Controversial video expected to be taken down shortly.

While the majority of Japan gets uncomfortably muggy during the summer months, the northeastern Tohoku region is a pleasant exception. So in hindsight perhaps it was sort of a mismatch for Miyagi (one of the prefectures in Tohoku) to promote itself as a travel destination with a video that’s unabashedly steamy.

Released on YouTube on July 4, the video costars Musubimaru, an anthropomorphized rice ball who’s also the official tourism mascot for Miyagi Prefecture, and model/actress Mitsu Dan. Despite her compact name, Dan is known for her amply sized bust as well as her overall sexy aura, something which has served her well during her work in Japan’s gravure/swimsuit modeling sphere and is also played up in the video.

The video opens with Musubimaru relaxing in a traditional Japanese manor. Dan lovingly caresses his head and offers “How about if we go to Miyagi?”

Either because of Dan’s sultry voice or the double entendre of her use of the word ichau, which can mean either “go” or “ejaculate,” Musubimaru promptly gets a nosebleed, the standard Japanese visual shorthand for a person being turned on, thus definitively answering the question of whether or not Musubimaru is capable of becoming sexually aroused.

As Dan and Musubimaru float above various Miyagi landmarks in a dreamlike sequence, she feeds him local delicacies such as zunda sweets and grilled beef tongue, sending the morsels floating over to the hungry mascot by blowing a gentle puff of air.

As their journey continues, they visit the statue of Date Masamune, the samurai warlord who ruled the region during the Sengoku period, whom Dan causes to blush as she leans against his shoulder. Next, when they encounter a pair of flying sea turtles, Dan asks the marine creatures for a ride by asking “Can I get on top of you?” while repeatedly stroking one of the turtle’s heads, which causes it to grow and flush with color as a trumpet fanfare plays.

▼ While it initially looks like the camera is just zooming in, the size and position of the clouds in the background stay constant.

▼ This is probably also an appropriate time to point out that kamegashira, the Japanese word for “glans,” is literally a combination of the words kame, “turtle,” and gashira, “head.”

The turtle sequence seems to be a reference to the Japanese folk tale of Urashima Taro, as is the magical box that causes Musubimaru’s journey to end when he opens it. But though the video ends without Musubimaru and Dan doing anything shockingly unchaste with each other, the video has still drawn ire for what critics assert is excessive suggestiveness.

Among those who have criticized the video are members of Miyagi’s Prefectural Assembly and women’s advocacy groups. Aside from its content, detractors have also taken issue with the fact that the video, which cost some 23 million yen (US$209,500) to produce, was partially funded with tax revenue earmarked for redevelopment of areas damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, of which Miyagi is a part.

In response to complaints, the Miyagi Regional Promotion Council is expected to take the video down following an already scheduled promotional event to be held on August 26 in Sendai, which Dan herself is expected to attend. Considering that the video has already racked up more than 3.8 million views on YouTube (with about a 65/35 percent split between likes and dislikes), though, odds are it’s already been watched far more often than anyone originally expected.

Sources: Tohoku News via Otakomu, Sankei News via Jin
Images: YouTube/涼・宮城の夏 2017