Emperor Tomato Ketchup: Some Reflections on Carnality and Politics


  • Ana Došen




Terayama Shuji, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, children, carnality, politics, non-revolution


Terayama Shuji is one of the most prominent Japanese avant-garde artists of the 20th century. This paper explores Terayama’s experimental film Emperor Tomato Ketchup (1971), dealing with children’s rebellion against (masculine) authority. With an apparent lack of conventional narrative, this 16mm tinted black and white feature, shot in documentary style, was filmed in public without permission, demonstrating the guerilla tactics of Terayama’s experimental approach. Reflecting the turbulent times of Japan’s 1960s, when the quest for reinvention of national identity was compellingly engaged both right and left, Emperor Tomato Ketchup illustrates a dystopian Japan where the brutal revolution of ‘innocent’ and immature takes place. The focus of this paper is on the notion of carnality and politics of postwar Japan, as film’s transgressive graphic content of pre-pubescent children’s sexual encounter with women can still be perceived as radical.


Article received: December 26, 2017; Article accepted: January 10, 2018; Published online: April 15, 2018; Original scholarly paper


How to cite this article: Došen, Ana. "Emperor Tomato Ketchup: Some Reflections on Carnality and Politics." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 15 (2018): 59–66. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i15.230


Author Biography

Ana Došen

Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade

Ana Došen is an Assistant Professor at the Singidunum University, Faculty of Media and Communications, (Belgrade, Serbia), where she teaches media theory, East Asian cinema, and Japanese art and culture. She holds a Ph.D. in arts and media theory from Singidunum University. She has contributed articles in the fields of literature, media, film and cultural studies.


Bornoff, Nicholas. “Sex and Consumerism: the Japanese State of the Arts.” In Consuming Bodies, edited by Fran Lloyd, 41–68. London: Reaktion Books, 2002.

Eaton, Thomas Dylan. “The Imaginary Martial Theatre of Shuji Terayama’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup.” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry 22 (Oct. 2009): 90–97. doi: 10.1086/aft.22.20711768 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/aft.22.20711768

Mishima, Yukio and Shuji Terayama. “Taidan: Erosu wa Teikou no Kyoten ni Narieruka.” Ushio, July 1970.

Mellen, Joan. Voices from Japanese Cinema. New York: Liverlight, 1975.

Nettleton, Taro E.F. “Throw Out the Books, Get Out in the Streets: Subjectivity and Space in Japanese Underground Art of the 1960s.” PhD diss., University of Rochester, 2010.

Rayns, Tony. “Where the mountain meets the street: Terayama Shuji.” Sight & Sound – Web exclusive, 15 March 2012. http://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/sight-sound-magazine/features/where-mountain-meets-street-terayama-shuji. Accessed January 15, 2018.

Slaymaker, Douglas N. The Body in Postwar Japanese Fiction. London: Routledge Curzon, 2004. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203300145

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i15.230 DOI: https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i15.230




How to Cite

Došen, A. (2018). Emperor Tomato Ketchup: Some Reflections on Carnality and Politics. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (15), 59–66. https://doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i15.230