Non-Dorky Poll: Distressing Public Art

A quick photo poll question: Which of these statues seen on the street in Japan is more disturbing? This chubby nude saxophonist from Himeji:


Or this small child riding a giant carp from Takayama:


Leave your answer in the comments. You can only pick one.


  1. #1 Lassi Hippeläinen
    December 17, 2007

    Can I vote for Manneken Pis?

  2. #2 tceisele
    December 17, 2007

    I think the saxophonist is more disturbing. I mean, really, *playing a saxophone in public?!* What are they thinking?

    “The evil that men do lives on after them. The saxophone was invented in 1841.”

  3. #3 Chad Orzel
    December 17, 2007

    Can I vote for Manneken Pis?

    No, you have to vote for one of the pictures from Japan. The “scary European id” contest will come some other time.

  4. #4 Chad Orzel
    December 17, 2007

    I should probably note that my vote goes to the child on the carp, just for the facial expression. Which, unfortunately, answers the question “Where is the dorsal fin on that fish, anyway?”

  5. #5 Evan Berkowitz
    December 17, 2007

    I think the real question here is: how did such a young child get so much hair on their head?

  6. #6 Jason Adams
    December 17, 2007

    I vote for the freaky little lily-pad boy riding a carp for its sheer WTF factor.

  7. #7 Mary Kay
    December 17, 2007

    The kid on the carp.


  8. #8 Scott Belyea
    December 17, 2007

    I can’t find anything disturbing about either of them.

  9. #9 Skwid
    December 17, 2007

    I vote for the horn-blower, just because he’s wearing a hat. Why a hat? If you’re going nude, but you give on one item, why the hat? Why not shoes?

  10. #10 Olio D'Oliva
    December 17, 2007

    No explanation offered, of course, for why the little kid has a swollen scrotum. Okay, carp kid gets my vote for the more distressing.

  11. #11 Perry
    December 17, 2007

    I can imagine crazy indie music artists playin sax nude but for a hat. The carp thing looks like an x-rated version of Pokemon or sumthin.

  12. #12 Blair
    December 17, 2007

    I use a pic I took of the “Holy Carp” boy for my Facebook profile.

  13. #13 Flaky
    December 17, 2007

    I’d have to vote for the sax playing nude Mao, although neither of them really bother me. The “child” doesn’t look like a child to me at all, but more like some kind of a gnome.

  14. #14 mollishka
    December 17, 2007

    What #6 said, for the reason given in #4.

  15. #15 pough
    December 17, 2007

    @#9 – Maybe he’s playing “You Can Leave Your Hat On”

    I vote for the saxophonist. Kid on Carp is the stuff of kids stories, and those have been unsettlingly odd since before we knew what unsettling meant. Saxophones are relatively new inventions and there’s simply no excuse for playing one nude outside of pornography. Say, now there’s an idea… Is not good idea, but is idea.

  16. #16 pough
    December 17, 2007

    Waitaminnit. Is that a hat or a sweatband? If it’s a hat, I’m sticking with my vote. If it’s a sweatband I’ll change my vote because that ups the ridiculous and transforms it from disturbing to awesome. I can’t not laugh at a statue of a chubby kid playing saxophone with only a sweatband on.

  17. #17 Qalmlea
    December 17, 2007

    I find them both rather odd, but not particularly disturbing. I suppose I’d vote for the saxophonist, mainly because a live naked saxophonist walking down the street would disturb me more than, say, a naked baby riding on a fish.

  18. #18 cisko
    December 17, 2007

    Gotta go with the kid taking a carp, there. What is he holding in his hands? And, a vest?

    However, I suspect the kidfish is really a product of a fable or nursery tale — there are very specific details there that probably relate to some story that would put it on par with the Little Mermaid or something. Barring that cultural background though, it’s the kid all the way.

    If the man was playing a baritone sax though, I’d probably change my vote.

  19. #19 oldcola
    December 17, 2007

    Well, my vote goes to the kid, for the facial expression, but it isn’t the dorsal fin causing it, check by yourself.

    Looks like a crossing between a primate and a smiley gone wrong :-)

  20. #20 barney
    December 17, 2007

    I’ll vote for the kid and the carp, but only because I find it reminiscent of the boy and turtle statue behind City Hall in Worcester, Mass (it’s too disturbing to be photographed clearly).

  21. #21 Dave Briggs
    December 17, 2007

    This chubby nude saxophonist from Himeji:

    He got my vote! Somebody get those statues some clothes! LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  22. #22 Mac
    December 17, 2007

    That’s nothing. One time in Japan I saw a stone statue of a japanese woman stroking a giant, person-sized cock-n-balls. It was probably hundreds of years old, in a man-made onsen cave.

  23. #23 Scott Spiegelberg
    December 17, 2007

    The saxophonist, because he is walking far too stiffly for a man blowing an ax. Yes, both double entendres intended.

  24. #24 PattyP
    December 18, 2007

    I’m more disturbed by the kid on the carp. His face reminds me of a Cabbage Patch Kid and those things really creep me out.

  25. #25 cathy
    December 18, 2007

    The boy on the carp. Adults have traditionally delighted in depicting children nude. Why? Voyeurism? The knowledge that we adults have the power to see them, and present them, nude without their ability to comprehend the inappropriateness of appearing nude in public and their powerlessness to stop it? We pretend it is cute to see nude children, but really it is because we enjoy it because we can. If we present ourselves and other family members nude, it is considered bad. There are too many pedophiles out there; why encourage them? The man playing sax nude simply looks dumb, not alluring. The boy’s penis becomes the focal point of the statue. Surely it is not the point of the “story” that the statue tells, but it distracts us from that storytelling aspect, and from the craftsmanship of the piece. Non-Japanese should not be judging the cuteness of the face because we have different values about facial features. While we may find the child’s face odd, perhaps the sculptor valued the fat cheeks as adorable and had no intention of making it look like a Cabbage Patch Kid.

  26. #26 Nico Boco
    March 18, 2008

    Nothing is distressing in that images. You are a bastard.

  27. #27 1LT Los 51
    August 28, 2008

    They are not disturbing. Why is the question posed as if there is but one response to two separate pieces of art that are situated in a generally less sexually repressed country than our own United States? The Sax man is really fun and funny and the Carp boy with two tootsie rolls in hands is quixotic. Disturbing? Neither of these are – but your point of view IS surprising. Are you Art educated or simply do not know what to make of these two fine pieces?

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