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Nude Michelangelo replica unnerves Japan town

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Tokyo -

A replica of Michelangelo's Renaissance sculpture David that was erected suddenly last summer is unnerving residents of a Japanese town, with some calling for the naked masterpiece to be given underpants.

Okuizumo town in western Shimane prefecture received five-metre replicas of David and of Greek treasure the Venus de Milo, as donations from a businessman who hails from the area.

The statues were put up in a large public park that also includes a full-size running track, a baseball stadium, tennis courts, a mountain bike course and a play area with apparatus for children.

“Some people have told the town's legislators that toddlers are afraid of the statues because they are so big and they appeared unexpectedly over the summer,” town official Yoji Morinaga told AFP.

“They are statues of unclothed humans, and such pieces of art work are very rare in our area. Some people apparently said the statues might not be good for their children,” he said.

While many locals have welcomed the new cultural additions to the mountainside town of fewer than 15 000 residents, some have asked for David to wear underwear to preserve his modesty, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

“It is the first time we have had anything like this in our town. Perhaps people were perplexed,” Morinaga said.

The town believes over time residents will come to appreciate the value of the sculptures, which could be useful in school art classes and may one day become a sightseeing attraction, he said.

The original David is housed in the Accademia di Belle Arti, in Florence, Italy.

The Louvre in Paris is home to the armless Venus de Milo, which stands a little over two metres tall.

Earlier this week Tokyo-based photographer Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee was arrested for selling books containing pictures of male genitals.

Kee, 41, whose subjects have included Lady Gaga and Beyonce, could be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to ¥2.5 million ($27 000) if convicted of obscenity.

Pornography is widely available and produced in Japan, but under domestic law genitals must be obscured, a process usually done through pixellation. - Sapa-AFP

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