General: censored

Techniques that prevent viewing sexual parts, usually vaginas, penises and dildos but occasionally nipples. Note that the anus is not usually considered a sexual part in Japanese censorship.

Common forms include mosaics, black boxes, mysterious white lights, inverted colors, shaded bars, and the infamous invisible penis. Tentacles or phallic objects are commonly used to resemble genitals and generally don't need to be censored, though the point of intercourse with a vagina does.

See also:

uncensored
pointless censoring
convenient censoring
censor hair
mosaic censoring
heavily censored
novelty censor
Tag_group:Censorship

History

Obscenity in Japan has been illegal to some degree since the 19th century Meiji Era, but the Criminal Code of 1907 relating to obscenity was reinforced (or at least not overturned as other laws restricting freedom were) when American General MacArthur established Japan's modern laws after WW2.

From the Criminal Code of Japan (translated)

Article 175. (Distribution of Obscene Objects)
A person who distributes, sells or displays in public an obscene document, drawing or other objects shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 2 years, a fine of not more than 2,500,000 yen or a petty fine. The same shall apply to a person who possesses the same for the purpose of sale.

Note that the law relates to distribution within Japan; it is not illegal for Japan-made porn intended only for export to be uncensored.
Status quo

Obscenity laws are gradually being relaxed, but not eliminated. Pubic hair is no longer required to be censored, for example. Urushuhara Satoshi has taken notable advantage of this.

Suwa Yuuji was fined 1.5 Million yen in 2004 for not sufficiently censoring his Misshitsu manga.
Updated by Domestic_Importer about 3 years ago