Japanese actress and former AV porn idol Sora Aoi in Beijing. Photo: AFP

Sora Aoi might be worth millions of dollars, but she is priceless to her legions of fans in China. Known as the princess of porn in Japan, she has more than 18 million Weibo followers and has the distinction of “educating a generation of Chinese men in sex.”

Naturally, when news started to leak out on social media that the former adult video actress had announced she was getting married, it created a frenzy in cyberspace.

“I’ve always wanted to get married,” she said on Weibo, the Twitter-like Chinese social media platform. “I love kids, and it’s always been my dream to start a family.

“My [husband, the Japanese musician DJ Non] is neither handsome nor rich, but he has removed all of my uneasiness about having been in adult films, as well as everything else,” she continued.

At just 1.55 meters, or 5ft 1in, tall, Aoi starred in more than 90 adult movies in the early 2000s before moving into mainstream acting in 2011, as well as launching a pop career.

In China, she developed an amazing following and was known as “Teacher Sola” by her mostly male fans, according to the Shanghaiist, because she gave a generation of young men an “education in sex.”

Ironically, porn is illegal in the world’s second-largest economy and sex education in schools is basic, to say the least.

“I don’t regret making adult films, but it’s also not like I don’t feel any embarrassment about how such work is viewed by society,” Aoi, who is 34, said.

“To create a family, you have to accept everything about each other, your past and future, so I think my husband is really an awesome guy for accepting me,” she added.

Still, her role as “Teacher Sola” in China has been questioned by academics.

Li Yinhe, who was the country’s first female sexologist, spelt out the dangers of pornography when linked to sex education.

“Porn depicts sex in an exaggerated way, and some men may be misled as they compare themselves to porn actors,” Li told the BBC.

Yet Aoi’s presence in China cannot be underestimated. When she opened her Twitter account on  April 11, 2010, her fans scaled the Great Firewall by using VPNs because the social networking service had been banned in the country.

Seven months later, she started a Weibo account and now has more “followers” than the former Manchester United and Real Madrid soccer star, David Beckham, and the pop idol Taylor Swift.

In the intervening years, Aoi has worked hard to cultivate her image. She has immersed herself in Chinese culture, learning Mandarin and the art of calligraphy. Five years ago, she even sold a piece for 600,000 yuan ($92,000).

Of course, this mutual love affair is more complex when you consider the historical bitterness which stems from Japan’s brutal occupation of China before and during World War II.

“There was once a popular saying on China’s internet: ‘Diaoyu Islands (known as the Senaku Islands in Japan) belong to China, and Sora Aoi belongs to the world’,” Wenwei Huang, a Chinese writer who lives in Japan, told the BBC.

Yet her lasting appeal might be more complicated than that.

Prof Wai-ming Ng, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Japanese Studies, felt it was more to do with “globalization” and the way people move across the endless streams of social media.

“For people who like Sora Aoi, no matter which country they are from, they would all feel like they belong to the same group,” Prof Ng told the BBC.

It was this common thread that ran through millions of posts following her marriage announcement.

Within 48 hours of releasing the news, Aoi had 170,000 comments and 830,000 likes on Weibo.

“You will always be my goddess … I wish you happiness,” one fan wrote. Another said: “We grew up with your movies and will support you always.”

Happiness in the world of pornography? Now, that is an interesting concept that even Aoi might find difficult to answer.

Read: Chinese fans send best wishes on ex-porn idol’s marriage

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