Japanese women celebrate pregnancy with maternity nudes

September 30, 2009

Tokyo-based photography Kim Kyung-Hoon gains access to pregnant women being photographed for nude maternity portraits, a trend that’s on the rise in Japan.

Three years ago, a poster of a nude and heavily pregnant Britney Spears sparked concern in Japan before it was displayed in Tokyo’s subways because it was considered “too stimulating” for young commuters.

But today, an increasing number of women who have just one child later in life are flocking to photo studios to have their pregnant bellies photographed to celebrate their bodies during a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I was so happy during my pregnancy,” said 40-year-old Kumiko Yoda, who gave birth to a boy on July 19. “This moment will not come back to me again and these pictures are for my own enjoyment.”

Yoda was encouraged by a friend who showed her maternity nude photos that she had had taken of herself and just one month before her baby was born, Yoda discovered maternity photo studio “Ixchel” in Tokyo.

Initially, she posed showing only her belly but as the all-female staff at the studio helped her relax, she posed nude for the camera. The black-and-white pictures are displayed in her home.

“Whenever I see these pictures, I can recall how I looked and how happy I was when I was pregnant,” says Yoda.

The trend of taking pregnant nude photos, which has been growing over the past few years, exploded when J-pop singer ‘hitomi’ published a pregnant nude picture with her new album last June.

The picture was displayed on large billboards over busy streets in Tokyo and the related photo book became a bestseller, selling more than 10,000 copies in its first week of publication, according to local media.

“The special feeling of waiting for motherhood helps alleviate the fear of nudity. And with more women becoming pregnant at a late age, for them this is an experience that will never happen again,” said Yuko Ishizaki, an assistant professor at Japan Women’s University.

Mums-to-be pay around 35,000 yen ($368.2) for a studio photo shoot, which takes less than two hours in “Ixchel.”

“Before this boom, women didn’t know where to go to take these kinds of pictures even though they wanted to. Because of media attention, they easily found our studio,” said Natsuko Takada, the owner of photo studio “Ixchel.”

“When I opened my studio for maternity photos last year we had less than 10 customers a month but last month we had more than 70 customers,” said Takada.

($1 = 95.04 Yen)


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An increasing number of Japanese women — especially women who have just one child later in life — are flocking to photo studios to have their pregnant bellies photographed.

These photos will serve as a memento for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and allow these women to recall how they looked and how happy they were when they were pregnant.

Women in the United States who become pregnant might also want to have similar photos taken as a memento.

Posted by George Patsourakos | Report as abusive

I don!t know, what happened to my posted comments on this subject.
No regrets for that,
The above photos and writings by this photo journalist is really interesting, lively and lovely to note for fresh memories.
This is a very good sign from modern Japanese pregnant women.
Intellectually speaking, modern,educated,professionals,and with honest, radical,practical and with modern thinking ,added by arts and knowledge seeker women will prefer to take photos by natural on their pregnancy stages
Surely, they will keep these lively,natural pictures for day today seeing, happy discussion with their hubbies and for permanent album and keep it for ever long memories.
Whereas, these pregnant nude photos are not permissible in India, Pakistan and from religious countries and too from deep rooted traditional societies.
All real,genuine ,professional photography students and artists will like it very much.
Thanks to this journalist and to Reuters website.

Posted by krishnamurthi ramachandran | Report as abusive

oh!! Great picture interesting story

Posted by lim hark hyoun | Report as abusive

Not very long time ago, I remember Demi Moore’s nude picture which is pregnancy with maternity nude. It was shocking one. But, I realizse it’s most beautiful picture in the world. Over time, it’s not special any more to hollywood star. Because, everybody’s worth it. It must be very pure and beautiful story for a ordinary baby and mother to remember their special time. And, it’s nice event in low fertility era. By the way, where is a father and husband?

Posted by SUNG HWAN, PARK | Report as abusive

Thanks for a great article.
As a mother this is a sympathetic story to me.

Recently it has increased women who don’t want to have no child or just one child. and They are considered to cherish their own lives at the same time. so They tend to always want to leave a record about their lives ilke photos, videos,blogs,twitters……..

I think Maternity nude photos fit well with such a tendency. and I agree all proceeds of making photos will help them to become a parent.
Surely this, as well as in Japan will be made in other countries.

Posted by Regina | Report as abusive

Great article and video, as a photographer myself, I love taking maternity photos – especially semi nude kind, It always turns out so beautifully and becomes an unforgettable memory for parents too.

Posted by Emma | Report as abusive