Shukan Gendai (Nov 27) poses an intriguing question: “Why are Japanese women so eager to bare themselves?”
“I’ve been photographing amateur female nudes for more than 20 years,” says photographer Jiro Wada, “and my feeling is that women really love being photographed naked. They say they’re embarrassed, but that’s just words.”
Well, a photographer would naturally encounter women inclined that way. Does that prove it’s a universal taste? Maybe not, but other facts at least suggest it, in the magazine view. Plainest of all is the fact that Japan is awash in nude photos and videos – the so-called “adult videos” (AVs), produced at a rate of some 10,000 a year. By Shukan Gendai’s reckoning, that would mean one woman in 500 has appeared in an AV.
To say nothing of men’s magazines, which claim to be deluged with photos submitted for publication. Ninety percent of them, editors say, are of amateurs – not porn stars, not models or even aspiring models, just ordinary women stretching the conventional boundaries for reasons of their own.
What reasons? “I just happen to think my body is extraordinarily beautiful,” says a 21-year-old fourth-year university student. “I love it when men praise my nude body.”
“I wanted some beautiful nudes of myself while I’m still young,” explains a 26-year-old OL. “I paid a photographer 30,000 yen, and we went to a hotel. At first I was thinking just of the photographs, but the click of the shutter, the flare of the flash… I got so excited I couldn’t restrain myself.” The photographer made no effort to restrain her, and “I’d never been so wild before. It felt absolutely wonderful. The photos were fine too.”
Strip clubs, too, whatever other problems they may have, will apparently never go out of business for want of strippers. “The customers’ response is interesting,” muses a 22-year-old student whose professors probably don’t know how she moonlights. “Everybody’s attention fixed on my privates, and I’m thinking, ‘That’s raw male instinct.’ And I was hooked.”
“In the past,” psychologist Takashi Tomita tells the magazine, “women who got naked did it purely for money. Now it’s a form of self-expression. Women want to appeal sexually to crowds of men. It’s a form of self-assertion.”
“I was a bit shy at first,” admits a 26-year-old freeter who strips by night. But then, she adds, “it’s so liberating!”
And not just for young women. “For two years,” says a 40-something woman – one of a great many – who posed nude for a magazine, “I pretended not to notice my husband’s philandering. Then I thought, Now I’ll have my revenge.”