A short history of the hair nude (full-frontal nude photo shoots by Japanese actresses, models and idols)

The “hair nude” is a curious Japanese-English term. It refers not just to naked flesh; it’s naked flesh specifically with genital hair.

What is “shocking” here is the display of pubic hair, the line by which art and entertainment is usually fettered in Japan. It is fine to have plenty of nudity in films and print publications, but to avoid the century-old ambiguous obscenity laws, people censored or did not show actual pubic hair.

The hair nude set out to deliberately show this bush taboo was something to be challenged, both legally and artistically.

saki takaoka nude naked sexy

While the likes of Nobuyoshi Araki had already made erotic photography respectable to a certain degree in terms of fine art photography, the “hair nude” is something else: a fully and unashamedly commercial genre sold as a photo book, often intended to shock and show how the subject (almost always a female model or actress) has moved onto a new, exciting stage in their career. It is pornographic, yes, but the effect is different to when, say, certain idols advance into full adult video careers. It is more like a fashion statement.

And it got around the obscenity law because it was marketed as an artistic photo book, not smut.

That being said, though the hair shows us that this is the woman in all her glory and breaks a taboo, if she was fully shaved — not so common in Japan, where rather the bush is quite long — it would have been impossible. Showing the hair crosses a line, but actually also still prevents you from seeing the genitals.

yoko chousokabe chosokabe hair nude naked japanese

Where did it all start?

1980s

Maiko Kawakami (below) had done a shoot back in 1983 when she was 17, which was never released for legal fears.

Maiko Kawakami hair nude bush naked japanese celebrity actress model 1980s

Other 1980s nudes include a photo book by Keiko Takahashi and a legendary shoot with Aki Mizusawa, the actress (and later politician) Junko Mihara (for a photo book released in 1987, shown below), and also Mayumi Horikawa, though this not strictly speaking a “hair nude.”

junko mihara japanese actress politician nude 1980s

Kishin Shinoyama is a name we will see a lot here. His Gekisha series in the 1980s was a provocative line of gravure photo books with prominent models. Hajime Sawatari has also made a name for himself with nude shoots.

1990s

The genre launched properly in 1991 with Kanoko Higuchi’s Water Fruit, shot by the hair nude pioneer Kishin Shinoyama. Before this, the “hair” in adult photo books was often scratched out by hand when sold in bookstores.

rie miyazawa kishin shinoyama hair nude photo

With Rie Miyazawa’s Santa Fe (above) in 1991, the hair nude photo book became very famous and fully mainstream. Suddenly it was popular for young stars to announce their maturity — plus a way to relaunch their career, as Miyazawa very successfully did. Controversially, Miyazawa was probably under 18 when she did the shoot, which may make it illegal to possess the Santa Fe photo book.

Santa Fe sold an incredible 1.55 million copies while Water Fruit (below) also shipped half a million. They established the two ladies as major stars (Miyazawa had been suffering a temporary setback in her career due to scandal) and a precedent for others to follow.

kanako higuchi kishin shinoyama hair nude naked

The hair nude has also been a way to celebrate flowering into full womanhood. Miho Kanno similarly celebrated her twentieth birthday with a series of very explicit shots. Shinoyama also shot Chiaki Kuriyama in 1997, when she was still an underage teenager (we’re still not sure how they got away with that legally, but I expect a lot of disclaimers were signed and witnessed).

ai saotome hair nude japanese naked

Now everyone from actresses to models and singers wanted to get in on the act, ushering in a hair nude boom in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Around this time, there were hair nudes shoots (either as genuine hair nudes or overtly imitating the style) by the likes of Miho Aida, Nahoko Aizawa, Chikako Aoyama, Naomi Akimoto, Sakurako Akino, Hanako Asada, Aiko Asano, Reiko/Junko Asanuma, Noriko Aota (also known as Yoko Mori or Noriko Morita), Terumi Azuma, voice actress Chiemi Chiba, Yoko Chousokabe, Noriko Endo, Makiko Esumi, the ravishing Noriko Hamada (below), Chiaki Hara (shot by Kishin Shinoyama), Kumiko Hara, Reiko Hayama (by Shinoyama for the Gekisha series in 1991, followed by a better hair nude photo book by Koki Nishida in 1993), Riona Hazuki, Mari Henmi, the singer and actress Yuki Hoshino (Makiko Ueno), Fumie Hosokawa, the actress Chika Inada (in 2000), Harumi Inoue, Mayumi Kajiwara, Eri Ishida, Asami Kanno, Reiko Kataoka, Atsuko Kawada, Yuu Kawakami, the late Naomi Kawashima, Azumi Kawashima, Miyuki Komatsu, Eri Kimura, Tae Kimura (sadly, not fully nude), Miho Kinouchi, Chiaki Kitahara, Mai Kitajima, You/Yu Kizaki, Hijiri Kojima (by Kishin Shinoyama), Kanako Kojima, Chiharu Komatsu, the Sonatine actress Aya Kunimai (first nude in 1992 and then a full hair nude in 1999 for Kishin Shinoyama), Hiromi Kurosawa, the ballerina and actress Tamiyo Kusakari, Sakiko Mamiya, actress Chieko Matsumoto, Masumi Miyazaki, Mariko Morimoto (who did two, one as early as 1989), Reiko Nakamura, Natsumi Nanase, Yoko Natsuki, the singer Etsuko Nishio, the actress Miho Nomoto, Keiko Oginome, Makoto Ohara (quite early, in 1993), Mai Oikawa (in the 2000s), Natsuki Okamoto, Saori Ono, Yuka Onishi (in two photo books in the 1990s), Hitoe Otake, Mimi Rover, Kaori Sakamaki, Ai Saotome (pictured above), Tamao Sato, Kazumi Sawada, Sara Shimada, Shogun actress Yoko Shimada, Kaori Shimamura, the actress Mari Shirato (also shot by Nobuyoshi Araki, in 1993), Chieko Shiratori, Aya Sugimoto, Kaoru Sugita, wrestler Cutie Suzuki, Sawa Suzuki (shot by Nobuyoshi Araki), Saki Takaoka, Kumiko Takeda, Natsuko Tohno, Mariko Uranishi, Linda Yamamoto, and Yoshimi Yokosuka.

noriko hamada hair nude naked photo japanese

It was a veritable golden age.

2000s and 2010s

Recent hair nudes are becoming rarer and seem to be relegated for idols and stars who are trying to make a comeback from a serious scandal or whose career is flagging and they need the cash. The hair nude has become something of a last resort, though past results — such as Mari Amachi or Rie Miyazawa — have shown this can yield strong sales if the timing is right.

saori ono hair nude naked

For example, we have seen Shinoyama shoot Haruna Yabuki (Mari Abe) as well as hair nudes from others like Tomoko Nakajima, Mizuho Nakamura, Momoko Kuroki (Momoko Nagano), Yuko Shoji, Miu Nakamura, the snowboarder Mero Imai, Yuki Mamiya (Yuki Mogami), Chiaki Hiratsuka, Saeka Hinata, Yuri Kijima, and Akane Suzuki.

Sometimes, the hair nude is just a step before the declining idols begin a career in porn, as in the case of Risa Goto or Yoko Kamon.

There are some examples of idols who choose to do hair nudes for other reasons, such as hitomi who was pregnant (pregnant hair nudes are a whole subgenre of their own).

There are also idols who do because their whole appeal is based on their fundamental sexiness and overtly erotic appeal. For them, it is just a logical step: the late singer Shien (紫艶) (known for her affair with a famous rakugo performer), YURI (Mirei Kashiwagi), Reon Kadena, Minako Komukai, Megumi Kagurazaka, Una Shirakawa (as Reiko Nagaoka), Asami Sakanoue, Rio Matsushita, Mayu Sakuma, Kokone Sasaki, and, of course, Mitsu Dan.

There are also some mainstream women who do a hair nude in the early part of their career for no apparent reason other than they seem to want to do it, and it doesn’t damage their careers, such as Eimi Kuroda.

We have seen idols who are on the verge of starting a porn career or who have already committed to AV, and the hair nude is just part of the promotion for their new line of work. Nothing makes better marketing than naked flesh, it seems. Notable examples include Kimika Yoshino, Risa Naruse, Machiko Tezuka, Rumi Yonezawa, Momona Kito/Yua Mikami, and Shoko Takasaki/Takahashi.

We should also point out that hair nudes are not just for the young. Whereas Kumiko Takeda had been 25, Saki Takaoka 22, and Aya Sugimoto 24, it was not unusual for the older woman to make a splash with a hair nude even before the genre became self-referential. Yoko Shimada was 39 when her nude photo book shipped half a million. She then launched an AV career — when in her late fifties! Keiko Matsuzaka also showed off her ravishing body when she was well into the MILF stage of her life. More recently, the TV personality and one-time wrestler LiLiCo also stripped off for a shoot when she was in her forties, though she also apparently did some nude scenes when she was an actress back in the 1990s.

keiko matsuzaka nude jukujo hair milf body

Disclaimer: We’ve been a little loose with the “hair nude” definition. Some of these may not have counted since there was no hair visible, but were almost-rans that we liked. In the same way, we haven’t included AV stars who pose nude for pictures (with the actual genitals censored, though bush is visible) since that’s part of the course for them.

junko reiko asanuma nude japanese actress 1990s full frontal naked photography

Whither the hair nude?

The obscenity laws have not changed — or to be precise, the police’s interpretation of them — and publicly exhibiting a fully nude scene or image without censoring the hair is still likely to get you arrested, though you are more likely to get away with it in an artistic photo book.

But with the rise of different guidelines for popular beauty, the hair nude is no longer common for big stars, and is largely confined to minor or waning idols.

On the other hand, the Gekkan series of highly sexual and stylized photo portraits sold as “mook” magazines have been big. Actresses and models still do release photo books, but without as much fanfare. Meisa Fujishiro is the most famous/successful in this area.

Let’s hope for a full revival of the hair nude soon!

kanojo toys adult sex japanese buy



Get the Weekly Tokyo Kinky Newsletter!

Your email is safe, no spam ever!


Related Posts

1 Comment

  • Chris Edgar September 3, 2018

    WOW ! Blast from the past!!! I was there from 1/94 until 8/05. I even recognize some of the names!I I have some “hair nude” calendars from that era stashed somewhere! Really miss Japan!
    Great article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>