Japanese Pearl Fishers

Discovery of the photographs below have sent me scurrying to the internet for some background information, which seems to be quite sparse.

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The name of this traditionally styled undergarment is the ‘fundoshi’ (certainly for men, my apologies if the women’s variant has a slightly different name). 

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I did find an article here, which identifies the women as the ‘ama’ (?), the wives and girlfriends of Japanese fishermen, who were employed as pearl fishers. The cost, both in economic and human terms -the dangers of pearl hunting in cold, dangerous waters is obvious- made pearls an expensive item in the past.

‘Mikimoto’ pearl fishers brings up more internet exploration, but I think ‘mikimoto’ may well be the Japanese word for ‘pearl’, as well as some sort of five star brand of itself. I’m not sure, but it’s less relevant to this post than the photos that led me to explore further. I would be delighted if any of our Japanese readers could tell me if I’m factually wrong, on any point, in this post. Please write and tell me if I’ve made any errors in the text.

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While the rest of the photos look genuine, this sepia tinted print looks like it might have been ‘staged’.


Notice how the women’s shorts are all in a similar pattern, as if this is some kind of ‘uniform’. Perhaps they identify individual fishing ‘houses’ or ‘fleets’.


While our perception of Japanese people may be different, the photo above shows a ready ease with semi-nudity amongst the fisher-people. Here, some women, one holding an infant, are comfortably topless while their menfolk appear behind, oblivious to their women-folk’s nudity.


While these vintage photographs all show the women routinely ‘topless’, google searches show photographs of fully-clad, modern-day fisher-folk. I suspect that this is less to do with an increasing modesty, but more an increased awareness of safety concerns. I would imagine that the full body suits of today offer more protection against hypothermia.


The ‘fundoshi’ (referred to above) is shown here in a variety of styles in a typical Japanese ‘manga’ representation.

The ‘fundoshi’ is a traditional Japanese undergarment for men. You may be familiar with it in a variant called ‘mawashi’…the loincloth worn by Sumo wrestlers.

It’s only recently that fundoshi for women have been manufactured, apparently, with sales exceeding all expectations(1).

fundoshi-women-girl-japan-beach fundoshi-women-naked-festival-japan-adult-video

I suppose that the western perception of the Japanese is a nation with sometimes polarised attitudes to sexuality and nudity. On one hand, there’s Manga comics which would contain highly sexualised cartoon stories, while on the other there wouldn’t really be a Japanese naturist tradition. And then there’s the Onsen, Japanese bath houses, where the sexes, certainly in the past, freely mixed nude (or loincloth clad) during their bathing rituals. My next contribution to the blog will be the tradition of the onsen in a SL context. Several exist.

While continuing my research, I found an exceptionally interesting article on Japanese attitudes to nudity here.

So…where’s all this leading in ‘Second Life Naturist’ blogzine? Good question.

pear fisher2_001_Fotor_Sprout_20130820

Our model, wearing a ‘fundoshi’ in the style of the vintage photos, swims down to look for pearls.

While Harry has his own, new blog, he’s not lost to SLN entirely. So we’ve been discussing him doing a set of photos that capture the essence of these vintage pearl fisher-women. You can see an extensive set at SLFineArtNudes.

Research source(s)

(1) wiki, referencing the Japanese company Wacoal.


2 thoughts on “Japanese Pearl Fishers

  1. Pingback: Japanese Pearl Fishers recreated | SL Fine Art Nudes

  2. Pingback: Nude snorkelling and diving | the sl naturist

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