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Full Access The Ties that Bind: Pregnancy and the Persistence of Tradition in Contemporary Japan

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The Ties that Bind: Pregnancy and the Persistence of Tradition in Contemporary Japan

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image of Asian Medicine

This article explores the meaning and use in Japan of the hara obi (belly band), first attested in the eighth-century chronicle Kojiki, tracing its changing medical, religious, ritual, and literary significance up to the present day. While some Tokugawa-era doctors disparaged the hara obi’s medical value, it continued to play a role in prenatal care which continues today, a role enhanced by its function as a religious talisman and an object of folk tradition. This complex of effective and affective meanings has contributed to the hara obi’s survival alongside modern birth technology, a survival chronicled and reflected upon by contemporary Japanese women’s writing on pregnancy and childbirth.

10.1163/157342109X568937
/content/journals/10.1163/157342109x568937
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This article explores the meaning and use in Japan of the hara obi (belly band), first attested in the eighth-century chronicle Kojiki, tracing its changing medical, religious, ritual, and literary significance up to the present day. While some Tokugawa-era doctors disparaged the hara obi’s medical value, it continued to play a role in prenatal care which continues today, a role enhanced by its function as a religious talisman and an object of folk tradition. This complex of effective and affective meanings has contributed to the hara obi’s survival alongside modern birth technology, a survival chronicled and reflected upon by contemporary Japanese women’s writing on pregnancy and childbirth.

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/content/journals/10.1163/157342109x568937
2009-01-01
2016-12-06

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