Midwifery in Japan

16 - 28 May 2021
  • Medical & Professional Tours

About the tour

In the company of tour leader Dame Cathy Warwick, examine the history of midwifery in Japan as well as contemporary developments in both rural and urban areas. Experience the magnificent culture and history of Japan alongside its contemporary culture. See Japan’s most famous traditional art form, woodblock printing, wander through traditional gardens, visit Japan’s great castles, and explore Hiroshima and its still-reverberating history. Throughout the tour enjoy a delicious range of Japanese cuisine.

Midwives have always been revered in Japan. In ancient times, they were simply known as “the grannies who delivered life.” From the middle of the Edo period, about 250 years ago, they were known as granny midwives and were exempt from the edict prohibiting anyone from crossing the procession of a feudal lord and his vassals, a crime punishable by death.

After the Meiji Period when Japan opened to the West, new systems of education, medicine, urban planning, etc., began to be imported from various Western countries, and granny midwives’ practices came under governmental regulation. Official training was introduced for the new ‘modern midwife’, who were considered vital messengers of public hygiene. Thus began the professionalisation of midwifery and its intermingling with nursing.

The first national association of midwives was established in 1927 and included both medical and granny midwives. Midwifery was considered a desirable, respectable, well-paid, female profession and was very popular among women entering the work force.

Midwives are required to have a practice agreement with an obstetrician if they want to open their own independent clinic. Recent changes in the guidelines reduce midwives’ autonomy even further by requiring all decisions regarding women’s eligibility for midwifery care to be made in collaboration with (or in actuality, with the de facto permission of) an obstetrician.

In 1955, 95% of births were attended by midwives at home. The switch from homebirth with midwives to hospital birth with doctors occurred relatively recently and within a matter of only a few years. By the end of 1965, 95% of births occurred in hospitals under the supervision of obstetricians. Despite the historical reverence for midwives and the relatively recent move to obstetric care, midwives have lost autonomy in past decades.

The title of “advanced midwife” was established more recently, in 2015 - these women do not work under physicians, but rather independently and in harmony with the doctors.

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Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, ​Professor Cathy Warwick CBE

​Professor Cathy Warwick CBE

Dame Cathy Warwick was Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives for 9 years and now works independently. Cathy is also Honorary Professor of Midwifery and an Honorary Professor of Midwifery at Kings College London. In 2006 she was awarded a CBE for services to Midwifery and Healthcare and in 2017 was made a Dame. Cathy lectures, writes and advises on midwifery issues with a particular interest in the organisation of care and the promotion of choice for women. Cathy has travelled widely both on her own and with her family, visiting midwifery units in America, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Professor Warwick has previously led successful midwifery study tours to China, India, South Africa, Nepal, Brazil, Cuba, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

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  • Tel: (Toll Free) 1-8777-398-764
  • Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
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Itinerary at a glance

  • 16 May (Sun) Tokyo: Arrive and transfer to the hotel
  • 17 May (Mon) Tokyo: Visit the historic Asakusa neighbourhood and Senso-ji Temple. Visit St Luke's Hospital and learn about the history of midwifery in Japan and midwifery education. Welcome dinner in the evening
  • 18 May (Tues) Tokyo: Visit a midwifery birth centre. Visit fashionable Harajuku and the lovely garden of the Nezu Museum
  • 19 May (Wed) Tokyo / Kanazawa: Bullet train across Japan to Kanazawa. Visit the old samurai quarter, including the old pharmacy, a samurai house and garden, the Yuzen Silk Centre and the Kubani Kutaraki pottery
  • 20 May (Thurs) Kanazawa: Visit Kenrokuen Garden and the ruins of the castle. Visit the geisha quarter (Higashichaya Old Town) including the Ochaya Bunkakan Sake House, Kaikaro Geisha House, a gold leaf house and museum
  • 21 May (Fri) Kanazawa / Okayama: Bullet train to Okayama. In the afternoon visit Korakuen Gardens and visit the castle
  • 22 May (Sat) Okayama: Travel to Kurashiki and visit the Private Medical Hospital maternity unit. Visit the Kaneko Midwifery Clinic before exploring the attractive riverside old merchant quarter.
  • 23 May (Sun) Okayama / Hiroshima / Okayama: Train to Hiroshima*. Visit the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. Cruise on the Inland Sea. Return to Okayama
  • 24 May (Mon) Okayama / Kyoto: Train to Kyoto. Visit Fushimi Inari temple and take part in the Tofukuji Walk
  • 25 May (Tues) Kyoto / Kobe: Visit Nijo Castle. Visit beautiful Golden Pavilion and its garden. Walking tour through food and craft markets (walk down Nishiki and Teramachi-dori). In the afternoon visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Travel to Kobe and check into the hotel
  • 26 May (Wed) Kobe: Visit Kameda Maternity and the 'Ladies Clinic' in Kobe. Visit the MOURI Independent Midwifery Clinic before visiting a sake factory
  • 27 May (Thurs) Kobe / Osaka / Kobe: Train to Osaka. Explore downtown Osaka on a culinary tour. Train to Kobe and at leisure. Farewell dinner
  • 28 May (Fri) Kobe: Depart for airport

* For those who do not wish to visit Hiroshima, we recommend a visit to Naoshima 'Art Island' on the inland sea near to Okayama.

Tour cost

The ground only cost of the tour is US $5,152 per person sharing

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Coronavirus Update

Updated information on our response to COVID-19.

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