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About Yoshimura Clinic History

About Yoshimura Clinic


There is a very well known maternity clinic for natural birth in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture in central Japan.
It is “Yoshimura Clinic”, the private clinic run by obstetrician and gynecologist, Dr. Tadashi Yoshimura.
The clinic receives a lot of visitors including many from abroad.
The renowned natural birth advocate, Dr. Michel Odent and social anthropologist, Ms. Sheila Kitzinger are amongst them.
Yoshimura Clinic is unique in many ways compared to hospitals and other modern institutions where most women have babies in Japan.

One main feature is the traditional Japanese wooden house built within the compounds of the clinic
where woman give birth completely naturally on futons laid out on tatami-floored rooms, just like in the old days.
At Yoshimura’s clinic, the rate of Caesarean births are about 5 percent and vacuum assisted deliveries are a mere 0.3 percent.
These numbers are amazingly low compared with world standards.
The clinic is relatively small with about twenty-five deliveries a month. There are eight midwives and one doctor.
The obstetric system in Japan is quite different to that of the western countries in that half of the childbirths
take place not in hospitals but in smaller institutions called “clinics”.
There are two types of clinics; those run by an obstetrician and gynecologist, and those run by a midwife.
It is interesting that most of these clinics are actually set up at the doctor’s or midwife’s home.
Yoshimura Clinic which is also set up at his home, consists of several buildings where a total of twenty people work including midwives,
cooks and other staff.
Dr. Yoshimura’s ideal on childbirth is very clear.
He believes that it is not just about the technicalities of allowing women to give natural birth but that in the basis lies the Japanese culture
and the respect for women’s natural abilities.
Another unique feature at Yoshimura’s clinic is the prenatal exercises.
A traditional Japanese house which is three-hundred-and-fifty years old has been reconstructed on the premises
and expectant mothers are encouraged to split firewood, perform sawing and water drawing just like in the old days.
By performing these traditional practices, the women can acquire both physical and mental strength, thus preparing themselves for a natural birth.
It can be said that the secret in natural birth at Yoshimura’s clinic lies in the preventive medicine during pregnancy.
Dr.Yoshimura pays close attention to outpatients, spending about fifteen to thirty minutes with each patient.
Supplying mental care as a doctor in this way is another factor which increases the impact of preventive medicine.
Dr. Yoshimura takes a critical stance towards modern obstetrics.
He argues that the definitions of protracted labour and adaptation of Caesarean sections written in obstetric medical books are set far too early.
He claims that the general medical justification that delivery should not be more than twelve hours is wrong.
The reason why the rate of Caesarean births is low at his clinic is because in the cases of protracted labour,
breech babies or women who have had a previous Caesarean, he observes the development carefully and sometimes waits for as long as five days.

By taking the time and care that would be unthinkable in modern obstetrics,
Yoshimura Clinic has been able to offer obstetric care with the lowest rate of Caesarean births in the world.
Over forty years have passed like a flash whilst I was emersed in my job attending, night and day, over 20,000 child births.
These years were not about impersonal things like medical studies, clinical experiences or hospital management
but as I look back there were times that were hard and there were other times that were like an ascetic training which I enjoyed pretty much.
People say I am a little strange but through what I call my ascetic trainings I have been completely transformed
and that is why my attitude as a doctor and how I view birth is totally different from mainstream practices.
If you look at things from a scientific point of view, you can only see what is visible.
Modern childbirth deliveries in hospitals only pursue medical safety and most doctors can end their lives in attending childbirth
as a mere business practice, following only the professional guidelines set by medical societies without the chance to consider the deep cultural
significances that lay behind the physical phenomenon of childbirth.
The women giving birth are also mind-controlled by modern culture and there are too many women
who lose themselves under the superficial powers of medical services, submit to the supervision of doctors
and give birth according to the manual imposed upon them. As a result, most of them do not have the chance to actively experience birth
as a culture and instead of feeling the deep joy of birth they become weary and are left feeling empty.
Natural childbirth in which the women use their own abilities, makes them feel amazingly happy with a deep love towards the newborn baby
and with a strange feeling of wanting to have more babies, they can hold their babies tightly and be ecstatic with the true happiness of giving birth.
Having attended this kind of childbirth all these years, I myself have felt happy and find it hard to leave my job even at this age.
I am devoted to my work and it has made me live a truly happy life. Everyday is so fulfilled, I will not feel any regrets if I had to die today.
This book is not a manual on childbirth. It is about the the philosophy and aesthetics of childbirth and furthermore about women’s way of life.
Having seen many women’s ways of life and having lived through life with enthusiasm, I cannot help
but feel a spiritual and absolute power in women who live on producing the continuous chain of life. Men can only kneel down before them.


Dr. Yoshimura’s resume

Tadashi Yoshimura Born in 1932. Graduated School of Medicine, Nagoya University. Doctor of Medicine.
In 1961, he replaced his father as director of Yoshimura Hospital. In the 45 years since, he has attended over 20,000 natural childbirths.
He avoids medical intervention and drugs as much as possible in antenatal care, and has maintained low rates of 5% for Caesarean sections
and 0.5% for vacuum delivery. He gives more than fifty lectures around the country every year and is featured often on the media.
He is also very knowledgeable about Japanese traditional culture and antiques and leads a lifestyle similar to that of the Edo period.
His books include:
“Birth! A Mystery of Life” (published by Shunjusha Publishing Company)
“Birth is Fun” (published by Rural Culture Association Noubunkyo)
“Birth Should be Natural” (Rural Culture Association Noubunkyo)
Dr. Yoshimura’s words
“Although the true nature of obstetrics is in preventive medicine, today, the therapeutic aspect is considered as more important.
Most maternity hospitals do not place significance on preventive care.
The reason for the many abnormal labours and the fact that having a baby without the intervention of doctors
has become almost impossible is that with the modernization of society people have stopped using their bodies and as a result
have significantly impaired their physical abilities. The bodies of Japanese people have changed also due to westernized food
and excessive consumption. This lifestyle characteristic to modern society has changed birth from being a natural process to a process
that needs medical attention.
At Yoshimura Clinic, an Edo period house has been reconstructed where we encourage the mothers to perform traditional housework
in which they use their bodies, eat traditional Japanese food, walk and move their bodies everyday.
And this is how we realize completely natural childbirth. I would like to introduce to the western world our practices
at Yoshimura Clinic which has brought in Japanese culture to obstetrics


Book reviews

“Birth! A Mystery of Life” 

July 2003, The Chunichi Shimbun
The author is the director of a maternity clinic in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture where next to the clinic in a Japanese-style room,
avoiding medical intervention as much as possible, he practices a more natural childbirth. In over 40 years, he has attended more than 20,000 births.
The book introduces how deliveries take place in the “House of Birth”, a traditional Japanese house built in 1999, and talks about his life,
his philosophy and aesthetics on birth and on women’s way of life. It also tells many stories from his experience as an obstetrician
and looks at the true joy of birth.
Photographs taken by maternity coordinator/photographer Sakae Kikuchi.
October 2003, “Perinatal Care (Magazine)” by Medicus Shuppan
In a time of low birthrates, advanced medical technology being used in fertility treatment and childbirth becoming more and more a medical process,
it has become difficult to see birth in its natural form. Meanwhile, there are more women who wish to feel the true joy of birth through natural delivery.
Yoshimura Clinic tries to avoid medical intervention as much as possible allowing mothers to birth naturally. The rates of Caesarean sections,
episiotomy and medical intervention is strikingly low compared to world standards but in order to achieve this they need the patience to wait
and the attentive care by the medical staff. In obstetrics today which places priority on economical efficiency and medical management
it has become increasingly difficult to practice this kind of care. It is often said that anything can happen at birth. These words seem to imply
that there is always a chance of some kind of difficulty occuring at birth. But it is not well known that nature has more power to turn things
into a better direction than people think. Other than the childbirths at the clinic,
the book tells you a lot about Dr. Yoshimura’s ideas on life and his philosophy and aesthetics on birth. It can be enjoyed not only as a childbirth guide
but also as a book on nature, environment and a way of life. There are also many photographs which allows you to understand better the clinic.
Review by maternity coordinator Sakae Kikuchi


Yasuko Tanaka ( Director, Yoshimura Clinic)

House of Birth


*Profile (so far)*

I was born in Saitama in 1972 and raised in Tokyo. I graduated from the Nippon Medical School in 1998.
Over the next 10 years, working in what aspecialized in obstetrics/gynecology, I chose to also get trainingat Jichi Medical University and worked in such places as Sapporo, Tokyo, Yokohama and Toyota.
During that time, I had several life-changing encounters; giving birth to my son in 2003; and the opportunity to attend a lecture by Dr. Tadashi Yoshimura.
All came as a shock and brought me a conceptual change for preventive medicine and a new world of natural birthing and breast feeding; I realized that giving birth to a child is not a disease and I recognized as the life.
In 2012, I became the Vice Director of Yoshimura Clinic. In 2014, I started to do my best as the director of this clinic.

*Message (from now on)*

Yoshimura Clinic is a healthy and comfortable place for giving birth for all involved. It’s an environment with lush green leaves and singing birds even though the busy residential area is close to the main train station in Okazaki.
The clinic fosters a culture, in which mothers can feel their pregnancy and delivery as the pure natural delight. Dr. Tadashi Yoshimura has created a place, where women and their families can build a link to a new life, by vitalizing their body and soul, and lifting them up with the 'its-hard-but-delightful' spirits.

Dr. Yoshimura taught me his stance as a doctor towards involvement in preventive medicine. With my respect for Mother Nature, which we are all the better not to go against, I will do my best to firmly and thoroughly
provide the best medical care as it is needed. Of course, I really must thank general hospitals (Maternal and Perinatal Medical Centre).
Its presence is of extremely importance so that we may concentrate on our preventive medical service for the benefit of future generations.
I am so grateful to meeting the warm of your life at Yoshimura Clinic.