What is gravure?

Gravure, short for photogravure, is a method of printing. But in Japan the word "gravure" describes genres of pin-up imagery, often in swimsuits, implied nude ("chaku-ero") and sometimes nude. There is a whole market of gravure magazines and photobooks (hence the loan word from the printing industry) featuring young female models and idols, and sold in bookstores and local convenience stores. Gravure photography is Japan's take on glamour or art nude photography but often focuses more on the kawaii cuteness of the girls rather than sexuality. Even nude gravure photos focus on this kawaii-ness in addition to the sensual beauty of the female body. Alas there is literally one area that Japanese nude gravure disappoints, and that has to do with the mosaic censoring of human genitalia. Of course, the Japanese are known for their weird crazy fetishes, which are legal, but for some reason they shy away when it comes to something as natural as parts of the human body. It was only recently that "hair nudes" (showing pubic hair in publications) was permitted. Let's hope with globalization and a more open mind, Japan will come to their realm of the senses.