Abstract Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy (NVP) is a common condition in early pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to clarify the characteristics of Japanese women’s NVP and to determine the relationship between NVP and quality of life. The NVP was measured using the Rhodes’ Index and quality of life was measured by the SF-36. Nausea and retching at 4–7 and 12–15 weeks was significantly more severe than at 16–19 weeks, whereas there was no difference in vomiting. A decrease in physical well-being was correlated with the severity of nausea and retching at 8–11 and 12–15 weeks, but not with that of vomiting at any gestational period. Although the symptom of vomiting tended to be noticed more frequently, nausea and retching was more important in the care and treatment of NVP in Japanese women than vomiting, suggesting that professionals should carefully measure NVP symptoms using reliable instruments.