2020 Spring (Women in Japanese History)

This was the first time the class was conducted solely online.

Projects were proofread and edited by Steven Douglas Dobbins and Daniela Baeumler.

Essay Projects

Korean Women Working and Living in Japan 1920-1960s: The Life of Zainichi Issei and Nisei
This project focuses on the history of Koreans who migrated or were abducted from the Korean Peninsula to Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The intention is to restore the obscure part of history that took place in Shimonoseki and Hokkaido with a renewed focus on women’s experiences. The digital exhibit will be comprised of a short explanation and photos.
Keywords: Shimonoseki port, Kanpu rennrakusenn 関釜連絡船 , Forced labour, coal mining, Fingerprinting( 捺印), 在日朝鮮人, 一世 (first generation immigrant) , Marriage, U-turned Koreans, 創氏名,Mitsubishi storage, GHQ, Imperialization 皇民化政策(同化), Jokō (女工), barmaid ( 酌婦)

Transition of Women’s Fashion and Social Advancement in Modern Japan
The prevalence of Western clothes, which are worn by the vast majority of men and women in Japan today, is a rather recent event. Since the Meiji Government started to implement Western clothes as a part of modernization in the 1860s until shirts and jeans became the standard in the 1970s, the adoption and popularity of Western clothes became gradually more prominent as the female social advancement progressed. This project aims to examine the advancement of women’s rights reflected in the changing trends in fashion, especially the everyday clothes of common women in urban cities.
Keywords: Fashion, Modernization, Meiji Restoration, Modern Girl, Taishō Democracy, Great Kanto Earthquake, Women’s History, Japan

The Bibliography of Tenshō-in
Tenshō-in was born in the Satsuma domain and was raised in the Shimazu family. She was known as the midaidokoro, the wife figure in the Tokugawa family. She was known as Atsuhime to the Japanese public, but what makes her interesting is the history she has with many other historic figures. As a Satsuma native, she was in the unusual situation of being in the Tokugawa family while her original family was on the opposing side of the Satsuma. Her position as the midaidokoro was a key part in the Meiji restoration and understanding her life would express how important Tenshō-in was in Japanese history.
Keywords: Original family, Satsuma  current family Tokugawa, Ōoku 大奥 system, 正室/側室 seishitsu/ sokushitsu conflict, Meiji Restoration, the collapse of the Tokugawa family, pride of respecting families

Women’s Magazines in the Late Taishō/Early Shōwa Periods
In this project, the student compiled research about what type of magazines were available in the late Taishō and early Shōwa periods and how many were targeted towards women. The student aims to investigate the type of content included in those magazines and the type of women they were trying to cater to. They will also attempt to explain how the role of magazines changed over time and how it reflected upon women’s role in society.
Keywords: Taishō, Shōwa, Women, Magazines, Fashion, Household, Education, Politics, Consumerism

Japanese Women in Sakhalin after World War II: The Background behind the Intermarriage with Koreans and Its Influence on Repatriation
South Sakhalin used to be populated by a great number of Japanese people along various ethnicities until after the end of World War II. Yet, the Japanese who were left behind in Sakhalin were mostly women. At the time when international marriage was not popular in Japanese society, the number of Japanese women’s intermarriages with Koreans in Sakhalin increased in 1945. This paper examines the factors behind their intermarriage by focusing on their status as women and ethnicity as Japanese. Furthermore, I would like to discuss the influence of intermarriage on their repatriation.
In order to reveal the factor of their intermarriage and its influence on their later life, the historical background of Japanese women, who remained in Sakhalin contrary to their will, will also be discussed with the particular focus on the invasion of the Soviet army in South Sakhalin. In this project, not only academic articles but also oral-based sources will be used to reveal their backgrounds and factors that led them to leave behind in Sakhalin and how they lived their lives.
Keywords: Japanese women in Sakhalin, intermarriage with Koreans, repatriation movement

Japanese Women Artists of the Edo Period
The aim of this project is to study art in the Edo period through the female gaze by researching and examining the work and lives of several prominent Japanese women artists of the era. It is important to note how their livelihoods and backgrounds affected their artworks and vice versa. In what ways did their experience of the world shape their careers and pieces? How were they influenced by their male contemporaries? What were their chosen styles and how were these incorporated into their most iconic pieces? What legacies did they leave?
Keywords: Edo, artist, waka poetry, literati, kanshi, influence, Confucianism, female experience, male counterparts

Yoshiwara District: Two Faces of a Coin
In this digital exhibit I would like to highlight the two different facets of the Yoshiwara district in the Edo and Meiji periods of Japanese history. One facet of the Yoshiwara district is what is portrayed in beautiful paintings of courtesans. There are festivals and art works that are celebrated to this day that highlight the beauty, grace, and talent of the women working in this place. The other facet of the Yoshiwara district is much more distressing and ugly. The truth of the matter is that many of these girls were taken from their countryside homes and forced into this work at a young age. Sexually transmitted diseases, violence, and poverty were common. Jōkan-ji temple holds an untold number of these women’s bodies who were left there anonymously, dying from complications of their work and too poor to pay for any proper burial. I would like to compare these two facets side by side in this digital exhibit to highlight the importance of understanding whose lenses we are viewing the past through. Those who benefitted from mizu shōbai, or sex trade and entertainment, practices of the Yoshiwara district would paint it as a place of great beauty and pleasure, but when seen through the eyes of the women who work day-to-day in a great amount of pressure the reality becomes much more apparent. I would also like to have a small spotlight on Higuchi Ichiyo’s works as a woman writing about the women in the Yoshiwara district at the time.
Keywords: Yoshiwara, prostitutes, courtesans, Edo Period Japan, Japanese Art, Higuchi Ichiyo 

The Northern Himeyuri
The tragic stories of Japanese university student soldiers and the Himeyuri nurse volunteers are retold in numerous documentaries and interviews. The accounts of American soldiers utilizing flamethrowers and phosphorous grenades to clear out the caves in Okinawa are also recounted by the survivors and historical articles. Yet the stories of the Japanese civilians stranded in Manchuria and the Japanese territories north of Hokkaido remained beneath the public eyes. Even within the untold stories of the past, the contributions and efforts of Japanese women seem to be overlooked by historical scholars fuelled by the unwavering Japanese societal norm of viewing women as housewives. To highlight the two factors, I decided to dedicate this project to the Japanese female telegraph operators who took their own lives during the Soviet invasion of South Sakhalin. I wish to use this project as a way of presenting Japan’s political and societal factors that lead to the silencing of this particular subject while attempting to analyze the perspectives of a Japanese citizen during the wartime.
Keywords: Duty, Soviet-Japanese Relations, Post-War Japan

Female Education in Early Meiji Japan

Comfort Women During World War II

Sensō hanayome 戦争花嫁

How Seitōsha Impacted Abortion During the Late Meiji Period to Taishō Period

Western Music and Female Musicians in Meiji Japan

New Women’s Association and Women’s Suffrage in Japan

Women in the Silk-Reeling Industry at Tomioka Silk Mill


Some of the students created their own websites:

The Two Tales of Takahashi Oden

History of Manga and The Changes in Female Figures

Ideal Female Figure of the late Meiji to Taisho Periods Portrayed in Magazines for Women 婦人雑誌

TAKING CONTROL: The Conquest for the Legalization of Birth Control in Japan
This digital exhibit analyses the progression and development of the birth control movement in Japan, from the time it was brought into the country prior to World War II to its legalization in 1950 to the present, highlighting the work of Kato Shizue—the pioneer campaigner of the movement in the country—and the influences of Margaret Sanger, the government, and the society at the time.

Himeyuri Students: Education and Ideology Then and Now

Industrial Revolution and Lower-class women

Yajima Kajiko and the formation of the Japan Woman’s Christian Temperance Union

The World of Ōoku: The Shogun’s Women