Digital Japanese History

絵本水や空、耳鳥斎 画、3冊 (合1冊) ; 23cm、平安、八文字屋八左衛門、安永9 [1780]、、出典:国立国会図書館「NDLイメージバンク」 (




In this course, the students created their own websites:

Hiratsuka Raichō by Joela Dercon and Aina Yamashita

Abstract: Hiratsuka Raichō (1886-1971), a Japanese feminist, has paved the way for Japanese women through her dedicated activism such as her writing that encourages self development for all women and the creation of feminist groups aimed to liberate and fight for women’s rights. The research will examine the social situation of women during the Meiji and Taisho Period that has impacted Raichō’s early life which then influenced the formulation of her radicalism and feminism. From the creation of Seitō and the well-known editorial in the magazine, ‘In the Beginning Woman Was the Sun,’ to her struggles in motherhood and the creation of the Association of New Women, Raichō was a pioneer of the women’s movement in Japan. Seitō and the Association of New Women is one of the most important pivoting moments as it was the beginning of her political impact. Though she has undoubtly created shock-waves in Japanese society at her time, we must also address the limitations and downfalls of her as a feminist leader from her bourgeousie upbringing to the questionable loyalty towards her organisations.

Keywords: Association of New Women, Blue Stocking, Civilization and Enlightenment Movement, Education Order, Anti-VD Marriage Legislation, Motherhood Protection, Women’s suffrage, Peace Preservation Law


Inheritance and Marriage in Medieval Japan by Ayane Furuichi

Abstract: This project focuses on the changes of inheritance and marriage in medieval Japan (i.e., from the eleventh through the sixteenth centuries), and examines the status and role of women. In the latter half of the Muromachi period, the inheritance system was changed to a single inheritance in which the most talented and outstanding among legitimate and illegitimate children was selected, and restrictions were placed on inheritance for women. As for marriage, this project takes up the examples of the Kumagai (warriors) and the Hino (nobles), and discusses the similarities and differences in the principles of marriage and marriage partners of each. In terms of similarities, marriage of both samurai and court noble was influenced by the strengthening of the patriarchal system after the Muromachi period. As for the differences between the two, it becomes clear that the warrior family considered hierarchy, politics, and regionality in their marriage partners, while the noble family regarded the strengthening of ties with temples and shrines or the shogun’s family important. Further, in marriages of both, warrior and aristocrat, the women played a significant role and were regarded highly because the survival of the family depended on the marriage of daughters.

Keywords: Zaichi Ryōshu, Kuge, Kumagai, Hino, Inheritance, Marriage, Women’s role and status


Menstruation in Meiji Japan from Different Perspectives by Sayaka Sato

Abstract: This project investigates menstruation and its impact on people’s lives in the Meiji period. In particular it focuses on people with menstruation in general from historical, social, cultural and medical perspectives. For instance, how menstruators took care of their periods and how they were treated socially will be discovered, looking at what kind of menstrual management items or products they used and how they developed. The aim of this project is to discover how social norms and social changes such as civilization and Westernization influenced the relatively slow development of menstrual management products and perceptions toward menstruation in Meiji Japan.

Keywords: Meiji Japan, menstruation, hygiene, sex education, menstrual management products