日本語版はこちらHashiguchi Goyō and Constructions of Female Identity in the Taishō Era
On one hand, the modern girl (modan gāru or moga for short)—sporting pumps, short dress, bobbed hair, and conspicuous in such modern spaces as cafes and urban streets…held the promise or threat of cultural and sexual liberation…. On the other hand, the traditional woman—championed in official ideology as “good wife, wise mother” (ryōsai kenbo), and belonging to the space of the home—stood guard over conventional values sanctioned by Confucian and Victorian morality alike.
-Kendall H. Brown, “Flowers of Taishō: Images of Women in Japanese Society and Art, 1915–1935,” Taishō Chic (2001).
Rebellious, sexually liberated “modern girls” and women who assumed more traditional, domestic roles represented two significant sections of Japanese society during the Taishō era (1912–1926). The four woodblock prints by Hashiguchi Goyō (1880–1921) displayed here are typically used to illustrate the latter of these social types. Though each model is partly nude, her dishabille is justified by her private activities, such as bathing or applying makeup. The degree to which the model is aware of the viewer’s presence and whether or not she openly welcomes the viewer’s gaze is unclear, however. The possibility that she might be coyly seducing the viewer infuses the prints with a sense of tension. In this way, Goyō ingeniously eroticizes the image of “good wife, wise mother” while placating those critics who sought to ban more blatant depictions of sexuality.
In his private sketches of the model Nakatani Tsuru (born c. 1900), Goyō gives free rein to his sexual fantasies and, in doing so, challenges the binary view of Taishō women described above. Nakatani served as a waitress at Ichō, a restaurant in Osaka. The traditional fashion required for such an occupation alienated Nakatani from the modern girl movement, but at the same time, her engagement in recreational sex contradicts the sense of propriety implied by the term “good wife, wise mother.”