Modernity, Gender, and the Empire

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2008


International Institute for Asian Studies


Between the 1870s and 1945, dress was a signifier of Japan’s transition from an ‘Oriental’ country - subordinate to the West - to a bearer of ‘universal’ modernity in East Asia. By the early 20th century, when Japan had largely achieved diplomatic equality with the West and colonial dominion over parts of Asia, Western dress had come to be taken for granted by ‘modern’ Japanese men and used as a symbol of equal rights by some Japanese women.