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Oxford University Press


Hiratsuka Haruko (1886-1971), pioneering Japanese feminist. Hiratsuka took the pen name "Raicho" (meaning "snow grouse") when she founded the women's literary magazine Seito (Bluestocking) in 1911. Her manifesto-like poem in Seito-"In the beginning, Woman was the Sun" -symbolizes Japan's self-affirming feminism of the 1910s and 1920s, the era of the New Woman. Feminists in the 1970s claimed Hiratsuka as a foremother for this inspirational manifesto. At the center of feminist activities for a decade, Hiratsuka withdrew from leadership roles in 1921 but nevertheless contributed to the consumer, birth-control, and women's arts movements before World War II. After 1945 she devoted herself to peace organizations. Other feminists are better known for specific causes-Ichikawa Fusae for women's suffrage, Oku Mumeo for consumerism, Yamakawa Kikue for workers' rights, and Kato Shidzue for reproductive rights-but Hiratsuka, involved in each of these movements, inspired other women's activism.

Chapter of

Encyclopedia of Women in World History


Bonnie G. Smith


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This material was originally published in Encyclopedia of Women in World History edited by Bonnie G. Smith, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit



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