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The New Japanese Woman: Modernity, Media, and Women in Interwar Japan (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society) Hardcover – April 16, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (April 16, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822330083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822330080
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,853,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Barbara Sato has produced a superb book on the construction of a new women's culture in Japan in the interwar period. In captivating detail, she documents the creation of a new subjectivity—'women'—through the interactions of middle-class women with consumer capitalism and the mass media. By showing us the myriad ways that women wrote themselves into the narratives of modernity, Sato's book opens up new ways of thinking about the relationship between women and the modern.”—Louise Young, author of Japan’s Total Empire

“In no other study of Japanese women are issues of gender and social history so magnificently intertwined. No other work in the English language provides such a detailed view of the multiple configurations of mass culture (film, radio, popular magazines, department stores, fashions, etc.) in the 1920s and 1930s. This is a remarkable accomplishment.”—Don Roden, author of Schooldays in Japan

“Now the 'new women’ of interwar Japan join their subversive sisters around the globe in this vivid presentation of the social imaginaries of the modern girl, the housewife, and the professional working woman of middle-class Tokyo. Self-consciously modern, they were also evoked by their critics to redefine modernity, though not necessarily in directions they themselves might have wished. A new story, an old story, well told and nicely illustrated.”—Carol Gluck, Columbia University

About the Author

Barbara Sato is Professor of History at Seikei University in Tokyo. She is coeditor of Gender and Modernity: Rereading Japanese Women's Magazines.

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21 of 30 people found the following review helpful By M Everest-phillips on July 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
The author has found a very interesting topic and assembled a good array of source material. Unfortunately her style, while thankfully relatively free of jargon and theory, fails to develop her ideas and jumps around so the thinking does not develop.

Instead she endlessly repeats that there was a connection between concepts of modernity, consumerism and the 'moga'/'modern woman' without developing how this simple idea played out in Japan in different ways to the similar phenomenon elsewhere at the same time. She does not develop the historical background in a coherent fashion - e.g. the role of World War 1 , given that Japan was the only wartime ally who did not engage in significant fighting but economically gained huge benefits and colonies, all of which had various social impacts. The development of her colonies, particularly Manchuria, is not analysed on her theme.

Most significantly, she fails to put her ideas into the essential political and economic context without which the theme of the book is rendered almost meaningless. It would be impossible from this book to know, for example, that Japan suffered two major economic depressions (at the end of world war 1, and from 1927) during the period covered - what impact did that have? We learn right at the end that even after the war the number of 'love marriages' rather than arranged marriages was still only 15% - so how much social impact had the aims of the new woman really had?

The reason why the author fails to grasp some of these broad themes is that she does not put the 'new woman' into the wider issue - how did the 'new man' of the 1920s and 1930s respond to the aspirations of newly liberated women? How did political discourse engage and change because of these social developments - e.g. from this book it would almost be impossible to understand that Japan invaded East Asia and provoked a world war - what was the 'new woman' doing whilst all that was going on?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By DS on December 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent overview of a topic that has not received much attention in academic circles, specifically, Japanese women's magazines in the 1920s and 30s. But to be clear, this is an academic book, and specifically addressing the literary/cultural studies field. The comments below that the book does not address economic trends is irrelevant. For scholars who are looking for an informed, well-researched, and well-written guide to prewar women's magazines, and for information on the formation of normative images of Japanese women, this is a good place to start.
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