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Turning Pages

Turning Pages: Reading and Writing Women’s Magazines in Interwar Japan

Sarah Frederick
Copyright Date: 2006
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  • Book Info
    Turning Pages
    Book Description:

    By the early 1920s, "ladies magazines" (fujin zasshi) had become a distinct category in Japanese publishing. Women’s periodicals increasingly influenced intellectual discourse, the literary establishment, and daily life. Turning Pages makes sense of this phenomenon through a detailed analysis of major interwar women’s magazines, especially the literary journal Ladies’ Review, the popular domestic periodical Housewife’s Friend, and the politically radical magazine Women’s Arts. Through a close examination of their literature, articles, advertising, and art, the book explores the magazines as both windows onto and actors in this vibrant period of Japanese history. Turning Pages considers the central place of representations of women for women in the culture of interwar-era Japan and our understanding of Japanese modernity. Taking a holistic approach to the texts and using tools of historical, literary, and cultural analysis, the author examines the triangular relationship among the consumers, the producers, and the texts themselves.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6532-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Preface
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. IX-X)
  5. 1 Reading the Production and Consumption of Women’s Magazines
    (pp. 1-25)

    In an early scene of Mizoguchi Kenji’s filmOsaka Elegy(Naniwa eregii, 1936), the telephone operator heroine Ayako reads a ladies’ magazine on the job.¹ The camera cuts to a headline: “Woman Corrupted by Money.” And as the plot unfolds, some combination of the power of the magazine’s suggestion and filial piety leads her to become her boss’s mistress and catch the “delinquent girl sickness”(furyō shōjo byō), alienating the very family she sought to help. By establishing Ayako this way, Mizoguchi’s elegiac portrayal of the young woman tracks many of the controversies enveloping the “ladies’ magazine”(fujin zasshi)in...

  6. 2 Serious Reading: Enlightening the Modern Woman in Ladies’ Review
    (pp. 26-83)

    A December 1916 advertisement in the magazineChūō kōron(Central review) celebrated the first anniversary of its offshoot magazine for women readers,Fujin kōron.¹ This new magazine, it claimed, covered “from every possible angle, though without sensationalism or ostentation, the various women’s issues that have stirred up new social movements.”² From the start, the publishers ofFujin kōronclaimed to place the so-called woman problem(fujin mondai)within the context of broader social transformations associated with modernity and to produce reading material that would both improve the growing group of upper- and middle-class women readers in Japan and educate male...

  7. 3 Writing Home: Modern Life in The Housewife’s Friend
    (pp. 84-136)

    Using one of the buzzwords of the day, Ishikawa Takeyoshi, the editor and founder ofShufu no tomo(The housewife’s friend), said that “women who are not yet married do not yet have anything you can call a way of life(seikatsu).”¹ The magazine’s famous slogan, “Once you’re married, it’sShufu no tomo(Kekkon shitara “Shufu no tomo”), touts the publication itself as an essential component in a married woman’s life, and reading it a way to learn to live—and want to live—a certain type of life. In approachingShufu no tomo, it is necessary to confront the...

  8. 4 Women’s Arts/Women’s Masses: Negotiating Literature and Politics in Women’s Arts
    (pp. 137-177)

    The covers ofNyonin geijutsu(Women’s arts) tell a dramatic story. Over the course of only five years, images of flowers, girls, and dolls give way to spare red, white, and black graphics suggestive of a modernist, radical culture, and then again to the yellow and red of communism that adorned photographs of laborers worldwide. Lastly come a changed name and a drab newsprint broadside publication. I was inspired to embark on this project based on my first encounter with the sensory impact of these covers and my resulting curiosity about the artistic and political energies and historical forces that...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 178-184)

    A glossy array of periodicals lines the shelves of Japanese bookstores and newsstands today. The women’s magazine section presents, together withFujin kōronandShufu no tomo, a magazine for almost every age group and niche market:Orange Page (Orenji pēji)for the young woman learning to cook,An-anfor the young dating scene,Bagelfor the health-conscious thirty-something,EGGfor the wild teenager,Mistyfor the girl seeking to have her fortune told.¹ Although not as numerous, titles also target men, including both aficionados of certain hobbies and those seeking niche-market fashion magazines such asSamurai, a guide to...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 185-222)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 223-240)
  12. Index
    (pp. 241-252)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 253-254)