By Ayako Kano (auth.)
Weaving jointly cautious readings of performs and studies, memoirs and interviews, biographies and important essays, performing Like a lady in sleek Japan strains the emergence of the 1st iteration of contemporary actresses in Japan, a kingdom within which male actors had lengthy ruled the general public degree. What emerges is a colourful and complicated photo of recent eastern gender, theater, and nationhood. utilizing the lives and careers of 2 dominant actresses from the Meiji period, Kano finds the fantasies, fears, and effect that ladies on degree created in Japan because it entered the 20 th century.
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Additional resources for Acting Like a Woman in Modern Japan: Theater, Gender, and Nationalism
Historians have pointed out that in the Edo period preceding 1868, it was social class, rather than gender, that most strongly defined a person's status in society. 48 The new government after 1868 ostensibly "leveled" the class hierarchy, unifying the general populace into one class of "common people" (heimin). At the same time, the government started issuing various laws and pronouncements that addressed women in all classes, differentiating them from men. 49 This is of course not to suggest that class hierarchies ceased to exist and to powerfully shape people's experiences; nonetheless, it is significant that in the Meiji period, legal, political, educational, and other discourses installed a category of woman that would cut across class differentiations.
Chitose Beiha, one of the geisha, continued to appear in a few other performances, but the Seibikan theater quickly folded due to internal squabbling. None of the women performers were heard from much thereafter. The figures of Ichikawa Kumehachi, Chitose Beiha, and other women like them represent an important subplot in the story about the rise of actresses in modern Japan. Significantly, women like Ichikawa Kumehachi and Chitose Beiha were usually called "female players" (onna yakusha) or "female actors" (onna haiyii), but hardly ever "actresses" (joyii).
Until 1883, a mistress (gonsai) was recognized legally as having the same status as wife, a situation that was finally changed due to pressures from enlightenment intellectuals and feminist activists in favor of monogamy and wifeing. The practice of men of means keeping mistresses continued, however, with the legal status of the kept woman now less certain. When Sadayakko became the mistress of the business tycoon Fukuzawa Momosuke, she transgressed against the wifely ideal in two ways: She gave up her own status as legal WIFEING THE WOMAN 45 widow of Kawakami Otojiro, and she entered into direct competition with fiFukuzawa Momosuke's legal wife.