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Author: Aurore Yamagata-Montoya    |   Pages: 177–197



This article presents the changing image of Japanese women during the late nineteenth century in both Japan and America. It focuses on two photographs of the five girls who accompanied the Iwakura Mission to America in 1871 showing how the Japanese government encouraged a Westernised image of Japanese women for political reasons. However, I demonstrate that, despite the role the girls played in bringing a “modern” vision of Japanese women to America, exotic representations could not be erased so easily. Ten years after the images were taken, the Japanese government itself modified its position and reverted to more traditional discourses.


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