Bodies and Structures

Locating Reijo


The journals published by the Osaka Mitsukoshi maintained through much of the Asia-Pacific War the store's long tradition of special features spotlighting daughters (reijo) o​f the local elite. In this case, the featured families were drawn from Osaka corporate leadership along with the aristocracy.  Framed as a visit (homon) to a particular household, the neighborhoods (though not exact addresses) of the women were often mentioned along with their names, ages, schools, and hobbies (both Japanese, such as flower arranging, and Western, such as sewing clothes from patterns).  

The map above roughly indicates a number of the neighborhoods mentioned, likely recognized by readers at the time as elegant and exclusive. (Unfortunately, many of the prewar place names are no longer used.)  Such concrete details as neighborhood provided during a Mitsukoshi household "visit" acted to ground the seeming reality of an idealized Mitsukoshi customer.

 That is, the effect of this carefully curated fact—precisely not fiction—was to nurture what could only be a fantasy for most. Nevertheless, we can read these reijo features backwards to begin to reconstruct various spatial dimensions of class.


In addition, if one examines more portraits in this long-running series, the featured women were never engaged in the act of consuming itself. Rather, they were situated in gracious and intimate spaces suited for performances, creating art, or hobbies. Good taste apparently demanded subtlety in, though by no means rejection of, modern consumerism. 


 

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