Bodies and Structures

Modeling War

Mitsukoshi's journals had a tradition of opening an issue with a profile of a daughter (reijo) from a prominent family, always portrayed as quietly and modestly elegant. From mid-1940, however, the reijo pieces began to show the model daughters in more practical or active pursuits, especially sports. By late 1940, the influence of war on the model consumer was irrefutable, with the young women engaged in Japanese martial arts and even flying an airplane. (Idealized femininity now had to be active outdoors as well as indoors.) The journal also introduced a military family series in November and December 1940. Yet, from 1941, the model consumer presented by Mitsukoshi began to beat a (cautious) retreat from war. The model daughter series once again became less militant from the spring of 1941, and finally came to a close in October 1941.

Instead, from June of 1941, the journal began to regularly introduce male collectors of incidental or trivial artifacts. Not only did men displace women from the individual spotlight, but these men were not figured as producers, as soldiers, or as doing anything remotely useful. They were explicitly and favorably discussed in light of their indulgence in personal whimsy, collecting dolls, figurines, toys, and fishing gear. Despite the productivist military government, consumption was being surreptitiously salvaged in its individuality and aesthetics via a redefinition of masculinity.

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