This woodcut print from the Meiji period depicts a Japanese woman in a western dress, hat, and parasol taking a stroll.

Introduction

The Meiji period in Japan was a time of enormous change. In the space of 45 years the old samurai order of the shogun had disappeared, and the country opened itself to radically new forms of international trade and diplomacy. Missions abroad brought new thinking about government, industry and human rights back to Japan through her diplomats and students, and everything from clothing to transportation reflected the changing times. The era was encapsulated in the rule of one man whose reign-name Meiji means "enlightened rule." Born into the Yamato dynasty whose unbroken line went back over 2000 years, the life-span of the Meiji Emperor began with the arrival of Commodore Perry’s "black ships" when he was only eight months old, and ended with his death in 1912, by which time Japan had emerged as a fully-fledged world power.

The Meiji collection includes such topics as the Meiji Emperor – a short biography of Japan’s leader during this time of considerable change, Meiji Lifestyles – the changes in fashion and leisure activities, Geography – how Japan’s geographic location contributed to its history, and the advances in Transportation and Communication.


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