The Meiji emperor and empress served as examples to promote the new policy of westernization. When the emperor cut off his traditional top-knot, it set off a revolution in men’s hair fashion, and once the empress was seen dressed in western fashion wealthy ladies raced to outdo each other with current trends in dresses and shoes. By 1872 western attire was required for all court functions.

Despite constant correction, the emperor never learned to ride his horse sitting upright but always slumped forward like a warlord. The empress, however, was a beautiful figurehead for all things western.

Guests would arrive at social clubs and balls teetering on their new shoes, attempting to control their voluminous dresses and greeting each other with the new custom of shaking hands. Guests might be served such exotic food as beef, bread, and beer. Some Japanese learned to play piano or violin and studied European musical composition – completely different from traditional Japanese music.

The Meiji emperor and empress served as examples to promote the new policy of westernization. When the emperor cut off his traditional top-knot, it set off a revolution in men’s hair fashion, and once the empress was seen dressed in western fashion wealthy ladies raced to outdo each other with current trends in dresses and shoes. By 1872 western attire was required for all court functions.

Despite constant correction, the emperor never learned to ride his horse sitting upright but always slumped forward like a warlord. The empress, however, was a beautiful figurehead for all things western.

Guests would arrive at social clubs and balls teetering on their new shoes, attempting to control their voluminous dresses and greeting each other with the new custom of shaking hands. Guests might be served such exotic food as beef, bread, and beer. Some Japanese learned to play piano or violin and studied European musical composition – completely different from traditional Japanese music.

© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.

The Meiji imperial family visiting Yasukuni Shrine, the resting place of Japanese Army and Navy soldiers.

The Meiji imperial family is visiting Yasukuni Shrine on Kudan-zaka Hill, the resting place of Japanese Imperial Army and Navy soldiers.

Inoue Yasuji
Gift of Lunds Auctioneer and Appraisers Ltd. Purchase Fund
c. 1888
JAPAN
AGGV 2004.033.001
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


The emperor, empress, and attendant ride in a horse drawn coach as part of a procession for their silver anniversary.

The emperor, empress, and attendant ride in a horse drawn coach as part of a procession for their silver (25th) anniversary.

Watanabe Nobukazu
Gift of Mr. Norman Christie
c. 1894
JAPAN
AGGV 1989.034.006
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Commissioned by Mitsui Clothing store - a family in a western-style living room looking at patterns of the new Autumn season.

Number seven in a series of twelve commissioned by Mitsui Clothing Store to promote its new image. It shows a family in a western-style living room looking at dress patterns of the new autumn season.

Mizuno Toshikata
Given in memory of Jo-Ann Lajeunesse by her daughter Carrie Lajeunesse and family.

JAPAN
AGGV T2006.004.003
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


The Mitsui Clothing store changed its name to Mitsukoshi in 1904 - this is one of its department stores today.

The Mitsui Clothing store (as it was known during the Meiji period, though it originated as a dry goods store in 1673) changed its name to Mitsukoshi in 1904 - this is one of its many department stores today.

Unknown
Wikimedia Commons
c. 2005
Tokyo, JAPAN
Public Domain


A traditional Japanese dinner consisting of several small courses and beautifully presented.

Though Japan has been significantly influenced by western culture, including food, its traditional cuisine still remains. Kaiseki Ryori is a traditional Japanese dinner consisting of several small courses, usually about ten. Each course is beautifully presented in special dinnerware and often things from nature, such as flowers or tree leaves, accompany the dish for decoration.

Photograph taken by Jonathan Lathigee
c. 2004
JAPAN
© 2006, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The following learning objectives have been created with considerable and specific reference to the Prescribed Learning Outcomes (PLOs) for various grades and subjects as outlined by the Ministry of Education for the province of British Columbia. The portions that directly reflect curricula language have been italicized. All applicable texts, websites, and other learning resources are listed in the bibliography under References.

• Students will appreciate the lifestyle of the emperor and empress and their role as figureheads in promoting the new regime in order to ease the cultural transition thus allowing students to analyze how such methods of cultural transmission contribute to the identity of civilizations.
• Students will understand western influence on Japanese mores through an analysis of court dress and procedures and describe ways social and political organizations satisfy needs and wants in a variety of cultures.
• Students will realize the immense changes of this pivotal break with tradition witnessed by everyday Japanese wherein everything from food to music to dress was under review and make logical connections between historical and contemporary events and issues.


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