chapter  5
19 Pages

The Emperor’s sons go to war: competing masculinities in modern Japan


From the late nineteenth century, Japanese society underwent great changes. This chapter examines how Japanese masculinity evolved against the background of a Japan that was embracing a Western-inspired modernity. Amidst the uprooting of the previously dominant historical culture, Japanese men sought a version of modernity based more in some sort of cultural authenticity (Harootunian 2000). I wish to argue that Japanese men appropriated the older cultural model of the samurai, not only as a refuge against the rapid changes that Japan was undergoing, but also as part of a national ideology centred on the emperor.