The opening of Japan to the West, following over two hundred years of seclusion, resulted in a number of political, economic, and cultural transitions during the Meiji era (1868-1912). A change in social gender roles and aspects of national identity, presented to the public through government discourse, were at the center of reform. This study explores the influence of Western ideas and Meiji government discourse on the population of Japan, specifically depicted in woodblock prints known as kuchi-e. Kuchi-e were found in novels and literary magazines, produced after 1895, and provide an example of art as an agent to view cultural change. Content analysis of forty kuchi-e from the Zwegat Collection provide images relating to social gender roles and the need for a strong national identity at the turn of the twentieth century. Ideas concerning the synthesis of tradition and modernity during the Meiji era are also present in the kuchi-e and provide another facet of the study. The results of the research indicate that the cultural transformation that occurred in Meiji Japan is well represented in kuchi-e woodblock prints.


Matsuzawa, Setsuko


Sociology and Anthropology


Asian Art and Architecture | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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