Western Influence On Japan Essay

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In 1868, the Tokugawa shogun lost his power and status, leading to the beginning of the Meiji Restoration by the Meiji emperor. To restore the emperor’s power, the capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. This was also the period Japan exposed itself to Western influences, following Commodore Perry’s demands for Japan to open up to trade in 1853. The development of modern Japan saw changes in the kimono that reflected this Western influence and the subsequent social, political and economic changes in Japan. Firstly, in the social aspect, the Western influence on Japan lead to an increased sense of national identity amongst the Japanese. This was evident through the appearance and structure of the kimono. There was a rise in popularity of Western clothing such as the swallow tail coat which even spread to court officials. Men wore Westernised suits and the kimono started to become a clothing only for women (Dalby 1995, pg 57). The act of wearing the kimono for women was more of an establishment of tradition rather than for fashion purposes (Dalby 1995, pg 65). Due to Western influence, the word kimono then signified the national dress of Japan(Dalby 1995, pg 63). Transformations in the Meiji clothing customs could then be both the declaration of and contribution to a new national culture (Dalby 1995, pg 64). The kimono was an important tool in helping the Japanese find their sense of “Japaneseness” as it displayed social cohesiveness and could be worn by anyone. The kimono was established as Japan’s national dress as the people began to generate an identity for themselves as Japanese. The…show more content…
From Meiji onwards, there were two categories of clothes that people could wear - Western clothes or kimono (Dalby 1995, pg 10). This highlights the political divide between the mindsets of people who are torn between Westernisation and traditional

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