Some Prefer Nettles In The 1920's

1000 Words4 Pages
Some Prefer Nettles takes place in Japan in the late 1920’s, after the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923. This is an important period because they were still economically recovering from the effects of the earthquake. Also, Japan was moving towards a more modern society, and they were starting to gain recognition as a world power. In 1920 Japan joined the League of Nations (McClain, 335). Japan was no longer looked at as a country that imperialistic nations could take advantage of. They were looking towards the future and they were using the West as an example for the kind of country they wanted to be.
If someone read Some Prefer Nettles without knowing the history of Japan, there would be many things they would become confused about. This novel
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Puppet theater and other traditional art forms were being replaced with more modern types of entertainment, like movies and plays. These plays were originals by Japanese playwrights, but there were also translated Western plays. Japan started making movies in 1899, and since then more than 100 films were being produced each year (McClain, 355). Bunraku plays were a lengthy affair, so it makes sense that people chose shorter options. Puppet theater may still be alive in the western side of Japan, but in Tokyo bunraku plays were a thing of the past (Tanizaki, 145). Bunraku puppet theater is what draws Kaname to the past, though originally, he was reluctant to go. He only went because he felt it was necessary to appease his father in…show more content…
Each woman is very different. O-hisa is very traditional, while Misako and Louise are more modern women. Having three very different women is important because it shows a more accurate representation of women during that time. A women’s place in society and how she should act was quickly changing. There was an emergence of moga, which were modern women. Louise had a bobbed hairstyle which was the preferred style of moga. She also showed off her legs with short clothing and high heels (Tanizaki, 161). Misako may not have dressed like a modern woman, but she acted like one. O-hisa on the other hand was very different. She is referred to as an antique in Misako’s fathers’ collection, and she dresses and acts like such (Tanizaki, 7). Her blackened teeth and traditional dress set her apart from both Misako and Louise. O-hisa was very doll like and resembled the puppets in the Bunraku theater. In the very last few scenes of the novel, Kaname even mistook a puppet that his father in law had bought in Awaji for her. In the western world blackened teeth, ghostly white skin, and the many unshapely layers of dress were never looked upon as the standard of beauty, in fact they were the opposite. But O-hisa exemplifies what makes a traditional Japanese female beautiful. Hearing about Japanese beauty standards in a history text is one thing but being shown it in a novel helps us to truly understand
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