Harada 2002 Prostitutes

Title Information

Author: Kazue Harada

Title: Good Bad Girls

Subtitle: Writers' Romanticization of Prostitutes in the Post War Era

Thesis: M.A. Thesis, University of British Columbia

Year: December 2002

Pages: vii + 137pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | Japanese History, Korean History | Representations: Literature / Tamura Taijirô; Types: "Comfort Women", Wartime Rape / Asia-Pacific War

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Link: cIRcle [Free Access]

Additional Information


»This thesis explores four Japanese male writers' romantic representations of prostitutes during the post-war period, specifically the period of the U.S. occupation of Japan (1945-1952). Literary works examined here exemplify the writers' adherence to idealized versions of femininity in the form of female prostitutes. The works were selected both for their notoriety as popular literature in the post-war period, and for their focus on female Japanese prostitutes and comfort women.
The main body of this work consists of six chapters. The discussion begins with an overview of how prostitutes are seen as 'akujo' or 'bad girls' in post-war Japanese society. This section includes an overview of the 'tradition' of Japanese prostitution and of the systematic public stigmatization of prostitutes, including the perception of pan-pan prostitutes as akujo. Citing the scholarly works of Saeki Junko and Liza Dalby, the second chapter discusses male writers' interest in these prostitutes (as akujo), and the tradition of romanticizing these women in their novels in the modern era (1868 and onward).
The bulk of analysis in this work draws from individual writers' portrayals of prostitutes. In particular, the analysis argues that post-war male writings share a similar theme: that of recovering one's humanity from Japan's wartime mentality. The writers emphasize physical and sexual desires as key aspects in their notion of humanism. For example, in Chapter Three, Sakaguchi Ango's works "Sensô to hitori no onna" (The War and a Woman, 1946) and "Zoku, sensô to hitori no onna" (The War and a Woman, the Sequel, 1946) are shown to share a similar plot that includes portrayals of ex-prostitutes as akujo. These portrayals are grounded in what Sakaguchi refers to as 'degradation theory' in his essay "Darakuron" (On Decadence, 1946), which argues that regaining one's post-war humanity requires sexually liberating acts— including creating connections to prostitutes.
In Chapter Four, Tamura Taijirô's "Nikutai no mon" (Gate of the Flesh, 1947) and "Shunpu-den" (The Story of a Prostitute, 1947) provide further examples of the tendency to equate sex with humanism in their depictions of both pan-pan prostitutes and comfort women. These portrayals of women support Tamura's theory of'flesh.' Tamura suggests that sexual and physical awakening will revive Japan's post-war society by portraying pan-pans' and comfort women as saviours of regular Japanese soldiers. Both Sakaguchi and Tamura's theories are linked to the post-war ethos.
In Chapter Five, I explore Ishikawa Jun's portrayals of prostitutes using the literary techniques yatsushi and mitate, both of which imagine transformation through masquerade, in "Ôgon densetsu" (The Legend of Gold, 1946) and Kayoi Komachi (1947). Through their transformations, Ishikawa's female characters transcend both time and stereotypical female imagery.
In Chapter Six, Yoshiyuki Junnosuke's Genshoku no machi (The Town of Primary Colours, 1951) and "Shôfu no heya" (The Prostitute's Room, 1958; trans, as In Akiko's Room, 1977), contain portrayals of prostitutes' lives in the red-light districts, and explicitly depict female characters' sexual behaviour. Yoshiyuki characterizes prostitutes as outcasts from society and romanticizes the bonds between these women and male characters.
To conclude, this paper suggests that the post-war male writers discussed romanticize prostitutes in their texts as part of a desire for social change and concern for humanity.« [Source: Thesis]


  Abstract (p. ii)
  Acknowledgements (p. vii)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter One: Prostitution in Japan (Pan-pan Prostitutes as Akujo) (p. 6)
  The U.S. Occupatioon Period (1945-52) (p. 6)
  The History of Prostitution and the Emergence of 'Pan-pan' Prostitution (p. 7)
  U.S. Military-Prostitution in Occupied Japan (p. 10)
  Type of Pan-pan Prostitutes (p. 14)
  Public Opinion about Pan-pan Prostitutes (p. 15)
  Studies on Pan-pan Prostitutes (p. 17)
  Prostitution as Shameful Occupation (p. 19)
  Summary (p. 25)
  Chapter Two: The History of Male Romanticization of Prostitutes in Modern Japan (p. 29)
  Nostalgia for Pre-Modern Feminine Qualities in Pre-war Times: Nagai Kafû (p. 36)
  'Realist' Portrayals of Prostitutes by Higuchi Ichiyô (p. 41)
  Female Writers in thge 1920's (p. 44)
  Male Writers' Romanticization of Prostitutes in the Post-war Period (p. 46)
  'Realistic' Lives of Prostitutes Portrayed by Post-war Female Writers (p. 46)
  Reviving Forgotten Pan-pan Stories (p. 52)
  Male Romanticization of Female Characters as Akujo (Bad Girls) in Contemporary Times (p. 53)
  Romanticization of Masculinity (p. 55)
  Conclusion (p. 56)
  Chapter Three: Sakaguchi Ango: The Romanticization of 'Akujo' (Bad Girls) According to the Theory of Decadence (p. 64)
  Male Narrator Perspective on Women (Onna) (p. 65)
  The Female First Person's Perspective: Being Akujo (p. 68)
  Sakaguchi's Theory of Degradation: Part of Survival in The Post-war Era (p. 69)
  Sakaguchi's Idealized Prostitutes (p. 70)
  Nostalgia for Pre-war Femininity (p. 71)
  Conclusion (p. 72)
  Chapter Four: Tamura Taijirô: 'Flesh' Is Essential (p. 76)
  "Gate of the Flesh" (p. 77)
  The Independence of Pan-pan Girls (p. 78)
  The Romanticization of Pan-pan Girls' Eccentricity (p. 80)
  Nostalgia for Pre-war Japanese Femininity (p. 82)
  Nostalgia for Pre-war Japanese Masculinity (p. 84)
  Maya's Crucifixion: Sacred Imagery (p. 85)
  "Shunpu-den": The Representation of Comfort Women (p. 87)
  The Romanticization of Korean Comfort Women Through 'Flesh' Theory and the Justification of Japanese Soldiers' Violent Acts (p. 89)
  Romanticization: Criticism of Elite Soldiers and Japanese Patriotism (p. 93)
  Chapter Five: Ishikawa Jun: Two Diverging Representations of the Feminine From a Romanticizing Male Perspective (p. 96)
  Ishikawa Jun and The Burai-ha School (p. 96)
  "The Legend of Gold" (p. 97)
  Yatsushi as a Technique for Transformation (p. 100)
  Mitate as an Imitative Technique (p. 101)
  Ishikawa's Use of Mitate in Kayoi Komachi (p. 102)
  Mitate Using Sacred and Universal Imagery (p. 105)
  Chapter Six: Yoshiyuki Junnosuke: Romanticizing Bonds Between Male Characters and Prostitutes (p. 111)
  Memoirs of Prostitutes in Red-Light Districts (p. 112)
  Romanticization of Male Characters: Emotional Consolationn with Prostitutes (p. 112)
  Male Characters' Stereotypes of Prostitutes and Romanticization of Their Eccentricity (p. 115)
  Conclusion (p. 121)
  Appendix 1 (p. 126)
  Bibliography (p. 127)

Wikipedia: Comfort women, Japanese war crimes, Pacific War, Taijiro Tamura, War rape

Added: February 1, 2014 | Last updated: February 1, 2014