The essay is a revision, expansion, and translation of a study previously published in Japanese. Were as many such paintings hung in an exhibition, the gallery would immediately become crowded with visitors. I am not sure that the real thing would look quite as good as the fakes do on paper. For me, as long as Peking Album lay open on the table, I need nothing else. He was also able to present his work to the public on multiple occasions, and he continuously showed his recent work, primarily at the National Painting Exhibitions. Moreover, in addition to publishing his travel memoirs in magazines and other venues,  Umehara also took part in roundtables and continued to present his impressions to the public.
Umehara was by this time in his fifties and had become one of the indisputed leaders of the Japanese art establishment. Both were designated Imperial Household Artists the following month. Besides their similar positions within the fine arts system, Umehara and Yasui shared spaces of activity as well as the subject matter of their paintings.
Like Umehara, Yasui also frequently traveled to the continent. This new line of research has focused on its political nature: This insufficiency has led to a lack of nuance in analysis. Elsewhere, I have discussed images of women in Chinese dress produced in Japan in the s and s. This essay further develops my findings. Let us first consider the historical context of the period I am examining.
As part of their visits to the mainland, they were expected to inspect and report on Manchukuo; in many cases, such visits were carried out in an official capacity. Often, in the middle of such missions visitors would stop over in Beijing: Fujishima Takeji, who traveled with Yasui to Manchuria in order to adjudicate the Manchukuo exhibition in , later and alone visited Dolonnuur Duolun, Inner Mongolia , where, under the protection of the Army, he sketched the sunrise.
I will later discuss this painting at some length. At this point I simply wish to underscore that while Umehara and Yasui visited Manchuria and China many times throughout this period, they were able to rise to the top of the establishment despite almost completely avoiding such subject matter, namely battlegrounds, the everyday lives of soldiers, historical events deserving commemoration, or war and propaganda painting. Images of women in ethnic dress were deployed in a variety of media besides painting. In other words, I will examine the process through which masculinity under empire was constructed through images of kunyan.
The image of woman became an important subject for modern painters in Japan. The late art historian Wakakuwa Midori wrote in detail about the meaning of the image of woman and its variations in modern Japanese art. Militarism was built upon such male alliance. Meanwhile, as discussed above, Umehara visited Beijing six times between and , and stayed for extended sojourns during which he painted cityscapes and historic sites, such as the Forbidden City, alongside his kunyan series.
It is surely in part due to the restrictions of the time that in this series there are no female nudes. Moreover, the women do not necessarily appear as passive figures.
Wartime Culture and the “Woman in Chinese Dress”
Indeed, as I will discuss later, there is a clear power differential between those who gaze and those who are gazed upon: For example, in his famous Chinese Girl with Tulip the model wears a lively Chinese dress see fig. The layering of black and blue lines in the strong shoulders, and the slanted eyes, with their large, black pupils directing an acute gaze, are particularly striking.
The lines of the nose have been highlighted with white, accentuating the small nose and nostrils. Umehara similarly used visible brushwork for color, and the depiction of figures with broad contour lines, in his female nudes of the s, such as Nude by the Window , Ohara Museum, Kurashiki and Nude before a Screen , Ohara Museum, Kurashiki. There is no doubt, however, that while in Beijing Umehara became enthralled by the colorful modern costume worn by Chinese women. Neither does the artist focus on the attentive depiction of a single model. Rather, he seems to have busied himself sketching kunyan of various ages and in different costumes, one after another.
Of course, it is entirely possible that the models in the photograph merely happened to be a pair of young sisters. But two paintings made at the time portrayed similar pairs figs. There is nothing meek about them. I will now address a few examples of representations of women produced in the same period in order to contrast them to the kunyan discussed above. After the promulgation of the National Spiritual Mobilization order, sumptuary regulation and a rationing system were successively enacted.
On top of their sleeved white outer garments, the women wore sashes with the name of the Association. Uniforms were intimately related to the wartime mobilization of women, as Wakakuwa Midori has pointed out, and were a requisite for those who left their homes for work. They also reported on women and children from villages in Japan and Manchuria. While the reality was indeed different, these representations appear to have compelled Japanese women on the home front to accept regulation and homogeneity, while celebrating the modernization and development of women in Manchuria and the Chinese territories under Japanese rule.
This divergent representation generated a double standard, differently applied to women in Japan proper and those under Japanese occupation.
Likewise, it became necessary for them to represent China as a woman longing to be taken by her man, Japan. But what precisely might have been the meaning of such images? Indeed, it is likely that Umehara himself may not have been fully conscious of the significance of his choice of subject matter, or the resulting paintings. At least, it is difficult to gather this from his artwork, or from his writings and recollections. Rather, we find such information in writings by men who appear to have shared a similar set of interests and background.
I will now turn to critical essays and literary works by Japanese intellectuals who visited Beijing during this period, probing what it was that they experienced in China and Manchuria, what they expected from the women there, and therefore what kind of representations of women they came to demand.
In his conclusion, Kobayashi remarks:. Although a number of women are depicted in this collection, evidently these paintings are not portraits.
Each of them has a name, and the women wear voguish attire that is not exceedingly showy. One of the women looks intently at a tulip that resembles her heart; the rest of them stare at like things.
There is no telling what they do with their large, folded arms, although it appears as if they had made a decision not to work for the benefit of society. They look at nature with such eyes; they move the paintbrush with such hands. His sojourn during this first trip lasted a little less than two months, but he again toured the continent, visiting Korea, Manchuria, and northern China, from October until the end of the year. Yet again he traveled to Manchuria and China, twice, in However, he left few texts recording what he saw and heard on such trips.
His impressions of his first trip, in , were gathered in a handful of essays: It is an accomplished painting, full of tension. One day a beautiful dawn came, and the autumn sky descended to the middle of the painting. We can also see the figure of the artist. He stands by himself, and looks as if he were waving his hand before infinity. We can almost hear him muttering to himself. At the end of the essay, the writer once again equates the depicted Chinese woman with the artist. However, Kobayashi clearly realized the impossibility of collapsing in such a manner the position of the Chinese woman with that of the artist from imperial Japan.
For them such opposition was a necessary step both in overcoming a modernity received from the West and in the development of an independent identity. Registered in England and Wales.
Nightmare Inspector: Yumekui Kenbun, Vol. 6: Recollection by Shin Mashiba
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