For centuries, Japanese culture, including ideals of feminine beauty, was profoundly shaped by China. In this first full comparative history on the subject, Cho Kyo explores changing standards of beauty in China and Japan, ranging from plumpness to bound feet to blackened teeth. Drawing on a rich array of sources gathered over a decade of research, he considers which Chinese representations were rejected or accepted and transformed in Japan. He then traces the introduction of Western aesthetics into Japan starting in the Meiji era, leading to slowly developing but radical changes in the representation of beauty. Through fiction, poetry, art, advertisements, and photographs, the author vividly demonstrates how criteria of beauty differ greatly by era and culture and how aesthetic sense changed in the course of extended transformations that were influenced by both China and the West.
Cho Kyo is professor of comparative culture and literature in the School of Global Japanese Studies at Meiji University, Japan and a guest professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken). Among his recent publications are The Pitfall in Cultural Understanding (Ibunka rikai no otoshiana), Crossing the Border: A New Aspect of Modern Japanese Literature (Umi wo koeru Nihon bungaku), A Cultural History of Emotion in Chinese Literature and Culture (Jo no bunkashi), and Glimpses of East Asian Literature and Culture (Ajia wo yomu). He also serves as a regular book reviewer for the Mainichi. Kyoko Iriye Selden (1936-2013) was coeditor of More Stories by Japanese Women Writers: An Anthology, the sequel to Japanese Women Writers: Twentieth Century Short Fiction. Her other translations included Honda Katsuichi's Harukor: An Ainu Woman's Tale, Kayano Shigeru's Our Land Was a Forest, and The Atomic Bomb: Voices from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She taught Japanese language at Cornell University until her retirement.
Chapter 1: Favored Appearances Chapter 2: Feared Beauties Chapter 3: The Rhetoric of Representation Chapter 4: Beauty as a Construct Chapter 5: Beauties in Chinese Verse and Prose, Beauties in Japanese Literature Chapter 6: Resonance of Aesthetic Views Chapter 7: Edo Culture as a Filter Chapter 8: Until Naomi was Born Epilogue: Where Beauty Will Go