Arts and Culture
This paper will look at the (trans) formation and (re)presentation of gender in the Edo period by examining the introduction and establishment of the habit of tobacco smoking by looking at Ukiyo-e prints and tobacco-related handicrafts.
Since 'discovered' by Columbus, tobacco leaf and smoking habit were brought to Europe and soon spread to Africa and Asia. In the late 16th century, the Nanban trade brought it to Japan, and already during the Keicho period (1596-1615), smoking became common among Japanese people. The Edo period saw the unique development of Japanese smoking culture, fusing with the green tea tradition and producing different smoking apparatus of distinguishing design such as kiseru (pipe) and portable tobacco case, to become one of the most popular subjects of Ukiyo-e prints.
Contrary to the modernist moral consent, and to a surprise of the Dutch arrived at Nagasaki as introduced by Ernest Satow to the 19th-century readership, tobacco was widely consumed by Japanese people regardless of gender. The small anecdote of the Dutch's astonishment reflects the Western social norm of gender established around smoking, tied to the male sociability (but for that reason later became a symbol of the feminist movement), cast upon the 'otherness' of Asian culture.
Through examining visual representations of the habit as well as the design of apparatus and artifacts from Edo period, this paper will explore how they formed and demonstrated feminity and masculinity, to such an extent, for example, a kiseru to metonymically embody the owner's sexual body and dignified identity.