In many scholarly papers, Naomi is regarded as a testimony for prompting women’s liberation that signifies the “emerging figure of Japanese modern girl (Moga) in 1920s. I agree that Naomi is a testimony for promoting women’s liberation in Japan. This is because Moga is the modern girl of 1920s during the era of Taisho where modernization has already crept into japan. Jazz and the tight clothes showing all curves and hollows of the modern girl were eminent and every woman in japan wanted to be modern (Tanizaki 116). Naomi is the Moga of that time. She is made to be a child wife; he has nothing else special that could be said of him (Tanizaki 121). This burning desire was driven by the fact that the modern woman of the time before liberation could be molded by the man to his taste. Joji’s plan was to make Naomi a woman with style and standards of grace like that of western. Joji’s goal opens a way for liberation. Though the way might be hidden in a way, the man’s decision to give Naomi independence over space and freedom of his money opens the road to liberation of Naomi (woman). Though Naomi is a mere young girl at fifteen compared to Joji until he cannot see the change of things (Tanizaki 123).
Naomi not only disobeys the normal assumption of marrying Joji and becoming his wife but in its place becomes disloyal to Joji having intimate relations with other males, Japanese and Western, habitually with at least one in a single day. Eventually, as the story ends, Naomi is completely changed. She oversleeps, does no work at home, enjoys continuous entertainment every evening, and has made the male character of the story subservient to her (Tanizaki 76). The ethical aspect of this narrative as articulated by Tanizaki is that Japan, like Joji, is becoming subdued by overseas values that contravene the Japan’s customary values, and the Moga being the personification of this transformation is the utmost warning.
The dual image of the modern girl, both alluring and ruinous, serves as a two-edged sword. It reflects the Japanese male positive sentiments in relation to the Western civilization, as fragmented, ambiguous, often contradicting and stratified. It portrays the outrageous graveyard that buries the traditions of the Japanese people as well (Tanizaki 102). The narrative of Naomi creates an impression that the story is about love. On the contrary, it is not simply a romance narrative between Joji and Naomi. Rather, it is an emblematic romance between the protagonist, Joji, and his Western imagination. It clearly depicts a Western material civilization refined through a pair of Japanese eyes.
Transformation throughout the interwar ages was understood as a pronounced threat to many traditionalists within Japan’s advanced establishment. In japan, the modern girl was a symbolic representation of the prevailing wave of modernization. It was dreaded as a threat to the Japanese customary culture and the. That was how she was depicted to the overall population (Tanizaki 63). Some intellectuals however, believe that the modern girl broadcasted I the media was an exaggeration of a trivial percentage of real women who would be considered contemporary. These exaggerations were attributed to the fear of the small percentage that had been modernized inciting other others to falling victims of the western culture and abandon their own
There is an interesting twist of events as the story progresses. Naomi progressively becomes conceited in contrast to earlier stages of their relationship when she addressed Joji as “papa”. Such a lexical shift portrays the power dynamic metamorphosis between Joji and Naomi culminating in Naomi’s successful ascension to power and the ultimate dominance. She uses her body as a weapon to convert men into her playthings. Naomi’s insatiable sexual desire manifest and her obstructive sexuality disclose the danger of modernity on a metaphorical level. Naomi is a mirror created by Joji. It reflects a man’s desires and fears (Tanizaki 13).
Aspect of Women Liberation
As a result of immigration of Western women and the introduction of Western cinemas, music, and style, Japanese women learnt that they could equally do some of the things that were ‘preserved’ for men only. Biologically there was no dissimilarity stuck between the Japanese and Western female, but in lifestyle the Japanese lady was limited to the home and was majorly involved in the running home affairs. In divergence, the Western woman was not limited by the same boundaries. She could go any places she pleased, earn her personal income, possess her personal property, and be sexually close with her spouse for choice instead of the tenacity of reproducing. In retrospect, one can understand how the Japanese organization created the Moga by taking the features of the reorganized Western lady.
Additional indication of the osmosis that happened as Western principles were introduced in Japan was the transformation of subject matter in the film industry. The film production and its depiction of female individuality were the most significant source for devising the public facade of Japanese females. Japanese actresses depicted an image of violent sexuality and disordered the ideology of women’s deliverance as “liberation of flesh”.
In contrast, other images depicted by actresses encompassed subtle practices such as dodging eye-contact and nebulousness of facial languages that endorsed the ideals of feminineness and the customary form of the Japanese lady. The undesirable appearance of the Moga was supported at all open time in Japanese civilization, and even the modern features that the Moga stood for were used to generate bias to the social group.
As stated before, the introduction of American beliefs throughout the interwar years created a gush of conversation that quizzed the accepted dogmas and roles of Japanese civilization. Feminism interrogated the subservient role of females in the household system, and the political limits placed on women. Communism conveyed to light the disparity between classes, and the necessity for land reform in countryside Japan. The social stiffness was on the upswing, and so the organization in order to circumvent a general uprising, created a foe to unite the people behind. The Moga and her divergent ways befitted the source of all societal disturbance and direct danger to the sacred establishments of customary Japan. Her opposition to custom, marriage, chastity, and submission was used as a catalyst to explode the fears of the grassroots that Japan was losing its exclusive beauty to the influences of the West.
The customary Japanese female and the Moga were two very contrasting views existing throughout the Taisho time and the interwar years. In regard to the customary Japanese woman, her outlooks for herself were the similar to those of her spouse and so hostility between the two sexes was very low to non-existent. It was a position well-defined by the “formal superiority of men and the relaxed supremacy of women,” where though the man was superior socially, civically, and economically, his spouse still retained supremacy over him because she managed the home realm and the children. For various traditional Japanese women, this was sufficient satisfaction and contentment in life, but for several others the appeal of Western belief promised a dissimilar type of fulfillment and contentment some females could not find in her.
David Lu’s brings the picture of the two empires: Maji and Taisho into weigh and balance. He discusses that during the Maji era, prominent persons in government. Instead they educated for a one man empire (David 117). However, during his era, japan experienced vast changes not only economically but also socially. This was driven by the citizen’s life for democracy and growth. (David 128). The aim of these interests and urge was to get at some level with the western nations of the world. On the other hand, Taisho’s empire advocated for shift of power from one generation to another. Movements for individual rights became eminent under this empire (David 130). This was as a result of popular expression among citizens for the bid for equality in education, places of work among others. Under the empire also, the right to vote was put to practice unlike in the Maji’s empire, voting was for a minority of population, in Taisho’s empire, voting was not only for many but also for women (David 150).
The government reserved its care for the traditional female because it was scared of misplacing the essence of Japan that was found in the configuration of the family system and was scared that modernization would only lead to societal turbulence and objection. Since the government could not lawfully force Japanese women to stay within the home territory, administrators employed a media crusade against the Moga to sway the populace to dread and dislike the modern Japanese female. They used deleterious images of sexual deviancy, non-cooperation of tradition and submission, and a loss of Japan to the West that sought to subconsciously and compulsorily turn modern women back to their roles as the household manager. However, the real Moga was not a rebellious sexual deviant out to finish Japanese culture. She worked for an academic and economic freedom she could never have imagined earlier. The creation of the popularized negative view of the Moga was an uninterrupted result of conformist Japanese initiative to reappearance to the traditional female distinctiveness.