Japan Week 2021 presents this year’s lecture, “Yoshiya Nobuko and Reading Like a Girl” by Sarah Frederick (Boston University).
Yoshiya Nobuko stands as one of the most popular writers of 20th century Japan. She was widely known for her early adoption of western dress and a short haircut, and, for those in the know, for her romantic relationships with other women, including a lifelong partnership with woman teacher Monma Chiyo, whom she legally adopted later in life. Although her professional career as a paid writer began in her young adult years, she was best known for writing for and about young women or “shōjo.” An important experience of girlhood for her were the passionate friendships among young women, which she argued could be the basis for ethical behavior throughout life. Even as her writing moved into many other areas, likeromance novels, historical fiction, film adaptation, haiku, war reportage, and translation, this way of viewing the world through a girlish lens remained important to her view of the world. Her defining role in defining “girl culture” in Japan, remains important to her influence on popular culture to this day.