Erotic Grotesque: The Authenticity Complex of Japan’s Modern Girls

Fig. 7. In a markedly different style, this shin-hanga painting is another display of the moga’s Western appearance as described by the scholars Barbaraō and Miriam Silverberg. Café and Flapper [1927]. From the Honolulu Museum of Art.

During a decade of rapid change, modernity created within Japan an identity crisis in which the broader Japanese culture suffered from an “authenticity complex;” the moga embodies the clash between East and West in Japan’s late Taishō and early Shōwa periods, and this clash within her reveals how her eroticism was at once both uniquely Japanese and universally Western. Thus, an exploration of the moga in the East must first begin in the West.