Progressive-Radical Women in 
Meiji & Taisho Japan

Progressive Women in Meiji Japan (ca. 1870s).
Note the short hairstyles marking these women's break with tradition. 
Photo from Sharon L. Sievers, Flowers in Salt: The Beginnings of Feminist Consciousness in Modern Japan (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983), p. 67.

Kishida Toshiko (ca. 1890).

Sievers describes Kishida as "an early political speaker who took to the lecture platform to press for improvements in women's social and economic status.

Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 67.

An activist leading a workers' protest against the Fuji Spinning Mills in Kawasaki (ca. 1915).

Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 68.

Yajima Kajiko (ca. 1920).

Siever describes Yajima as the "founder of the Women's Reform Society and the force behind the unrelenting campaigns against prostitution conducted through much of the Meiji period."

Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 69.

Hatoyama Haruko (ca. 1920)

Sievers relates that Hatoyama was "an advocate of increased power for women within the family and an important Meiji educator"

Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 69.

Okumura Ioko (ca. 1905)

Okumra founded the Women's Patriotic Association.

Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 70.

Fukuda Hideko (ca. 1905)

Fukuda founded the journal, 
Women of the World (Sekai fujin).

Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 71.



Members of the Commoner's Society (Heiminsha) at Tokyo's Hibiya Part, February 28, 1905. According to Sievers, the group "had gathered to see two of their number, Kotoku Shusui and Nishikawa Kojiro (standing, left to right, behind their luggage), off to prison. Among those pictured are Fukuda Hideko (sixth from left), Kotoku Chiyoko (standing next to her husband), and (from left to right, at the far right) Sakai Toshiko, Kawamura Haruko, Matsuka Fumiko, and Imai Utako." Sievers, Flowers in Salt, pp. 70-71.
On the Left: Kanno Suga (ca. 1908).
Sievers describes Kanno as "a journalist and avowed anarchist who was hanged in 1911 for plotting the assassination of the Meiji Emperor in what came to be known as the Great Treason Incident.
Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 73.


"A newspaper artist's sketch of some of the defendants in the Great Treason trial. Kotoku Shusui is on the left, and Kanno Suga in the center. Like Kanno, Kotoku was found guilty and hanged."
Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 73.


Ito Noe (ca. 1911).
One of the editors of Bluestocking Journal (Seito), Ito was jailed and murdered in her cell by a Tokyo police captain in 1923. Killed along with her were her common-law husband, the anarchist Osugi Sakae, and Osugi's young nephew. The above picture was taken when she was 16 or 17 years old." 
Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 72.

Hiratsuka Raicho (left, ca. 1919), founder of the Bluestockings, and Yamada Waka, an Ameyuki-san who returned to Japan to become a strong advocate of women's rights.
Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 74.


Yosano Akiko (right, ca. 1900), a poet and writer, with her friend and fellow poet Yamakawa Tomiko. Yamakawa died of tuberculosis a few years after this photograph was taken.
Sievers, Flowers in Salt, p. 74.