Katsushika Hokusai: Feminine Wave and Masculine Wave


Dragonfly helmet, made in Japan in the 17th century (source).

High-ranking lords began to embellish their helmets with sculptural forms so that they could be visually located on the battlefield. Exotic helmets (kawari kabuto) also allowed leaders to choose symbolic motifs for their helmets that reflected some aspect of their personality or that of their collective battalions. This helmet is shaped like a giant dragonfly. In Japan, the dragonfly is symbolic of focused endeavor and vigilance because of its manner of moving up, down and sideways while continuing to face forward. In addition, in ancient texts Japan was often referred to as Akitsushima (Land of the Dragonflies), because of their abundance. They were also thought to be the spirits of rice, since they are often to be found hovering above the flooded rice fields. - from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts description

The color photography of Elliott Erwitt  c. 1950s-1970s


1964 Japanese Coca Cola Ad

Japanese Youth in Revolt, 1964. Photos by Michael Rougier for Life Magazine(via)


" Dragon"  Artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Woodblock print. About 1840,s, Japan


Admiring a Folding Fan, 1910s, Japan.   Momotaro, seated on the left, and four other Maiko (Apprentice Geisha) admiring the decoration on a folding fan. A vintage postcard from the late 1910s or early 1920s.  

Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as the Great Wave, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)- Katsushika Hokusai ca. 1830–32 (via)


Artist: Kuniyoshi (Genji)
Date: 1845
Size/Format: Oban Tate-e 9.75 by 14.25 inches
Description: Chapter number: 22 Chapter name: Tamakazura (玉鬘, Jewel Garland) Scene: The diving girl Tamatori grasping the sacred jewel and brandishing a dirk while being attacked by an octopus. In the background, there is a mirage of Hôrai, which is like Shangri-La and is the home of the Dragon King.
Series: Genji kumo ukiyoe awase
Publisher: Ise-ya Ichibei (via JAPAN PRINT GALLERY: Chapter 22)


Taira no Kiyomori’s Spectral Vision (1845), Hiroshige


Onna-bugeisha (女武芸者) 

A type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese upper classThey are sometimes mistakenly referred to as female samurai, although this is an oversimplification. Onna bugeisha were very important people in ancient Japan. Significant icons such as Empress JinguTomoe GozenNakano Takeko, and Hōjō Masako were all onna bugeisha who came to have a significant impact on Japan.

Nonetheless, for thousands of years, certain upper class Japanese women have learned martial skills and participated in fighting.

Between the 12th and 19th centuries, many women of the samurai class learned how to handle the sword and the naginata (a blade on a long staff) primarily to defend themselves and their homes. In the event that their castle was overrun by enemy warriors, the women were expected to fight to the end and die with honor, weapons in hand.

Some young women were such skilled fighters that they rode out to war beside the men, rather than sitting at home and waiting for war to come to them. 

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 Japan, 1946 (via)


In 1964, LIFE photographer Michael Rougier chronicled Japanese youth in rebellion, and came away with an intimate, unsettling portrait of a generation willfully hurtling toward oblivion.

(Photo: Michael Rougier—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Japanese models, 1956


Modestly attired Japanese women wade into water to bathe, October 1928.Photograph by Kiyoshi Sakamoto, National Geographic