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Feminism in Japanese Pop Culture


Japanese pop culture has been in the American zeitgeist as early as the 1970s. Many staples of peoples’ childhoods have come from Japan. Media like Sailor Moon, Studio Ghibli animation, and Pokemon have had an immense impact on American culture. How has this media impacted Japanese culture? Why was it created and how has it reflected women's roles within Japan? In this library guide, we wanted to show female empowerment and feminism in different forms of Japanese pop culture, from fashion to music to manga. Japanese pop culture is heavily consumed by an American audience. In this lib guide, we hope to show female empowerment in Japanese music, film, anime and manga, literature and kawaii culture.


It can often be difficult to establish a timeframe when certain feminists movements were happening throughout the world and what media was being created at the time. We hope this timeline helps put in perspective what was being created in Japan and when it reached America. 

1883: Higuchi Ichiyo began publishing her writings to make ends meet, making her one of Japan's first published women writers. 

1920s: Women's suffrage movement began in Japan

1946: Japanese women were granted the right to vote

1953: Princess Knight (manga) is released- magical girl prototype

1962 Himitsu no Akko-chan earliest magic girl manga 

1969:  Magnificent 24-year group, a group of women who revolutionized shojo manga, was formed. 

1970: Kawaii culture starts to emerge in Japan

The late 1970s: Otome-Kei fashion movement

1974: Hello Kitty was created

1985: Studio Ghibli was formed by Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki, Isao Takahata, Yasuyoshi Tokuma

1987: Ryuko Tsushin Magazine is the first publication mentions Lolita fashion

1991- Sailor Moon starts being published in a monthly manga magazine.

1997- Sailor Moon manga published in America 

1997: First issue of FRUiTS

1998: First issue of KERA

1999: Birth control pills was legalized in Japan 

2001: First issue of Gothic Lolita Bible

2009: Misako Aoki, Yu Kimura, and Shizuka Fujioka appointed Kawaa Taishi (ambassadors of Cuteness)