Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the Meiji period: the skills and beauty that adorned the Meiji court.
After 1868, when Japan emerged from centuries of seclusion to begin joining the ranks of the Western powers, the court of the Meiji emperor became the new “face” of the country—a showpiece combining Japanese tradition with Western progress. This book tells the story of that fusion through 350 items, including some never before shown to the public, from the collections of the imperial court and former noble and princely families: Emperor Meiji’s favorite artworks, dresses worn by Empress Shoken and other ladies, exquisite furnishings, and the dainty bonbonnières (sweets containers) given as gifts, a now-famed custom that began with the Meiji court.
A special feature of the book is an essay by Princess Akiko of Mikasa that traces the evolution of court attire, from the introduction of Western dress through the difficult war years and afterward, while drawing on the reminiscences of her ninety-three-year-old grandmother, Her Imperial Highness Princess Mikasa—who, as the imperial family’s now most senior member, was a living witness to many of the changes that attended imperial culture over a century and a half of Japan’s modern history.
Section 1: The Prehistory of the Meiji Court
Section 2: The First Stirrings of the Meiji Court
Section 3: The Meiji Palace and the Age of the Rokumeikan
Section 4: Technique and Aesthetic in the Adornments of the Meiji Court
Section 5: The End of Meiji and the Dawn of the Taisho Era