Sexes: Women: A Separate Sphere

Deference to tradition, dreams of the future

It is hard to avoid mentioning Madame Butterfly. Rustling compliantly in her kimono chrysalis, she forever set the Western image of the Japanese woman. Poor Butterfly first appeared on the stage of Milan's La Scala in 1904, decades after Western ideas about women's rights had reached Japan. In 1947 the American-dictated revision of the Japanese constitution and legal codes gave women the right to vote and explicitly forbade sex discrimination. But the idea of equality is a long time being assimilated into practice.

Today's Japanese women—urbanized, educated,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!