The Shōjo in the Rōjo: Fumiko Enchi’s Representation of the Shōjo Who Refused to Grow up

  • Sohyun Chun
Part of the East Asian Popular Culture book series (EAPC)


Fumiko Enchi (1905–1986)’s story “The Old Woman Who Eats Flowers” (Hana kui uba, 1974) features a shockingly indulgent old woman (rōjo) who gleefully devours a cactus’s crimson blossoms. As a reflection on the patriarchal prescriptions for women in the Taishō and early Shōwa periods, this story of a flower-hungry old woman exposes the suppression and denial that accompanied the aging narrator’s girlhood. This chapter treats the old woman’s ability to identify and reinvigorate the shōjo within her aged body as an expression of unfulfilled desire, love, and passion. Through the rōjo who internalizes the shōjo, Enchi reimagines the function of shōjo culture as practiced by aging women who seek empowerment against oppressive norms that force women into certain constructed images of proper female bodies.



This article was supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship provided by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. It was revised based on a chapter, “Floral Lust: Eccentric Crones in Enchi Fumiko’s Fiction” from my dissertation, “Blowing Away Convention: Enchi Fumiko, Tanabe Seiko and Aging Women in Modern Japanese Literature,” Washington University in St. Louis, August 2016.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sohyun Chun
    • 1
  1. 1.International Education and Exchange CenterNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan

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