Bad Girls from Good Families: The Degenerate Meiji Schoolgirl

  • Melanie Czarnecki


Whether idly spending their free time in Hibiya Park,3 experimenting with the latest hairstyles of the day, gossiping about the cute schoolboys they met on the street, or seriously poking their noses in schoolbooks, “bad” girls from good families did not embody the ideal of Japanese womanhood that their “good” girl classmates epitomized. Following the promulgation of the Girls’ Higher School Order (Kōtō jogakkō rei) in 1899,4 a small number of society’s elite daughters found themselves newly situated within the liminal space of the girls’ higher school. For the first time, wealthy daughters from the provinces were relocating to the city and intermingling with the natives at Tokyo’s best higher schools. Many of these girls, away from the surveillance of family and servants for the first time, were able to form new communities comprised of both Tokyo residents and non-Tokyoites. Precisely due to its liminal characteristics, the fledgling system of the girl’s higher school inadvertently provided the girls with opportunities extending beyond the walls of the classroom. Consequently, the emerging schoolgirl culture made it possible for the girls to position themselves in public spaces that had previously been off limits. As will become evident, it was their negotiation of these new spaces that largely defined their status as “good” or “bad.”


Japanese Woman Good Family Magazine Article Woman Writer Bicycle Accident 
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© Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley 2005

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  • Melanie Czarnecki

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