Organized Panel Session
In the 1930s, nihonga (neo-traditional Japanese paintings) of women skiing grew in number and popularity in Japan. Featuring ladies outfitted in loose fitting winter gear with icy facial expressions and exuding a sense of physical fitness and emotional austerity, these images, exhibited at the government sponsored salon, inform the viewer of the state’s interest in women’s bodies, as well as the cultural interest in leisure and sport. The images are a departure from the typical woman in nihonga; they are active, modern, not expressly feminine in appearance, and they are participating in a physically taxing sport. Through an examination of paintings by Enomoto Chikatoshi, Matsushima Hakko, and Kikuchi Kashu, as well as travel posters, advertisements, photographs, and postcards, this paper takes an interdisciplinary approach to exploring why winter sports became a popular subject for moga (modern girls) in 1930s nihonga. By considering the significance of the emerging ski industry, which transformed rural areas and agrarian communities into sites of leisure and tourism, as well as the broad cultural impact of the unrealized 1940 Sapporo Winter Olympic Games, this paper investigates how this group of images of women engaged in winter sports reflected both the government interest in physical fitness and the gendered body politics of the imperial age.