Following the Meiji Restoration (1868) and the new policies of modernization (kindaika) and Westernization (seiyōka), Japan began to import much more than material goods from the Western imperial powers. New concepts and ideologies soon made their way across the Pacific and freely entered the once “closed country.”   Riding this wave were Christian values and models of Western feminism, which in part were proselytized by the American teacher and temperance crusader Mary Greenleaf Clement Leavitt (1830-1912).

Title: “Inshu no Nariyuki.” Meiji Woodblock Print Leaves, Illustrated by Sasaki Toyoju.
Collection number SPEC.RARE.MMS.0127.
Counterclockwise: Angled view of the six prints, detail of a jovial tavern scene, drunken disorderly conduct from the main character confronting a Native American man, drunken disheveled main character robbing a man by the roadside

Inspired by Christian sermons about the destructive nature of alcohol,  Leavitt  helped found the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) in New York and Ohio in 1873.  Soon thereafter, her global crusade  led her as far as Japan and other countries including New Zealand, Burma, India, and Turkey, where female allies launched new chapters of the World WCTU.  Tired of the ill effects of alcohol on their domestic lives, women worldwide were drawn to the message of temperance and created an unprecedented transnational movement “for God, home and country.”

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