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The Evolution of the Concept of Ryōsai Kenbo in Morality Textbooks

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Chapter Summary

The content of morality textbooks used at girls’ middle schools was prescribed by the Teaching Curricula for Girls’ Middle School (Kōtō jogakkō kyōju yōmoku). The survey of some three decades of morality textbooks has shown that the image of the ideal woman portrayed in them underwent a major transformation after World War I. One aspect of this transformation was the promotion of work for women, which meant the revision, to some degree, of the traditional sexual division of labour. Another aspect of the transformation was the channeling of “maternity,” part of the “unique nature” of women, not only into childcare but also into serving society and the nation. Both of these phenomena helped bring about a change in the subsidiary position as a human being that ryōsai kenbo thought had assigned to women.

Keywords:girls’ middle schools; Kōtō jogakkō kyōju yōmoku; morality textbooks; ryōsai kenbo thought; World War I



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