“Happy Farmwives and Bright Life”: Ie no hikari and the Reshaping of Women’s Lives in the Countryside in Postwar Japan from 1945 to 1950

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2025-06-06

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2024

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This paper seeks to contribute to the study of early postwar Japanese women’s history by focusing on rural women, a group that has received relatively less attention in recent scholarship. It aims to understand the changes in the lives and worldviews of Japanese farm women from 1945 to 1950 as shaped by the ambitious initiatives of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), the Japanese government, and the local reception and internalization of new ideologies. Through the lens of women-and-lifestyle-related content in Ie no hikari 家の光 (Light of the Home), the most influential rural family magazine in prewar and postwar Japan, this paper intends to explore how the magazine tailored official campaigns to the rural context with the help of local activists and farm women themselves, leaving both tangible and intangible impacts on the daily lives of women and their families. It also investigates the various ways in which local women responded to and interacted with the official new life campaigns that promised them concrete improvements in material lives and social status. As the magazine served as a middle ground where top-down initiatives intersected with local efforts to internalize official languages in the late 1940s, it also provides access to the local voices of farm women at the time. These precious voices, however limited, allow us to better situate rural women within the tabulating social milieu of early postwar Japan and to delve deeper into their daily lives.

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Chen, Lingyi (2024). “Happy Farmwives and Bright Life”: Ie no hikari and the Reshaping of Women’s Lives in the Countryside in Postwar Japan from 1945 to 1950. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/31089.

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