Nationalizing Madame Butterfly

Daisuke Miyao

in The Oxford Handbook of Japanese Cinema

Published in print January 2014 | ISBN: 9780199731664
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Nationalizing Madame Butterfly


This chapter examines how female stars emerged in Japanese cinema. In Japan, female motion picture actors did not exist until arguably as late as 1918. The majority of female characters in motion pictures had been played by onnagata, female impersonators. In conjunction with the Japanese reception of the star image of Aoki Tsuruko, a female Japanese star in early Hollywood, and that of film production technologies that created her stardom, this chapter examines how female stars emerged in Japanese cinema. Female stars were born in Japan as a result of a tension-ridden process of translation of stardom in Hollywood and Aoki's embodiment of Madame Butterfly.

Keywords: Stardom; authenticity; femininity; nationalism; Madame Butterfly; Tsuru Aoki; Kurishima Sumiko; lighting; onnagata

Article.  9016 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Film

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