Riding modern waves? Sea bathing for health in Meiji Japan Event as iCalendar

(History, School of Humanities)

09 March 2017


Venue: Pat Hanan Room, Arts 2 (207-501)

Dr Ellen Nakamura

During the Meiji period, Japanese doctors helped to redefine what it meant to go to the seaside and bathe in the sea; they became part of a transnational movement that saw the seaside transformed into a site for healthful leisurely pursuits. Western-style fashion was an important part of the attraction of sea bathing, and it is often therefore understood as a part of the elite-led modernizing culture of 'civilization and enlightenment'.

In this paper, I will argue for a complication of this view. Sea bathing provides an example of how traditional and modern met in the medical marketplace, where ideas about health were shaped not only by medical practitioners and their theories, but also by an interaction with traditional health practices, popular culture, and consumer behaviour.

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