THE BOX, October 1, 2022: IN TOKYO, AN EXHIBITION LOOKS AT THE LONG HISTORY OF CROSS-DRESSING IN JAPANESE CULTURE
The Shoto Museum of Art in Shibuya, one of Tokyo’s hip shopping-and-entertainment districts and a playground for young, fashion-conscious, trend-watching hipsters, is now presenting The Power of Clothing: History of Cross-Dressing in Japan, an exhibition examining a fascinating aspect of Japanese cultural history. It will remain on view through October 30, 2022.
As the exhibition makes clear through a superb selection of ancient painted scrolls, garments, photographs and printed matter, film clips, and costumes, there is a historical through line to be discerned — and even celebrated; kick up your platform geta or your stiletto heels — from the women who dressed up in armor and hit the battlefield during the samurai era through kabuki actors of the Edo period (even today, male performers play that classical theater’s female roles) and, more recently, the elegantly outrageous drag queens who are the stars of such long-running club-party nights as “Diamonds are Forever.” Regularly taking place in Kyoto, it was founded by the drag performer Simone Fukayuki, who is now regarded as a doyenne of Japan’s drag-entertainment scene.
Two rotations will take place during the run of the exhibition, meaning that some objects will be replaced with others as it enters its final phase. A well-illustrated, bilingual (Japanese and English) catalog has been published to accompany the exhibition. (Here is a link to the museum’s website page from which the book may be purchased; please note that it appears only in Japanese.)