To me the figure captured in this hashioki personifies the style of Japan’s Taisho era (1912 – 1926), when the Emperor Meiji’s son Yoshihito ruled before his son Hirohito took over.
Politically it was a time of growing strength for Japan. They participated in WW1 on the side of the Allies, and were recognized as one of the Big Five powers at the Versailles peace conference. During this time Japan successfully exerted increasing power over China, Korea and Manchuria, and developed as an economic power by building their industrial base.
The Taisho period has also been described as the time “when modernity ruled Japan’s masses.” It also a time when many Japanese associated “modernity” with Westernization. Many women wore Western fashions instead of kimono, at least part of the time; some women bobbed their hair like Western flappers; and Western imports like jazz music and martini cocktails were all the rage. There was a great outpouring of literature, specifically Western-style novels by authors including Soseki, Kawabata and Tanizaki – some of my favorites — and many of these novels described the clash between traditional culture and modern mores. It was an exciting time.
The facial features and hairstyle of this figure are too indistinct for me to confidently say whether this is a man or a woman. What I do see is a person in some sort of flowing silk pajamas, stretched out in a languorous repose, with one ankle resting casually on their knee. I think this person has already had a martini. I think they are waiting for their second round while they listen to Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington in the background.
I’m not sure what a hashioki that Taisho style setter might use would look like, but I’m sure it would be elegant and stylish and – well, chic.