Arts & Entertainment

Exhibition explores long history, power of cross-dressing in Japan

Tokyo, Oct 26 (EFE).- Cross-dressing has been part of Japanese history for centuries and now an exhibition in Tokyo explores the meaning of masculinity and femininity and the overcoming of gender barriers through clothing.

Despite its recent popularity, the first references to cross-dressing – the inclination to dress in clothes of the opposite sex – date back in Japan to the 8th century, with the frequent presence of drag queens in books of legends and myths of the archipelago.

This is the premise of an exhibition that can be visited at the Tokyo Shoto Museum, which analyzes the evolution of this practice since ancient times and the power of clothing as a reflection of identity.

“I think there is a positive aspect in the act of dressing that makes anyone, whether young or old, man or woman, and regardless of their interest, feel free and live as they wish,” Miyako Nishi. the exhibition’s curator, said in an interview with EFE.

Classic kimonos worn by men, schoolgirl outfits with masculine shoulder pads or ‘drag queen’ outfits – artists who wear women’s clothing, such as wigs or platform shoes – are some of the objects that can be seen in the exhibition.

For Nishi, this exhibition is an opportunity to value “the strength of dressing” and, as he explains, it is a subject little discussed in the country, since its antiquity and roots in Japanese culture “are unknown by many.”

“Dressing has two opposite forces: one is to lock people in a cage and label them based on previous rules, for example, whether or not they are worthy of being a man or a woman, while the other is to free themselves from this cage,” the curator said.

She said the reception has been very positive from the Japanese public, with some transgender people saying they were “very happy” to see such an exhibition in a public museum in Japan.

Currently, cross-dressing has gained notoriety in Japan in the world of entertainment, television, Japanese contemporary butoh dance, or anime and manga, although it is still relegated to predominantly homosexual environments.

“I hope that this exhibition will serve everyone, people who dress in another gender and those who don’t,” said the curator, who added that “it is important to know the path traveled to think about the future”.

The exhibition can be visited in the Japanese capital at the Shoto Art Museum until Oct. 30. EFE


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