During the Taisho era (1912-1926) and the preceding Meiji era (1868-1912), Japan confronted rapid Westernization while traditional Japanese ideals were being challenged and altered for the changing times.
A product of the times was Taisho-era writer Akutagawa Ryūnosuke (1892-1927) whose epitomic works include “Rashōmon” (1915) and “In a Grove” (1922), which later became the basis of Director Akira Kurosawa’s film “Rashomon” (1950). Akutagawa strongly believed in the universality of literature, bridging both Western and Japanese cultures. A perfect employment of Akutagawa’s school of thought can be seen in this 1919 photograph of himself and his contemporary, writer Kikuchi Kan.
In the photograph the two gentlemen (Kikuchi far left, Akutagawa center) are wearing three-piece suits, detachable collar and tie, in addition to the traditional Japanese tabi (socks) and zori (traditional footwear). — PETER E. LAVELLE