Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context,
Issue 11, August 2005

A Forgotten 'Hero':
Kawahara Misako and Japan's Informal Imperialism in Mongolia during the Meiji Period

James Boyd

  1. Scholarship devoted to Japan's expansionist policies on the Chinese continent during the last part of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries has tended to ignore Japan's relationship with Mongolia. Much valuable work has been done on Manchuria: Gavan McCormack, for example, has examined the complex relationship between Japanese military and political leaders and Chang Tso-lin, the Manchurian warlord, while Louise Young has considered the cultural dimension of Japan's relationship with Manchuria in the wider context of Japan's pre-war empire, and Yoshihisa Tak Matsusaka has examined the role of the South Manchurian Railway Company and other agents in the development of Japan's nascent continental empire up to 1932.[1]
  2. Throughout this period, however, it is also true that much time and energy was expended by a range of Japanese organizations—the military, religious groups, the right wing, and business—to strengthen Japan's position in Mongolia. A few studies have considered Japan's relationship with Mongolia, but usually in the larger context of Sino-Soviet relations, as in Sow-Theng Leong's study of Sino-Soviet relations in the 1920s, or through the analysis of a particular aspect of Japanese-Mongolian relations, as in Narangoa Li's examination of the attempt by various Japanese groups to co-opt Mongolian Buddhism to further Japan's expansionist policies.[2] Scholarship on Japan's relationship with Mongolia, then, has so far tended to focus on broad themes, while less attention has been paid to the role of the individuals who actually constructed or participated in the relationship. A number of important studies have indeed examined the role of the individual in the formulation of Japan's continental policy, but they have focused primarily on prominent members of the various elites within Japanese society, and, accordingly, give us only a part of the story.[3] To date, research into Japan's continental policy in the period between the Meiji Restoration and the end of the Second World War has lacked any thorough examination of individuals outside the elites who nevertheless had an important influence on events.
  3. Many individuals in fact acted as intermediaries between the elites involved with Japan's overseas interests, or the institutions they represented, and larger segments of society. Even the military made good use of such intermediaries. The Imperial Japanese Navy, for example, employed civilians in connection with its attempts from the end of the nineteenth century onwards to establish both military and commercial outposts throughout the Pacific region. These efforts had a number of objectives, including territorial gains for the nascent Japanese empire, the development of the economic potential of what Japanese entrepreneurs viewed as a resource-rich region, and the acquisition of a possible repository for Japan's rapidly growing population. Civilians involved in this project included expansion-minded journalists, writers and intellectuals who accompanied the training cruises conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy and whose writings, on their return from such voyages, served to bring the region to a wider audience in Japan, attracting potential settlers.[4]
  4. In this paper, I examine the career of one individual who stood outside the Japanese elites, yet was influential at a critical point in relations between Japan and Mongolia in the early twentieth century, especially in relation to the activities of the Imperial Japanese Army, but also in other ways. Kawahara Misako (1875-1945) was by any measure a minor figure in Japan's relations with the outside world. Yet, her career illuminates the interplay of different Japanese interests operating in Mongolia in the late Meiji period and beyond, as well as illustrating some important underlying attitudes which helped to determine the nature of ongoing Japanese activities in the region.
  5. Kawahara was born in 1875, and trained as a teacher, working first in Japan and then in China, before accepting a teaching position in Mongolia in 1902. During her time in Mongolia, however, Kawahara not only worked as a teacher, but was also a spy for the Imperial Japanese Army. After her return to Japan, she wrote her memoirs, published under her married name, Ichinomiya. The book helped to promote a certain ideal of Mongolia that persisted well into the middle of the century. She died in 1945 at the age of seventy.
  6. Kawahara's case is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, Kawahara is important in that she was a woman and a teacher. Where the role of women has been considered in studies of Meiji expansion, the focus has most often been upon Japanese prostitutes.[5] However, it is clear from what we know about Kawahara's career, as well as that of others like her, that there is at least one other group of women, that is, teachers, who have been largely overlooked in studies of Japan's continental expansion during this period. For this reason alone, Kawahara is a good focus of study, as she provides a different perspective on women's role in the imperialist project. Teaching was in fact originally a male profession in Japan, the influx of women into the profession not occurring until around 1916.[6] Thus Kawahara was one of the pioneers among women teachers. Secondly, Kawahara's career points to the function of education itself as a means to strengthen the ties between Japan and Mongolia, an aspect of cultural exchange that has received comparatively little scholarly attention. As noted above, however, it was not only in the cultural realm that she was active. A third dimension of Kawahara's importance is the part she played in intelligence-gathering operations prior to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, using her position as a teacher in Mongolia to serve the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff's desire for accurate intelligence.[7] Finally, through her later activity, as a writer, she contributed to the introduction or consolidation of a romantic view of Mongolia among the Japanese reading public in the early part of the twentieth century.
  7. Kawahara in fact attracted a good deal of attention in Japan throughout her adult life, especially in the first decade of the twentieth century and again in the 1930s. The enduring publicity she attracted raises the question of why Kawahara's exploits have not received greater attention from historians. The most probable explanation is that Kawahara, while both a woman and a teacher, was also blatantly an agent of Japan's expansionist policies, and as such may have seemed an embarrassing figure in some circles after the Second World War. This is unfortunate, as an examination of Kawahara's career gives a good understanding of the relationship that existed between official organisations and 'unofficial' individuals during Japan's imperial phase, as well as the role that at least one woman played in this relationship.
  8. Kawahara's activities in Mongolia came at a particular point in relations between Japan and Mongolia—a period about which information is sketchy and in which a few prominent figures stand out. Japan's first modern encounters with Mongolia had occurred shortly after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, with one source suggesting that as early as 1873 Buddhist religious missions visited both Inner and Outer Mongolia.[8] A number of military intelligence-gathering operations were also undertaken in the late 1870s and early 1880s. These early contacts, however, would have been unknown to the vast majority of Japanese.
  9. Mongolia really entered the Japanese national consciousness in 1892-3, when a major in the Imperial Japanese Army undertook a dramatic lone horseback ride from Berlin to Vladivostok, that is, across Russia, via Mongolia and Manchuria.[9] Major, later General, Fukushima Yasumasa (1852-1919) apparently undertook the ride as a result of a personal wager. However, it is not hard to imagine the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff seeing his wager as a godsend, a chance to gather intelligence on Russia, a country that it regarded as a potential foe. Japan was already aware of Russia's expansion eastwards into the Siberian Far East, Mongolia and Manchuria, and the opportunity for a trained officer to traverse the breadth of Russia with his eyes open was not one to be missed.[10] The extensive reporting in the expanding Japanese press of Fukushima's adventure made him an overnight hero, as well as a symbol of a new ideal of the adventurous Japanese male, as Jason Karlin has pointed out.[11] In addition, however, Fukushima's ride also brought Mongolia to the attention of the Japanese reading population. Probably encouraged by the flood of stories in the press, would-be Japanese adventurers, including many former sōshi, the so-called 'patriotic adventurers' of the early Meiji period, journeyed to the continent, apparently aiming to 'define their manhood through imperialistic labours and idealistic dreams.'[12]
  10. Thus Mongolia became more familiar to Japanese readers. At the same time, Russian expansionism in Mongolia was leading to changes in the way in which Mongolian elites regarded the outside world, with some Mongolians, especially among the nobility, starting to look eastward, towards Japan, seeking protection from Russian ambition. One of these nobles was Prince Gungsangnorbü (Gung) (1871-1931), of the Kharachin Right Banner, that is, an administrative district in eastern Inner Mongolia. Prince Gung founded one of Mongolia's earliest modernised schools in 1902, and has been referred to as the pioneer of modern Mongol education.[13] The following year Prince Gung was invited, by Major-General Fukushima Yasumasa, who knew the prince as one of the progressive leaders of Inner Mongolia, to visit the Fifth Japanese Agriculture and Industry Exposition [daigokai naikoku kangyō hakurankai] in Osaka. Prince Gung, on his return to his banner, set about establishing a number of schools, including a military school, but also, perhaps influenced by what he had observed in Japan, a school for women. The prince then invited teaching staff from Japan to teach Japanese language, Japanese literature and other subjects. In addition to this, Prince Gung also arranged for selected Mongolian students to study in either Japan or Peking. Although it must be stressed that the number of Mongols who were sent to Japan in this period was very small,[14] it is noteworthy that, as will be seen later, the chance to study in Japan was open to both men and women.
  11. Prince Gung's school was the means by which Kawahara Misako first went to Mongolia. Kawahara had been born in Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture, as the eldest daughter of Kawahara Chū, a respected kagakusha or Chinese literature scholar, and his wife Shinako, who died while Kawahara was still a child. Matsumoto was also the birthplace of Fukushima Yasumasa, and the two families were acquainted.[15] Kawahara graduated from high school, and then went on to attend the Women's Higher Normal School in Tokyo, later known as Ochanomizu Women's College, although ill-health forced her to return home early. Despite this, Kawahara completed her studies and began teaching at Nagano Women's High School. It was while she was there that she met the noted Meiji educator Shimoda Utako (1854-1936),[16] whose influence on her was considerable. The extent to which Kawahara modelled herself on Shimoda apparently led to Kawahara being nicknamed 'little Shimoda' [koShimoda].[17]
  12. Shimoda herself is an important figure not only in regard to the history of education in Japan, but also in her promotion of Pan-Asian ideals. Her objective was to 'strengthen Asia' by extending education to all women while at the same time preserving the Confucian conception of female virtue.[18] Prasenjit Duara has called Shimoda the most significant single figure of the early twentieth century in East Asia in the development of orthodox role models for women, particularly in her insistence that women should be self-sacrificing and frugal. She was very influential in both official and unofficial circles concerned with educational reform for girls in China and Japan, and she worked closely with both Japanese and Chinese politicians during this period to create educational institutions that would instill in women what she regarded as East Asian values, including the practice of 'feminine virtues' and the desire to serve the nation by reorienting these virtues from focusing simply on petty politics towards patriotism of a national kind.[19] In many ways, Shimoda's views on education for women were actually not that different from those of other leading educational figures in Japan, but what is distinctive is her combination of these views with Pan-Asianism.
  13. It was on Shimoda's recommendation that Kawahara was employed from 1902 by the famed Wupen Women's College in Shanghai, as the lone female among the school's nine teachers. Shimoda probably recommended Kawahara because the two women shared not only broadly similar ideas about education in general, but also more specific ideas about education for women. Kawahara would remain in contact with Shimoda, in all likelihood for the rest of Shimoda's life. She would later ask Shimoda to pen a foreword for the book Kawahara wrote about her time in China and Mongolia, as well as entrusting to Shimoda the education of three young Mongol women who had been placed in her care.[20]
  14. In September 1902, Kawahara duly arrived in Shanghai to begin work as a teacher at Wupen Women's College. She remained there until November 1903, when she travelled to Peking, prior to taking up a new position as a teacher at the banner of Prince Gung in Mongolia, in one of his new schools for women. Kawahara's activities on the continent, even prior to her move to Inner Mongolia, were not unknown in Japan, with her work as a teacher receiving attention in the progressive weekly women's magazine Fujo shinbun [Women's and Girls' Newspaper], a periodical with a particular interest in women's education.[21]The paper ran a series of articles, between January 1903 and February 1904, entitled 'Mōko kikō' [An account of my travels in Mongolia], detailing Kawahara's adventures while travelling in Mongolia, as well as her experiences as a teacher at the Kharachin Right Banner. In May 1904 another article appeared entitled 'Zaigai no futari joshi' [Two teachers overseas], concerning the careers of Kawahara in Mongolia and Yasui Tetsu (1880-1945) in Siam.[22] There was another article shortly after this by Kawahara herself, in which she wrote specifically about teaching in Mongolia, giving details of the curriculum, the number of students, and so on.[23] The coverage of Kawahara's activities in Fujo shinbun, a magazine with impeccably respectable connections, indicates that she was considered to be a very suitable subject for an educated female reading public in Meiji Japan.
  15. By this time, the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff had become very concerned about Russia's economic and strategic interest in Mongolia, especially in view of the ever-increasing likelihood of war between Japan and Russia.[24] From now on, Kawahara was to be more than a teacher—she would work for the Imperial Japanese Army as well. Presumably she was already aware of this before accepting the position as teacher at the banner of Prince Gung in Mongolia. According to one source, her appointment in Mongolia had been engineered by Fukushima, now a member of the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff, as he wanted someone to gather intelligence about Russia's military and political intentions in the area around the Kharachin Right Banner, given its strategic position in Inner Mongolia.[25] The Kharachin Right Banner was an important strategic point on the road to Hailar and Tsitsihar (Qiqihar), and control of it could prove vital in the event of military operations between Japan and Russia. In fact, given the geographic position of Mongolia, both Japan and Russia were then seeking the friendship of Prince Gung. A further aspect of Kawahara's task was to cultivate the pro-Japanese group of Mongols in the region.[26]
  16. The official history of the right-wing Japanese association, the Kokuryūkai [Amur River/Black Dragon Society], has a different version of the circumstances of Kawahara's appointment as a spy. According to this source, the person who arranged her appointment was not Fukushima, but rather, the politician Sasaki Yasugorō (1872-1934), also known in Japanese political circles, most likely because of his visit to Mongolia in the early part of the twentieth century, as the 'king of Mongolia'. In the summer of 1903, Sasaki was said to have visited Prince Gung at the Kharachin Right Banner administration, where he received a direct request from the prince's wife to find a female Japanese teacher for the prince's children. Sasaki, no doubt eager to oblige, consulted the Japanese consul and the military attaché in Peking, who both agreed that this was an opportunity to place a female observer in a banner administration that was central to a region in which the Russians were active. The woman they selected was Kawahara.[27] The politician Sasaki himself would continue to be involved in Japanese-Mongolian relations in the years following the 1911 Chinese Revolution, while also serving as an independent member in the Diet.[28]
  17. After three weeks of preparation in Peking, Kawahara left for her new teaching assignment, arriving at the Kharachin Right Banner administration on 21 December 1903. One week later, on 28 December, together with the prince's consort, Kawahara presided over the opening of the Yuichan/Ikusei Women's College,[29] a school for approximately sixty young women, the majority aged between fourteen and seventeen, but with some students as young as seven or eight.[30] Having taken up her teaching position, Kawahara was now well placed to carry out the second part of her role, that of intelligence-gathering for future operations during the expected Russo-Japanese war.
  18. Kawahara herself appears to have fully recognised the danger that she placed herself in by providing the Japanese military with intelligence regarding Russian troop movements, writing in the diary that she kept while at the Kharachin Right Banner, 'In case of capture by the Russians, I am resolved to commit suicide with the pistol that I received from my father for self-protection when I left my country, and always have near me.'[31] This suggests that Kawahara's father had been aware of the dangers that his daughter might face on the continent, although one wonders if he knew in advance that she might be called upon by her country to be more than a teacher.
  19. On 10 February 1904, Japan launched its attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur, and military operations on land were soon underway. The Imperial Japanese Army General Staff was keenly aware of the need to maintain its strategic advantage in relation to the battlefront, and to deprive Russia of the opportunity to diminish this advantage. Special operations teams were thus dispatched to carry out a series of attacks against Russia's principal line of reinforcement, the Trans-Siberian Railway. A total of forty-six operatives were dispatched by the General Staff to gather intelligence, as well as to carry out acts of sabotage on railway and telegraph lines. At the end of February 1904, five of these operatives arrived at the Kharachin Right Banner administration, where they would remain for four days to receive intelligence about the region from Kawahara. To enable the special operations teams to penetrate Russian-occupied areas, the members were disguised as Mongolian lamas.[32] The fate of the special operations teams was mixed, with one pair being caught and executed by the Russians as they attempted to plant explosive charges in a tunnel.[33] While the overall operation failed to destroy any of the designated targets, it should not be judged a complete failure from the Japanese point of view, as the hunt by the Russians for the remaining teams would have tied down troops who could have been better utilized. In all probability, the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff would have considered the operation a partial success. It should be noted, to support this conjecture, that following the Russo-Japanese War, Kawahara would be decorated with the sixth grade of the Order of the Sacred Crown, an award bestowed only on women and considered to rank as equal to the Order of the Rising Sun, presumably for her role in these operations.[34]
  20. Kawahara remained at the Kharachin Right Banner administration for the remainder of 1904 and then, at the end of the year, accompanied Prince Gung and his retinue to Peking to deliver the traditional New Year's greeting to the emperor. It is unclear whether she returned to the Kharachin Right Banner administration immediately following this, but it seems likely, as it is known that at some point she arranged for the daughters of the chief retainer of that banner to study in Japan. When Kawahara eventually returned to Japan in January 1906, the three young Mongol women, whom she then entrusted to the care of Shimoda Utako, accompanied her.[35]
  21. Following her return to Japan, Fujo shinbun ran a number of pieces, either about Kawahara or written by her. The first of these, appearing in February 1906, was entitled 'Kawahara joshi o mukau' [Welcome to Miss Kawahara], while the second piece was entitled 'Mōko miyage' [Mongolian souvenir].[36] These were followed in April 1906 by a piece by Kawahara entitled 'Mōko kyōiku no gaikyō' [The general condition of education in Mongolia], which dealt with Kawahara's approach to teaching while in Mongolia. Finally, in July 1906, Fujo shinbun published two articles, one entitled 'In' [Retirement], and a second, far longer piece which ran for three consecutive issues, entitled 'Setchū ume' [Plums amid the snow], an extract from the diary that Kawahara had kept while she was in Mongolia, which told of her intelligence-gathering work for the military espionage team that had been sent to the region.[37] Publication of such an article in Fujo shinbun again suggests that Kawahara's military activities in Mongolia were not regarded as something to be hidden; and probably were not considered a failure in broad terms. Clearly, Kawahara was a role model to be admired, or at least someone whose activities were judged to be interesting and significant. At the same time, the focus on Kawahara inevitably brought an additional focus on Mongolia itself, and Japan's relationship with the region.
  22. Kawahara's memoir (using the same title as her article in Fujo shinbun), Mōko miyage [Mongolian souvenir], covering her time in both China proper and Mongolia, was published in 1909 under her married name, Ichinomiya Misako. Fukushima Yasumasa contributed a piece of calligraphy to the book, while Shimoda Utako wrote one of the three Forewords. The use of the word miyage, or souvenir, in the title should be noted for its romantic or nostalgic flavour. Even today, the word conjures up the idea of something special brought home to give to others or as a memory to treasure. The theme of romance was in fact a major aspect of the book as a whole, not just the title. Mongolia is portrayed overall as an alluring and mysterious place. Kawahara's introduction begins:

      The heart beats as the wind blows across the foreign sands, and the Mongolian moon looks down upon more than two thousand li of sorrow exhausted.[38]

  23. The romantic image was heightened by chapter titles such as 'Yume?' [A dream?] and 'Setchū ume' [Plums amid the snow]. Another romantic passage presaged the image of friendship and harmony between Japan and Mongolia that would be more consciously propagated during the 1930s. Kawahara's students are described gathered at a garden party, attended by Prince Gung, his consort and several hundred others, at which the students entertained the assembled guests by singing Japanese and Mongolian songs.[39]
  24. The first part of the book dealt with China proper. Interestingly, Kawahara's book followed others in distinguishing between Mongolia and the rest of China, using terms like Shina honto and Shina honbu to refer to China proper. For example, when talking about roads in Mongolia, Kawahara began, 'To reach Mongolia from China proper, ...'.[40] This distinction between Mongolia and the rest of China was similar to the discursive habit of separating Manchuria, or 'Manchuria-Mongolia,' from the rest of China. Both were important steps in the development in Japan of the idea that China and 'Manchuria-Mongolia,' or China, Manchuria and Mongolia, were actually separate countries, a notion that would come to have far greater importance in the 1930s. Kawahara then devoted two chapters to her time at the Kharachin Right Banner, with another specifically about the Yuichan Women's College where she had taught. Another chapter covered a wide range of topics related to Mongolia, including the weather, animal life, customs, education and Buddhism.
  25. Despite the deft romantic touches, which accompany the description of Kawahara's experiences in Mongolia, Kawahara the analytical intelligence operative is also very much in evidence in this book. The author provides much information as to Mongolia's geographical location, as well as a detailed list of the leagues and banners, that is, the administrative regions, of both Inner and Outer Mongolia. With respect to Mongolia's geographical location, for example, Kawahara was very precise, noting that:

      Excluding Tsinghai, Mongolia's northern boundary is the Altai Mountains and adjoins Russian Siberia, while the Great Wall, which marks the limits of China proper, marks the southern boundary. The basin of the Nunkiang River in Manchuria marks the eastern boundary, while the western boundary adjoins Kansu and Ili provinces. In area, Mongolia covers 248,040 square li[41] [approximately 3,830,952 square kilometres], but has a population density equivalent to that of the combined population of Tokyo and Osaka.[42]

  26. In this short passage, Kawahara captures for her reader both the vast size of Mongolia and its sparse population, a combination that would become a stock theme to be echoed by later Japanese visitors to Mongolia, including the celebrated poet Yosano Akiko, who would visit in 1928.[43] The information regarding the leagues and banners of Inner and Outer Mongolia then runs to three pages, including a complete list of the names of the banners within each of the leagues.[44] The inclusion of this highly specialised information is puzzling, given that it would seem to have little practical value for a general readership. It may have reflected a kind of pseudo-scientific approach, echoing the work of anthropologists including the famous Japanese anthropologist Torii Ryūzō (1870-1953), who travelled to the region on a number of occasions, the first time shortly after the Russo-Japanese War, and wrote extensively about his journeys.[45]
  27. Shortly after her return to Japan in 1906, Kawahara married Ichinomiya Reitarō, the assistant manager of the Yokohama Specie Bank's New York Branch, and accompanied her husband to New York, remaining there until 1921. She stayed, however, in the public eye in Japan, writing two articles for Fujo shinbun not long after arriving in New York about life in the United States, and following these with several others.[46] We know little about her life after her return to Japan, but what we do know indicates that, once again, she did not disappear entirely from the public eye. In the 1930s her earlier activities received renewed attention. In 1935, as part of the commemoration of the magazine's thirty-fifth anniversary, Fujo shinbun published a book about Kawahara's exploits during the Russo-Japanese War, written by Fukushima Sadako, the wife of Fukushima Shirō, editor of Fujo shinbun.[47]
  28. In her book, Fukushima Sadako linked Kawahara directly to Fukushima Yasumasa,[48]the officer famed for his lone horse-back ride across Siberia, entitling the first chapter of her book, 'Shiberiya tanki ōdan no Fukushima Taishō to shinyū Kawahara Chū (Kawahara Misako's father)' [General Fukushima, who crossed Siberia alone on horseback, and his intimate friend Kawahara Chū].[49] The reference to Kawahara's family connection to Fukushima Yasumasa, a national hero, suggests that Fukushima Sadako wanted her readers to regard Kawahara Misako's exploits in Mongolia as equally heroic. Fukushima Sadako later used the dramatic extract from Kawahara's diary quoted earlier, in which Kawahara vowed to take her own life if captured, thus reinforcing the impression that Kawahara was performing a heroic and dangerous mission in providing the Japanese military with intelligence regarding Russian troops movements.
  29. Fukushima's book may also have sought to influence the way in which Japanese readers viewed Mongolia. She mentions the garden party at which Kawahara's students sang Japanese and Mongolian songs for the assembled guests, but adds that it was on this occasion that Prince Gung, his consort and Kawahara took the opportunity to discuss the necessity of women's education with those present.[50] Fukushima seems to be suggesting that it was through the agency of Japan, and Prince Gung's recognition of its significance, that the subject of women's education gained importance. Fukushima's use of photographs may also have been intended to strengthen in the minds of her Japanese readers an impression of how alike the two races actually were. One photograph shows the garden party, an idyllic scene in which Mongolian men and women are seen talking. The protagonists are obviously alien, given the style of dress worn and the background. However, in contrast to this, a second photograph shows Kawahara, Prince Gung and his consort, and some of Kawahara's students, on the day of Kawahara's farewell. In this photograph all are in Mongolian dress, with only Kawahara's hairstyle distinguishing her from the others.[51] This second photograph is striking in that the clothes would have seemed alien, yet the people themselves so alike. It is tempting to speculate that the average Japanese on looking at the photograph would most likely have thought that the two ethnic groups were not all that different. Perhaps, then, they were destined to tread the same path.

    Figure 1. Yuichan Women's College garden party. Figure 2. Yuichan Women's College farewell party for Kawahara Misako.

  30. Aside from Fukushima Sadako's book, it is apparent that Kawahara's exploits had continued to attract the attention of others, and Kawahara's role in promoting interest in Mongolia seems not inconsiderable. The final chapter of Fukushima's book listed a number of books and magazine articles that had covered Kawahara's exploits.[52] The list included Komai Tokuzō's Dai-Manshūkoku kensetsu roku [A Record of the Building of Greater Manchukuo], an article by Ōshima Yokichi, a member of one of the 1904-5 'special operations teams,' who also published a book entitled Bakuhakō hishi [Explosive Secret History], and an eighteen-page pamphlet published in Harbin with the title Hokuman no Ochibana [Falling flowers of North Manchuria]. There was also a film of the same name.[53] Even the anthropologist Torii Ryūzō included in his 1936 memoirs of his early visits to Mongolia a reference to Kawahara and her role as a teacher at the Kharachin Right Banner.[54]
  31. From the degree of coverage that Fujo shinbun gave Kawahara's exploits, both at the time of the Russo-Japanese War and later, when commemorating its thirty-fifth anniversary, it is evident that the paper regarded her highly. Through its pages, the reading public was reminded of the Japanese activity in Mongolia. Evidently, the connection with Fujo shinbun was a close one. In her 1997 article on how Fujo shinbun viewed Asia, Nagahara Kazuko devotes six pages to Kawahara, as well as including a photograph of Kawahara at the beginning of the chapter.[55] As Sandra Wilson notes, throughout its existence, Fujo shinbun had a particular interest in women's education and often presented prominent women to its readers as role models, and we can assume that Kawahara fitted this role perfectly. Wilson further notes that the paper was very conscious of its own standing, and while it reached a readership of only around 7,000 at its peak, this included the imperial household, a fact of which the editor, Fukushima Shirō, the husband of Fukushima Sadako, Kawahara's biographer, would remind readers.[56] Thus, despite the paper's ostensibly pacifist objectives, it was not shy about lauding Kawahara, and presumably, as the paper was still devoting space to Kawahara and her earlier life in the 1930s, we can assume that her earlier activities were considered highly creditable. Kawahara's own book, Mōko miyage, was reprinted in 1943, shortly before her death in 1945, and then again in 1970 under the evocative title of Karachinōhi to watashi: Mongoru minzoku no kokoro ni ikita josei kyōshi [Queen Karachin and I: A female teacher living in the heart of the Mongolian people]. The title surely echoes the romantic tone of the 1956 movie The King and I.
  32. While Kawahara Misako was not one of the prime movers of Japan's Mongolian policy, she played an important part in the links between the two countries in the first part of the twentieth century on both the cultural and the military level. While the military operations for which she provided intelligence as a spy in 1904-5 were ultimately unsuccessful, her information must have been considered valuable, given that she was later decorated for her service, and that her contribution was still being acknowledged in 1935. Her more enduring legacy, however, was probably cultural rather than military. In all probability, Kawahara did help to strengthen ties between Japan and Mongolia through education, presumably also doing her part to spread Shimoda Utako's pan-Asian ideals. Fukushima Sadako, for example, mentions that when Moriyama Shirō[57] visited Inner Mongolia in 1934, he encountered former students of Kawahara's who spoke fondly of their time at Yuichan Women's College. Moriyama thought that their comments indicated the strength of Japanese-Mongolian friendship in the region.[58] In the longer run, Kawahara contributed to the development of enduring themes in Japanese attitudes to Mongolia: firstly the idea that Mongolia should be regarded as separate from China proper; secondly, that it was a vast, underpopulated region; and thirdly, that Mongolia was a romantic region worthy of the best endeavours of Japanese adventurers and pioneers. All three ideas provided important groundwork for later Japanese activities and ambitions in Mongolia.
  33. Kawahara's career also has wider implications for our understanding of the overall relationship between Japan and Mongolia in the late Meiji period. As noted earlier, relations between Japan and Mongolia have not attracted a great deal of scholarly attention. Where there is a general picture, however, it is probably of a predatory Japan taking every opportunity to expand its military control of the region. Kawahara's case provides much more nuance to this picture. The relationship between Japan and Mongolia was evidently not solely military, but also had a significant cultural dimension, as shown by the teaching activities of Kawahara and others. At the same time, however, there was no clear division between the cultural and the military: after all, Kawahara was both teacher and spy. The Japanese Army had its hand in everything, so that the cultural and military were not separate realms, and the distinction should not be exaggerated. Moreover, Kawahara's career also provides evidence that the connection between Japan and Mongolia was by no means one-way. The relationship may not have been equal—it was Japan that was the source of knowledge and aid, and members of the Mongolian elite went to Japan to learn and to acquire financial support. Nor, however, was it a case of Japanese action versus Mongolian passivity, as we can see from Prince Gung's approaches to Japan. Rather than a picture of Japanese imperialism acting upon a passive and powerless Mongolia, the cases of Kawahara and others point to a shifting, dynamic relationship very much influenced by larger historical events, and seeking to take advantage of new opportunities as well as meeting new challenges.[59]


    [1] Gavan McCormack, Chang Tso-Lin in Northeast China, 1911-1928: China, Japan and the Manchurian Idea, Folkstone, Kent: Wm Dawson and Sons Ltd, 1977; Louise Young, Japan's Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998; Yoshihisa Tak Matsusaka, The Making of Japanese Manchuria, 1904-1932, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Asia Center, 2001.

    [2] Sow-Theng Leong, Sino-Soviet Diplomatic Relations, 1917-926, Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1976; Narangoa Li, 'Japanese Imperialism and Mongolian Buddhism, 1932-1945,' Critical Asian Studies, vol. 35, no. 4, 2003, pp. 491-514.

    [3] For example Roger F. Hackett, Yamagata Aritomo in the Rise of Modern Japan, 1838-1922, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1971 and Stewart Lone, Army, Empire and Politics in Meiji Japan: The Three Careers of General Katsura Tarō, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000.

    [4] See, for example, Mark R. Peattie, Nan'yō: The Rise and Fall of the Japanese in Micronesia, 1885-1945, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1998, pp. 26-33 and J Charles Schencking, 'The Imperial Japanese Navy and the Constructed Consciousness of the South Sea Destiny,' in Modern Asian Studies, vol. 33, no. 4, October 1999, pp. 773-77.

    [5] For example, James Warren, Ah Ku and Karayuki-san: Prostitution in Singapore 1870-1940, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

    [6] Margit Nagy, 'Middle-Class Working Women During the Interwar Years,' in Gail Lee Bernstein (ed.), Recreating Japanese Women, 1600-1945, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991, pp. 199-216, p. 203.

    [7] Ōhama Tetsuya, Shomin no mita Nisshin Nichiro sensō: Teikoku e no ayumi [The Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars as seen by ordinary people: The march to empire], Tokyo: Tōsui shobō, 2003, pp. 115-16.

    [8] Kuzū Yoshihisa, Tō-A senkaku shishi kiden [Biographical notes on pioneer patriots of East Asia], vol. 1, Tokyo: Kokuryūkai shuppanbu, 1933, reprinted Tokyo: Ōzorasha, 1997, p. 502.

    [9] See Ōta Ayama (ed.), Fukushima shogun iseki [General Fukushima's posthumous achievements], Tō-A kyōkai, Tokyo, 1941, reprinted Tokyo: Ōzorasha, 1997; Shimanuki Shigeyoshi, Fukushima Yasumasa to tanki Shiberyiyaōdan jō to ge [Fukushima Yasumasa and his lone ride across Siberia, 2 vols], Hara shobō, Tokyo, 1979; Toyoda Jō, Fukushima Yasumasa Yūrashia tairiku tankiōdan [Fukushima Yasumasa's lone ride across the Eurasian continent], Kōdansha, Tokyo, 1993 for additional information concerning Fukushima.

    [10] James L. Huffman, Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1997, p. 183.

    [11] Jason G. Karlin, 'The Gender of Nationalism: Competing Masculinities in Meiji Japan,' in Journal of Japanese Studies, vol. 28, no. 1, 2002, pp. 41-77, pp. 70-71.

    [12] Karlin, 'The Gender of Nationalism,' p. 71.

    [13] Almaz Khan, 'Chinggis Khan: From Imperial Ancestor to Ethnic Hero,' in Steve Harrell (ed.), Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers, Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1995, pp. 248-277, pp. 260-61.

    [14] Nakami Tatsuo, 'Mongol Nationalism and Japan,' in Narangoa Li and Robert Cribb (eds), Imperial Japan and National Identities in Asia, 1895-1945, London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003, pp. 90-105, pp. 91-92.

    [15] Fukushima Sadako, Nichiro sensō hishichū no Kawahara Misako (Kawahara Misako, a part of the secret history of the Russo-Japanese War), Tokyo: Fujo shinbunsha, 1935, reprinted Tokyo: Ōzorasha, 1992, pp. 3-6.

    [16] Kawahara Misako, Karachinōhi to watashi: Mongoru minzoku no kokoro ni ikita josei kyōshi [Queen Karachin and I: A female teacher living in the heart of the Mongolian people], Tokyo: Fuyō shobō, 1970, pp. 298-99. On Shimoda Utako, see Chino Yōichi, Kindai Nihon fujin kyōikushi: taiseinai fujin dantai no keisei katei o chūshin ni [A history of women's education in modern Japan: Establishment women's organizations], Tokyo: Domesu shuppan, 1979 and Joan Judge, 'Talent, Virtue, and the Nation: Chinese Nationalisms and Female Subjectivities in the Early Twentieth Century,' American Historical Review, vol. 106, no. 3, June 2001, pp. 772-77.

    [17] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, p. 16; Judge, in 'Talent, Virtue, and the Nation,' p. 778, refers to Kawahara as Shimoda's disciple.

    [18] Prasenjit Duara, Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003, p. 134.

    [19] Duara, Sovereignty and Authenticity, pp. 134-35.

    [20] Ichinomiya Misako, Mōko miyage [Mongolian souvenir], Tokyo: Jitsugyō kono Nihonsha, 1909, pp. 1-3; Kawahara, Karachinōhi to watashi, pp. 280-81; Shimanuki, Fukushima Yasumasa to tanki Shiberiyaōdan, vol. 1, p. 277.

    [21] See Sandra Wilson, 'Women, the State and the Media in Japan in the Early 1930s: Fujo shinbun and the Manchurian Crisis,' in Japan Forum, vol. 7, no. 1, April 1995, Fujo shinbun.

    [22] See Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, vol. 8, Tokyo: Kodansha, 1983, s.v. 'Yasui Tetsu,' for additional information regarding Yasui's career.

    [23] Nagahara Kazuko, '"Fujo shinbun" ni miru Ajia kan' [Fujo shinbun's view of Asia], in 'Fujo shinbun' o yomukai (ed.), 'Fujo shinbun' to josei no kindai [Fujo shinbun and modern women], Fuji shuppan, Tokyo, 1997, pp. 97-122, pp. 105-06.

    [24] Kawahara, Karachinōhi to watashi, pp. 301-04.

    [25] Tamaru Nobuaki (ed.), Rekishi gunzō shirizu, no. 59: Gekitō Ryōjun, Hōten: Nichiro sensō rikugun 'senshō' no yōtei [Historical tableau series, no. 59: Fierce fighting; Port Arthur, Mukden; The Russo-Japanese War and the secret of the army's victory], Tokyo: Gakushū kenkyūsha, 1999, pp. 193, 199.

    [26] Kawahara, Karachinōhi to watashi, pp. 304-05; Ōhama, Shomin no mita Nisshin Nichiro sensō , pp. 115-16.

    [27] Kuzū, Tō-A senkaku, vol. 2, pp. 355-56.

    [28] See entry for 'Sasaki Yasugorō,' Asahi shinbunsha (ed.), Gendai Nihon: Asahi jinbutsu jiten, Tokyo: Asahi shinbunsha, 1990, p. 744 for additional information regarding Sasaki's career.

    [29] Note that while Kawahara gives the name of the Kharachin school as 'Yuichan' (Ichinomiya, Mōko miyage, p. 141), most other sources, including Fukushima Sadako's 1935 biography, give the name as 'Ikusei'.

    [30] Kawahara, Karachinōhi to watashi, pp. 304-05; Watanabe Ryūsaku, Bazoku: Nitchū sensō shi no sokumen [Mounted Bandits: An aspect of the history of the Sino-Japanese War], Tokyo: Chūō kōron, 1964, pp. 35-36.

    [31] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, pp. 158-59.

    [32] Ōhama, Shomin no mita, p. 116; Kawahara, Karachinōhi to watashi, p. 305; Kamisaka Fuyuko, Dansō no reijin: Kawashima Yoshiko den [Beauty in male attire: The story of Kawashima Yoshiko], Tokyo: Bungei shunjū, 1985, pp. 50-51; Kuzū, Tō-A senkaku, vol. 1, p. 765.

    [33] According to the biographical information provided by Fukushima about the pair who were executed, Yokogawa Shōzō and Oki Teisuke, Yokogawa had ties to both the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Foreign Ministry. In 1893 Yokogawa had been part of a naval expedition to the Kurile Islands, then later served as a journalist during the Sino-Japanese War. Following this, he had travelled to America to study, and on returning had worked for the Japanese Legation in Peking as an interpreter, before undertaking missions in Sichuan and Mongolia. Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, pp. 153-54.

    [34] Kawahara, Karachinōhi to watashi, pp. 305, 280-81; Ōhama, Shomin no mita, p. 120; James W Peterson, Orders and Medals of Japan and Associated States (Third Edition), San Ramon, California: Orders and Medals Society of America, 2000, pp. 28-33.

    [35] Kawahara, Karachinōhi to watashi, pp. 305, 280-81.

    [36] Chino Reiko, 'Kaisetsu' [Commentary], in Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, p. 4.

    [37] Nagahara, '"Fujo shinbun" ni miru Ajia kan', pp. 105-06, 108.

    [38] Ichinomiya, Mōko miyage, p. 1.

    [39] Ichinomiya, Mōko miyage, pp. 162-64.

    [40] Ichinomiya, Mōko miyage, pp. 228-29.

    [41] This is presumably Japanese li (1 l = 3.93kms) rather than Chinese li (1 li = 500m).

    [42] Ichinomiya, Mōko miyage, pp. 211-12.

    [43] Yosano Satoru and Yosano Akiko, Man-Mō yūki [Manchurian-Mongolian journey], Tokyo: Ōsaka yagō shoten, 1930, pp. 119-20.

    [44] Ichinomiya, Mōko miyage, pp. 223-26.

    [45] For example Torii Ryūzō, Mōko ryokō [Travels in Mongolia], Tokyo: Hakubunkan, 1911.

    [46] Chino, 'Kaisetsu,' in Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, p. 5.

    [47] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako.

    [48] Fukushima Sadako and Shirō were presumably not related by birth to Fukushima Yasumasa.

    [49] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, p. 3.

    [50] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, pp. 72-73.

    [51] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, see photographs between pp. 72-73.

    [52] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, pp. 191-216. However, Fukushima gives little or no information on date or place of publication.

    [53] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, pp. 196-204. However, Fukushima gives no indication if the film and the pamphlet were connected in anyway, nor any date of the release.

    [54] Torii Ryūzō, Man-Mō sonota no omoide [Recollections of Manchuria-Mongolia], Tokyo: Okakura shoō, 1936, p. 21.

    [55] Nagahara, '"Fujo shinbun" ni miru Ajia kan,' pp. 97, 103-06, 108-09.

    [56] Wilson, 'Women, the State and the Media in Japan in the Early 1930s,' pp. 89, 95.

    [57] Unfortunately, Fukushima gives no additional information regarding Moriyama Shirō. However, it seems likely that he was the same Moriyama Shirō who produced Man-Mō shōshihon kaigyō annai [A Guide to Opening a Small Business in Manchuria-Mongolia], published in 1932.

    [58] Fukushima, Kawahara Misako, pp. 207-10.

    [59] This paper forms one part of my ongoing doctoral research at Murdoch University into Japan's relationship with Mongolia in the modern period. I am indebted to Dr. J. Charles Schencking, whose comments on an earlier version greatly improved this paper.


This paper was originally published in Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, with the assistance of Murdoch University.

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