Hiratsuka Raichō

Activist Type
Women's Rights

Hiratsuka Raichō, a writer, activist, and pioneering feminist, was born Hiratsuka Haru on February 10th, 1886 in Tokyo, Japan. She became one of the first women educated in Japan at the new Japan Women’s University in 1903. Due to her upbringing and education, she was influenced greatly by both Western ideology and Zen Buddhism. After graduation, she entered the Narumi Women’s English School where she and five friends published Seitō, the first magazine in Japan “by women, for women.” Hiratsuka used the pen name “Raichō” after a bird, the snow grouse, to write feminist work. Her publications include spirituality, sexuality, and nonconformism – all being taboo subject matters at the time. In 1913, after clashing with both societal norms and the government, Seitō was banned in stores. The censorship and other scandals led to its demise after four years.

Hiratsuka viewed feminism as a route to achieve world peace. Her anti-war movements started with women’s liberation, a significant use of intersectional politics. After the changes that World War I brought, Hiratsuka assisted in founding the New Women’s Association in 1920. This group pioneered the overturning of a law that forbade women from joining political organizations or attending political meetings. Furthermore, the association was an integral part of Japan’s women’s suffrage movement. In 1953, she formed the Japan Federation of Women’s Organizations and became its first president. To further her anti-war activism and opposition to the rise of nuclear weapons, she then joined the Committee of Seven for World Peace.

Hiratsuka continued to help expand women’s movements and grassroots organizations, and she formed the New Japan Women’s Association in 1962. They later helped oppose the Vietnam War, bridging anti-war with feminism once again by establishing ties with Vietnamese women. Hiratsuka died of cancer on May 24, 1971, after a long life of journalism, activism, protest and creation. A documentary detailing her life was shown in 2001, a lasting account of her triumphs.

Artwork by
Hanjoon Kim

The illustration of Hiratsuka Raichō is inspired by Japanese art and portraiture. Historically, Japanese portraiture was influenced by China, but later developed into its own unique style. The Japanese drew portraits with black outlines and flat patterns, a distinctive visual choice that has been deeply rooted in their art history.


Japan Flag
February 11, 660 BC
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