Professor Emerita, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, UNC Chapel Hill

Welcome to my blog

Solar Dolls. ”We bow with solar power.”

Welcome to my blog

Happy Girls’ Day!  Celebrated in Japan on March 3 with displays of dolls representing the ancient court,  Girls’ Day features special foods, too. Now there’s even a KitKat bar flavored like “strawberry daifuku” (mochi balls filled with strawberries), a Girls’ Day treat.


For my Girls’ Day celebration, I’m choosing to display solar-powered maiko dolls.  The dolls capture the playful spirit of maiko souvenirs. Solar dolls coax you to relax, smile, and show your childlike side. The perky solar maiko atop my desk reminds me to have fun with this blog.

Toy maiko solar

Solar maiko  also calls to mind the associations of “solar power” and feminism in Japan. In 1911 when Seitō (Bluestockings) burst on the scene, it’s rallying cry became, “In the beginning, woman was the sun.”

Manga artist Takenaka Ranko’s 1996 graphic history of the Bluestockings and leader Hiratsuka Raichō

Produced by young Japanese women in Tokyo, Seitō invited women to seek adventure and expand their boundaries, even as they advocated for education and equality.

My blog follows these twin trajectories, having fun while expanding knowledge. I begin with posts about maiko, Kyoto’s apprentice geisha. Researching my book Maiko Masquerade, I ran into lots of stories about maiko and geisha past and present, about art and objects, books and movies, people and places. I’m writing this blog to tell these stories, the comic and the serious, and share images. Let’s see where this solar-powered path goes.

I look forward to your comments. Happy Girls’ Day and thanks for visiting.
Jan Bardsley.

Jan Bardsley, “Welcome to my blog,” March 3, 2021

I designed this website and blog for educational and informational purposes only. I strive to  locate the names of the creators of texts and images cited, and properly acknowledge them.





  1. Inger S Brodey

    Hi Jan, Great blog! Those twin trajectories are characteristic of your teaching as a while and one of the things that make you such a great teacher, colleague, and mentor.
    I look forward to reading more!

  2. Rebecca

    Welcome to Blog World! I love the way you tied solar-powered maiko to Seito! Brilliant! I look forward to your next post.

  3. Chiaki

    Happy Girls’ Day to you, too, Dr. Bardsley.

    How wonderful it is that you started a new blog on the Girls’ Day. It so sunny and bright today. Solar Power!!! I look forward to reading your blog.

  4. Akiko Hirota

    What a great blog! I especially like the Chapter explanations and great class exercises you have posted for your Maiko Masquerade book. These will be very useful for teaching, but also for people who just want to enjoy your book on their own.
    Congratulations on both the publication of the book and the initiation of this blog.

  5. Haruka

    Hi Jan, 

    I enjoyed reading your blog! March 3 is an important day in Japan for mothers as well as their daughters. That’s because there is a legend that we have to put Hina-dolls away as soon as possible after the day to bring a good marriage for daughters…
    I’m anxiously awaiting your next post!

  6. Gavin James Campbell

    Delightful writing (as always)! I am so much looking forward to reading and learning more.

  7. Leslie Winston

    Hi Jan,
    I love your blog and look forward to the next installment.

    • Janice Bardsley

      Thank you, Leslie, and welcome. It was truly a delight to speak to your classes last month about maiko. I appreciated their comments and questions.

  8. Leslie Winston

    Hi Jan,

    I’m reading the short papers I had the students write in reaction to your lecture. It goes without saying that they all learned so much and appreciated you and your presentation. One boy wrote, “With this newly acquired knowledge on what a Maiko and Geiko truly are, I am now able to look at these famous pictures of Japanese women in makeup and flashy dresses and think more of them than just objects or someone who had been dressed to impress. These strong and brave women all have devoted their whole lives to becoming the best at what they do, and that is preserving traditional and ancient Japanese practices and ceremonies. In addition, these women are now able to work and live within a safe place, where they aren’t disrespected or taken advantage of by men.”
    You were the smash hit of my class!

    • Janice Bardsley

      Hi Leslie, It’s fun to read this comment and I’m glad your student had this positive takeaway. I really enjoyed zooming into your class and I’d be happy to do that anytime. Thanks very much for taking the time to share this comment. Jan

  9. Leslie Winston

    Hi again, Jan,
    Am I monopolizing your blog too much?
    I told my sister-in-law about your book in the form of my review, and she instantly ordered it. Wow! I didn’t know I was so persuasive.

    • Janice Bardsley

      Happy to have you aboard, Leslie! Thank you! I spent the summer working on a project related to Ariyoshi Sawako so had to pause the blog for awhile.
      I’m really looking forward to your classes later this month. Jan

  10. HJ

    “SOLAR” geishas in the land of the rising “SUN” – that surely gave me a smile 🙂

  11. amita rodman

    Hello my friend! We will be in Japan in MArch 2023 so, assuming Girls Day is per the Roman Calendar and not the lunar, we will be in Kyushu – Mount Aso. Hope you are well

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