The Weak Body of a Useless Woman: Matsuo Taseko and the Meiji Restoration

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 1998 - History - 412 pages
In 1862, fifty-one-year-old Matsuo Taseko left her old life behind by traveling to Kyoto, the old imperial capital. Peasant, poet, and local political activist, Taseko had come to Kyoto to support the nativist campaign to restore the Japanese emperor and expel Western "barbarians." Although she played a minor role in the events that led to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, her actions were nonetheless astonishing for a woman of her day. Honored as a hero even before her death, Taseko has since been adopted as a patron saint by rightist nationalists.

In telling Taseko's story, Anne Walthall gives us not just the first full biography in English of a peasant woman of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), but also fresh perspectives on the practices and intellectual concerns of rural entrepreneurs and their role in the Meiji Restoration. Writing about Taseko with a depth and complexity that has thus far been accorded only to men of that time, Walthall has uncovered a tale that will captivate anyone concerned with women's lives and with Japan's dramatic transition to modernity.

 

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Contents

The Making of a Poet
20
Tasekos Political Heritage
39
Married Life
59
The Farm Family Economy
82
The Nativist Encounter
101
Nativist Texts and the Female Reader
122
Autumn in Arashiyama
144
A Peasant Woman at the Emperors Court
166
On The Sidelines
226
Kyoto 1868
245
Famous Friends
262
Political Intrigues and Conflicting Visions
285
Taseko in Old Age
308
Remembering Taseko
330
Epilogue
350
Notes
356

Beheading Statues
184
Going Home
204

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Page xv - Studies of the Social Science Research Council and the American Council of Learned Societies with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation and the Japan-United States Friendship Commission.
Page 1 - What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head and is known to none but himself.
Page 15 - ... women have been deprived of the narratives, or the texts, plots, or examples, by which they might assume power over — take control of — their own lives.

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