Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Feminism

Episode 267 – Do Not Give Up Your Life

This week, we cover poet and political activist Yosano Akiko in her drift from icon of the political left to polemicist for the ultranationalist right. What kind of life trajectory drives a person that way? Why did she follow that path? And why did she write so many poems about breasts?


Garon, Sheldon. Molding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life

Dollase, Hiromi Tsuchiya. “Awakening Female Sexuality in Yosano Akiko’s Midaregami.Simply Haiku: Autumn, 2005.

Rabson, Steve. “Yosano Akiko on War: To Give One’s Life or Not: A Question of Which War.” The Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese 25, No. 1., Special Issue: Yosano Akiko.

Larson, Phyllis Hyland. “Yosano Akiko and the Re-Creation of the Female Self: An Autogynography.” From the same edition of the above journal.


Yosano Akiko as a younger woman.

Yosano Tekkan in his prime. To be fair, he’s quite a looker, though I’m not sure he’s 400 poems-worth of good looking.

Yosano Akiko later in life.

Though one of Yosano Akiko’s missions was to push for women to not just be valued for motherhood, she herself was quite the mother — to 13 children!

Yosano Akiko and Yosano Tekkan together early in their marriage.

Though like so much else of old Tokyo, the Yosano home is no longer standing, there is a nice little monument on its former site.

Episode 193 – No Country for Young Women, Part 2

This week: what are three educated women to do in a society that doesn’t value their education?

Listen to the episode here.


Nimura, Janice. Daughters of the Samurai.

Furuki, Yoshiko. The White Plum, a Biography of Tsuda Ume.

Tsuda, Umeko and Yoshiko Furuki. The Attic Letters: Ume Tsuda’s Correspondence to her American Mother.

Some excellent biographical sketches of Ume, Shige and Sutematsu are available here.



Nagai Shige as a college student at Vassar.


Yamakawa Sutematsu as a student at Vassar.


Oyama Iwao and Sutematsu together. Initially a political marriage, by all accounts the union became a very happy one.


Tsuda Ume in her dorm room at Bryn Mawr. This makes me feel much better about how my dorm looked in college.

Oyama and Bacon1

Alice Bacon with Shige, Sutematsu, and Ume during her time working for the Joshi Gakushuin.


Anna Cope Hartshorne, Tsuda Ume’s closest friend and collaborator in building Tsuda College.


The modern campus of Tsuda College in Kodaira. The school’s tremendous success can be attributed in part to the amazing energy of its founder.

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