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Matsuo Taseko and the Meiji Restoration Essay

The Tokugawa period of Japanese history was a time of rigid class
stratification. The Weak Body of a Useless Woman: Matsuo Taseko and the
Meiji Restoration by Anne Walthall deals with the transformation from the
age of the samurai to the modern; from the Shogunate to Empirical rule and
the beginning transition from an agrarian to technological society.This
book is about change, specifically, social and political change, but. also,
about changes that occurred within the life of an individual, a woman and a
Matsuo Taseko was born into the peasant class.Her family were
farmers living and working in the Ina Valley in what is now the Nagano
Province.The samurai system was based on a feudal and agrarian society
where the workers paidhomage’ or taxes to the local ruling samurai.
Taseko was the daughter of the local headman, which brought responsibility
as well as greater contact with others, including political leaders.It
also made her part of therural elite’, a part of the local political
structure.Her family were involved in an extensive system of rural
entrepenurism, or self-employment, that bridged the agricultural and
merchant classes.They were involved in making and selling sake and were
known to be the local moneylenders.She learned to read and write, an
honor generally denied the peasant.She wrote poetry that reflected both
her education and her political inclinations.She was trained in classical
poetic form, allowing her a place among the intellectuals of the time.She
was a devout subject of the Emperor.Taseko remained within the rural
elite by marrying a headman of another village.She birthed ten children,
although three died in infancy.She joined the ranks of entrepreneurs by
cultivating silkworms, becoming wealthy according to the limits of class
and opportunity.Her marriage was typical of social expectations and she

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