Stranger in the Shogun's City: A Japanese Woman and Her Worlds,1821-1862

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project focuses on the remarkable life of a woman named Tsuneno to explore gender, work, and urban migration in early nineteenth-century Japan. Tsuneno ran away from her provincial hometown after her two first marriages failed. She settled in the shogun's capital of Edo, where she worked a series of odd jobs, rented a back alley tenement, married (then divorced and remarried) a masterless samurai, and ended up in the service of a famous city magistrate. This microhistory uses Tsuneno's extensive correspondence to illuminate the social history of Edo on the eve of Japan's modern revolution. It offers a new perspective on Japanese women's economic lives by examining work in the lower echelons of the burgeoning service sector, where labor was only loosely tethered to the patriarchal household. As one of the first studies to consider women's labor migration - a common early modern phenomenon -- in an East Asian context, it also contributes to scholarship on global early modernity.
Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/16


  • National Endowment for the Humanities (FA-58189-15)


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