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Matsuo Taseko

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Matsuo Taseko was a poet and kokugaku scholar.

Born the daughter of a well-off village headman in the Ina Valley in Shinano province, Matsuo Taseko received a good education as a child. She was married at age 18 to a man who later became village headman himself, and eventually had ten children, seven of whom survived into adulthood. She pursued poetry throughout her life, and also grew silkworms as a way of supplementing household income.

After passing on management of the household to her son & his wife, and retiring in 1861 at the age of 50, Taseko began studying the writings of Hirata Atsutane. Her husband and sons supported her financially and otherwise, and in her retirement she was able to travel fairly frequently, meeting with other scholars and poets. In 1862, he traveled on foot to Kyoto with just one attendant and remained there for six months, becoming rather involved in Imperial loyalist (anti-shogunate) circles. When authorities began a purge of Hirata followers in Kyoto the following year, however, she returned home, where she housed or otherwise aided other fugitive loyalists.

In 1869, she returned to Kyoto, where she reconnected with former rebels such as Iwakura Tomomi, for whom she then worked for a time. She died in 1894 and came to be celebrated among the many figures of the loyalist cause. She was granted posthumous court rank in 1903.

References

  • Marcia Yonemoto, The Problem of Women in Early Modern Japan, UC Press (2016), 215-216.
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