Friday, September 21, 2018

Kusunose Kita - the “minken baasan”- pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement -

Kusunose Kita (1836-1920)
   Kusunose Kita was born in September 1836 in modern-day Kochi City. She married at the age of 21, however her husband died of an illness when she was 38 years old, and she remained single thereon after. They didn’t have or adopt any children, and so she looked after her home as the registered head of the household.

   When the new Meiji era began, heads of households who had paid taxes were given the right to vote for district assembly members, however this right was not extended to women. Not satisfied at being refused a vote, Kita decided to stop paying taxes. After three months of not paying she received a letter from the prefectural government demanding her payment. She replied “it is strange that despite paying taxes, I do not have the right to vote because I am a woman. Rights and responsibilities should work together, and so if I don’t have the right to vote then I won’t pay my taxes”. She submitted the letter to the prefectural government and requested a response.

Let’s hear from the head proprietress at Hamachou, one of Kochi’s traditional restaurants! What exactly is a “hachikin”?

Head Proprietess Kayo of
  After I began working as a proprietress, I started hearing “what is a hachikin?” from customers coming from outside of the prefecture. When I searched through write-ups, I found the word being described as a woman who only thinks about 80% of her actions before acting, and is able to handle four men at a time. This is where the “hachi” (meaning eight) of “hachikin” (literally meaning eight testicles) comes from. Kochi women will say what they feel whenever they want, without listening until the end. A hachikin acts fast, is strong, works hard, and is very clear on their likes and dislikes. This is also a reason for Kochi’s high divorce rate, says Head Proprietress Kayo. The women of Kochi will do their best for their men, but if they feel that it is not going to work out, they are also quick to take action - which means getting a divorce. However, they do not request for settlement money, and even if they do, it is a small, insignificant amount. It seems as if it works out to something like, “I will work and raise my children, so you too live a good life”. Although these characteristics of being forward-looking, strong, independent, and full of confidence are connected to divorce, it is said that just like how Japanese ladies are seen as well-mannered, this confidence that Kochi women have is naturally picked up from a young age.

Introducing some useful things during a disaster!

   I’m sure the July 2018 heavy rain disaster in Western Japan which killed over 200 people is still fresh in peoples’ minds. Here, we would like to introduce some useful tools to protect yourself with during natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.
1. Disaster information apps available in multiple languages
①Safety tips
An information app for use during disasters supervised by the Japan Tourism Agency, geared towards foreign travelers.
Languages: Japanese, English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean. It provides push notifications of Earthquake Early Warnings, Tsunami Warnings, Weather Warnings and Eruption Notices issued in Japan. In addition, there is an action flowchart showing evacuation actions to be taken in the light of surrounding circumstances and a communication card for obtaining information from the people around, along with useful links that provide information in times of disaster.