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Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan
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Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  97 ratings  ·  10 reviews
In this book, for the first time, we can hear the startling, moving voices of adventurous and rebellious Japanese women as they eloquently challenged the social repression of prewar Japan. The extraordinary women whose memoirs, recollections, and essays are presented here constitute a strong current in the history of modern Japanese life from the 1880s to the outbreak of t ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published October 6th 1993 by University of California Press (first published 1988)
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Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
As it happens, only one of these pieces, the one that inspired the title, was composed on the way to the gallows, but they are nonetheless heartbreaking. This is the largely untold story of Japanese women demonstrating and organizing for workers' rights in the early part of the last century, including the rise of the ultra-nationalists. These women are forthright and refreshingly opinionated, most of them rose from deep poverty, of both the rural and the urban varieties. They were variously inte ...more
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan
I'm only half through with the book and it's knocking my socks off. Page 122 Chapter 4: Fumiko Kaneko : The Road to Nihilism. In her death row interview. What is your opinion concerning the Japanese state and social system? Paraphrasing, her answer. I divide the Japanese state-social system into three levels: The first class is the royal-clan members. The second class is the government ministers and other wielders of political power. The third class in the masses in general. The royal clan lives ...more
"During that time, we were all under the impression that we would get promoted if we killed some socialists. I almost got myself in trouble."

-A would be assassin of Yamakawa Kikue, realist social critic, communist, and women's rights advocate
Disclaimer: if my writing seems somewhat wired in this review, I just got an especially sugary boba drink after a participating in a rather exacting interview. So, there you have it.

This is the kind of book that, when I look at it, I can't imagine anyone
Chelsea Szendi
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
Important primary materials on women figures who often get dropped from social, cultural, and intellectual histories of modern Japan. In a discipline where Kotoku Shusui remains the name invoked in narratives on the Great Treason Incident (while Kanno Suga' testimony is where the meat is), this is a necessary work. Now, if only we could construct a history of radical critique in Japan that synthesizes men and women. After all, many were intimate (oh yes, very intimate) comrades at the time.

Bill Johnston
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: japan
Every book needs a dissenting opinion. While I am glad I read this book, I think its shortcomings overshadow its strengths.

Hane's introductions and summaries of the lives of the women featured in this book are the best parts, because they are concise. The tedious parts are reading the diaries themselves; the gems in them few and far between. I think Hane should have selected more women to cover, written more bios, and more aggressively edited their diaries.

Kylee Ehmann
These were interesting and important primary sources, but unfortunately I had a hard time maintaining interest. I’d get into one woman’s story and then it would be done and gone. I would say it’s a good starting point and the translation is really good, but is strongly recommend reading the memoirs of each woman themselves if you have time.
Enrique Mora Roás
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Un libro necesario que comete algún error conceptual.

Hane está obsesionado con el matriarcado e introduce el libro así. También, como bien dice Helene Raddeker, asumir como verdaderas las palabras de señores relacionados con las autoras es engañoso en el caso de Kanno Sugako.

Con todo, las traducciones son geniales, son necesarias y son de una profundidad y variedad que admiro mucho. Más sabiendo que este libro tiene décadas encima.
Daniel Burton-Rose
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
Rich use of primary sources to allow the voices of early twentieth century anarchist and social martyrs to be heard again.
Jul 26, 2012 added it
Leah Smith
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A rare look into the socialist movement in Japan in the early twentieth century and the women who went o prison or even gave their lives for their beliefs.
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  Mateo Askaripour is a Brooklyn-based writer whose bestselling debut novel, Black Buck, was published in January. It's been a Read with Jenna...
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“As for the significance of my nihilism…in a word, it is the foundation of my thoughts. The goal of my activities is the destruction of all living things. I feel boundless anger against parental authority, which crushed me under the high-sounding name of parental love, and against state and social authority, which abused me in the name of universal love.
Having observed the social reality that all living things on earth are incessantly engaged in a struggle for survival, that they kill each other to survive, I concluded that if there is an absolute, universal low on earth, it is the reality that the strong eat the weak. This, I believe, is the law and truth of the universe. Now that I have seen the truth about the struggle for survival and the fact that the strong win and the weak lose, I cannot join the ranks of the idealists and adopt an optimistic mode of thinking which dreams of the construction of a society that is without authority and control. As long as all living things do not disappear from the earth, the power relations based on this principle [of the strong crushing the weak] will persist. Because the wielders of power continue to defend their authority in the usual manner and oppress the weak—and because my past existence has been a story of oppression by all sources of authority—I decided to deny the rights of all authority, rebel against them, and stake not only my own life but that of all humanity in this endeavor.
For this reason I planned eventually to throw a bomb and accept the termination of my life. I did not care whether this act would touch off a revolution or not. I am perfectly content to satisfy my own desires. I do not wish to help create a new society based on a new authority in a different form.”
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