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Travel Narratives: Cities, Factories and Rural Women in Modern Japan CHRISTINA GHANBARPOUR University of California, Irvine UCI History Project.

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Presentation on theme: "Travel Narratives: Cities, Factories and Rural Women in Modern Japan CHRISTINA GHANBARPOUR University of California, Irvine UCI History Project."— Presentation transcript:

1 Travel Narratives: Cities, Factories and Rural Women in Modern Japan CHRISTINA GHANBARPOUR University of California, Irvine UCI History Project

2 Ghanbarpour - Slide Students analyze the effects of the Industrial Revolution in England, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States. Examine how scientific and technological changes and new forms of energy brought about massive social, economic, and cultural change. Describe the growth of population, rural to urban migration, and growth of cities associated with the Industrial Revolution. Trace the evolution of work and labor, including the demise of the slave trade and the effects of immigration, mining and manufacturing, division of labor, and the union movement. Understand the connections among natural resources, entrepreneurship, labor, and capital in an industrial economy.

3 Ghanbarpour - Slide 3 The Textile Industry in Context Textiles were a key global industry, especially for late-developing countries Allowed the Japanese government to pay back foreign debts and create a favorable trade balance; without this, Japan would likely have been colonized By the late 19 th century: Textiles constituted 40% of Japan’s GNP and 60% of its foreign exchange By 1909: Japan was the world’s largest exporter of raw silk

4 Ghanbarpour - Slide 4 Japanese System of Dating Japan uses a different timeline from most Western countries. Up until the modern period, eras were defined by the location of the capital Edo (Tokugawa) period: From 1868 on, eras have been defined by the emperor’s reign Meiji period:

5 Ghanbarpour - Slide 5 The Fall of the Tokugawa Edo period ( ): Joint rule of the shogun (generalissimo) and the emperor The shogun handled all legal, political and military affairs; the emperor was the head of spiritual and cultural affairs Foreign policy: Restrict severely all trade with foreign countries 1853: Commodore Perry (U.S.) demanded that Japan open its doors to American trade Unequal treaties Revolt against the Tokugawa shogunate and rise of the Meiji state

6 Ghanbarpour - Slide 6 Industrialization in the Meiji Period ( ) Importation of Western technology and customs Silk-reeling was the main industry the Meiji government developed to help grow its economy The Meiji government provided funding, foreign experts, and machinery, and helped recruit factory workers The first modern factories were established with the support and close supervision of government officials, with Western experts and imported machinery

7 Ghanbarpour - Slide 7 Barriers to Industrialization A family’s head wife and daughters had traditionally made cloth; thus, young women were targeted as potential factory workers Though both women and men had often left home for various purposes, initially, no one wanted to send their daughters to the factories “Daughter-in-a-box” (hako-iri musume) Suspicions about foreign experts and “true purpose” of the factories Sending daughters out of the house to work associated with poverty “Foreign” environment

8 Ghanbarpour - Slide 8 Overcoming Barriers Meiji government officials and local entrepreneurs were forced to send own daughters to the factories The government promoted factory work by associating it with the national good This rhetoric particularly appealed to the wives and daughters of former samurai (shizoku) Many shizoku had fallen on hard times, having lost their hereditary source of income during the regime change Thus, the first workers came from shizoku and well-to-do farm families

9 Ghanbarpour - Slide 9 The First Factories Tomioka factory (f. 1872): One of the first, modern, silk-reeling factories; established as a “model” factory and training facility Though the government initially only wanted young women to work in the factories, families mostly sent older women The first wave of workers were highly motivated--started early, wore family crests These first female workers became experts themselves, later teaching the skills they had learned at factories around the country

10 Ghanbarpour - Slide 10 Working Conditions Working conditions in the 1870s and early 1880s included the following: Nine- to twelve-hour workdays with breaks for rest and exercise One day off per week, medical care, and balanced meals, including foreign cuisine Sewing and other classes taught by skilled teachers Working hours were limited by daylight hours; women woke up early and worked until sundown Factory work in this time period still required a knowledge of silk

11 Ghanbarpour - Slide 11 Changes in the Workplace Factory conditions quickly deteriorated due to economic retrenchment in the mid-1880s As factory owners came to rely more on stockholders for funding, they cut costs to bring in larger profits Employers significantly reduced the workers’ quality of life and wages, increased work hours, and recruited girls as young as eight years old As new technology and electricity were introduced, workers had to work faster and meet higher standards; the work day shifted to a twenty-four-hour cycle

12 Ghanbarpour - Slide 12 Mass Movements As conditions worsened, employers began to look to distant parts of Japan for workers Workers from distant areas of Japan were unfamiliar with a company’s reputation, unable to afford train or ship fare home, and lacked local supporters; thus, they were less likely to unite against management Unintended effects included urbanization, cultural exchange and integration, and the weakening of regional ties Factory workers could enjoy the urban pleasures of hot water and white rice As a result, many workers wound up settling in cities

13 Ghanbarpour - Slide 13 The Long Journey Home “I hurried to the factory and found my younger sister Shige was in bed and very pale. The people at the factory told me she would get well soon if she returned home and rested. But as soon as I saw Shige’s face I realized that her condition was serious…The railroad ran part of the way, but from the end of the line we walked home slowly, taking about ten days. When we came to the mountain passes, I carried her on my back. We finally arrived in Takayama. From there I hired a rickshaw and made it home.” - Reprinted in Mikiso Hane, Peasants, Rebels and Outcastes, p. 179

14 Ghanbarpour - Slide 14 Crossing Nomugi Pass “Nomugi Pass is where many factory girls fell down into the ravine. When someone slipped and fell down, we would untie our sashes, tie them together to make a rope, and lower it down to the person in the ravine…I can’t tell you how many girls died in that ravine…We used to tie ourselves to the girls ahead of us so as not to get left behind. Each step of the way we prayed for our lives.” - Reprinted in Mikiso Hane, Peasants, Rebels and Outcastes, p. 179

15 Lake Suwa (Suwa City) to Takayama: Approx. 72 mi (Google Maps)

16 Nomugi Pass today

17 Ghanbarpour - Slide 17 Life in the Factories Post-1883 Industry standards were infrequent payment; forced savings; pay deductions; long work hours and long contracts; and large, advance loan payments Crowded, dirty, lice-infested dormitories 3’ by 6’ area for sleeping, shared bedding, girls in one large, unheated room. Dormitories had high walls, barbed wire, and broken glass to prevent escape; girls were rarely let out. High rates of disease; endemic tuberculosis 1910: 33.9% of 13,000 women (4,407) had tuberculosis or a related illness Conditions did not improve until the Factory Law was put into effect in 1916; even then, the law failed to make a significant impact.

18 Ghanbarpour - Slide 18 Labor Movements The first strike in Japan occurred in a silk- reeling factory in Kôfu, Japan, in Female factory workers protested company policies, such as cuts in workers’ pay, increased hours, and reduced rest periods The factory workers reached a favorable agreement with management and returned to work a few days later Although the Kôfu workers were successful, almost all other strikes in Japan up to 1945 were unsuccessful A stronger union movement did not develop in Japan until after the end of World War II

19 Ghanbarpour - Slide 19 Comparisons and Conclusions Japanese factory workers tended to be young and worked long hours without safety or health regulations The first wave of Japanese workers were chosen because they were skilled, unlike later workers Although initially from well-to-do families, later workers were drawn from the poorest classes Although technology tends to improve people’s lives, the technology used in factories made workers’ lives worse. (What is the purpose of technology? How do market factors impact how technology is used?) New forms of transportation were available, but they did not go everywhere, nor were they affordable (How did technology evolve? Who benefits from technology? How did it impact people’s movements?)

20 Ghanbarpour - Slide 20 Lesson Ideas 1.Song Wars 2.Writing letters home 3.Timelines: Compare the rise of factories in France, the U.S., Japan, and England 4.Essays a. What impact did factories have on Japan’s economic, social and cultural development? b. Japan’s industrialization in the late nineteenth century is one of the reasons that Japan has the second-largest economy in the world today. Does this justify the factory workers’ exploitation? How might factories have met their goals and treated workers fairly?

21 Ghanbarpour - Slide 21 Song Wars COMPANY SONGS SONGS ABOUT HOME LOVE SONGS? FACTORY LIFE AND WORK SONGS ABOUT SOCIAL STATUS

22 Ghanbarpour - Slide 22 Resources *Bernstein, Gail Lee. “Women in the Silk-reeling Industry in Nineteenth-century Japan.” In Gail Lee Bernstein and Haruhiro Fukui, eds., Japan and the World. London: MacMillan, 1988, pp Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003 *Hane, Mikiso. Peasants, Rebels and Outcastes: The Underside of Modern Japan. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982 Molony, Barbara. “Activism Among Women in the Taishô Cotton Textile Industry.” In Gail Lee Bernstein, ed., Recreating Japanese Women, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991, pp *Tsurumi, E. Patricia. Factory Girls: Women in the Thread Mills of Meiji Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990

23 Ghanbarpour - Slide 23 Supplemental: The 1911 Factory Law Applied only to factories employing fifteen or more workers Minimum age of factory workers is twelve (though exceptions were allowed for ten- and eleven-year-olds) Twelve-hour maximum set for women and children under fifteen, but two-hour extensions were allowed exceptionally for the next fifteen years (until 1926) No night work allowed for women and minors, though exceptionally permitted for the next fifteen years Enforcement postponed for five years (until 1916)

24 Supplemental: Female Death Rates per 1,000 (1910) - Reprinted in E. Patricia Tsurumi, Factory Girls, p. 170 AgeDeath Rate (General) Death Rate (Factory Returnees) Under Over Ghanbarpour - 22


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