Intelligence for women

Here is the chapter on "intelligence" (智能) in the Treasury of women's morality (女徳寶鑑), written by ASAKA Gorō (安積五郎) and TANAKA Tōsuke (田中登作) and published in 1894.

The Imperial Rescript [on Education] directs us to "cultivate [our] intelligence" (智能ヲ啓發シ), and so you must be sure to begin polishing your wits at an early age. Otherwise, you would be unable to tell good from bad or right from wrong, which would make you unable to think of a way to help your parents if some calamity befell them; unable to protect your husband if he were in danger; put bluntly, you would be like a worthless puppet, a very fool. Never let the guidance of the Imperial Rescript slip from your mind.

The Wife of Yamana Toyokuni

YAMANA Toyokuni (山名豊國), Buddhist name Zenkō (禪高), had a wife whose name is no longer known. One night, several dozen bandits invaded their residence. No-one else being home at the time, Toyokuni seized a spear and stood against them himself. His wife gathered up an armful of kosode and, concealing herself behind a door, threw them and threw them at the swords of the bandits.

The bandits were vexed to find their blades entangled in the kosode, and Toyokuni seized the opportunity to attack. After he had struck down a few of the intruders, the rest scattered and fled.

The Wife of Takahashi Sakuzaemon

The man known as TAKAHASHI Sakuzaemon (高橋作左衛門) was originally a low-ranking official (同心) in Osaka, but his talent for astronomy eventually saw him promoted to the post of astronomer to the Edo Shogunate, where he excelled.

While he was still in Osaka, his residence had a garden in which there was a large oak tree. Because people in his neighborhood would sneak in by night and steal the acorns, Sakuzaemon would keep watch all night and not sleep a wink.

One day, Sakuzaemon's wife, after observing that her husband was not at home, cut the tree down from the root. When Sakuzaemon returned home and saw this, he was shocked and alarmed.


"What is the meaning of this?" Sakuzaemon asked.

"I had the tree cut down," his wife said calmly.

"How could you do such a thing?!" he demanded.

"I am certain that you will revive the fortunes of this family through astronomy," she replied. "I have foreseen it. How unfortunate, then, how wasteful, that you should be distracted for the sake of that tree when you are already busy every night climbing onto the roof and observing the sky until dawn. When I realized that if the tree were gone you could devote yourself fully to astronomy, I took the necessary measures."

O knowledge-seeker, study, watch and study is the rule;
Who speaks of good and bad without such study is a fool!


—Anthology of Everyday Self-Discipline (日用心法鈔)

Toyokuni's wife's quick thinking is all the more impressive for the fact that it predated the Home Alone series by centuries. Sakuzaemon's wife loses style points for starting with the brute-force solution, unless we reframe it as a story about her thinking of a good excuse to get rid of that damn tree.

That final poem is one of KOBORI Enshū's (Sen no Rikyū's* variant is 習ひつつ、見てこそ習え、習はずに、よしあしいふは、愚かなりけり).

* I love the final paragraph about Rikyū and Hideyoshi at the bottom of that link above: "When TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi, the supreme ruler at that time, visited Rikyu, it is said that Rikyu clipped and threw away all the rare morning glory flowers he had except one, and used it as decoration to welcome and entertain Hideyoshi. However the tense atmosphere created by the tea ceremony turned into a more serious tension as relations between the two men became strained. Eventually Hideyoshi ordered Rikyu to commit seppuku (disembowelment), a death penalty." Tough crowd. (Back)

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Accidental redupduplication?
"threw them and threw them"


Intentional reduplication! The original is "賊の太刀になげかけなげかけしけるにより..."


That's the same excuse my wife gives me when she throws out shirts I really like.

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