In 1893, Sumiya Koume (1850–1920) wrote an essay for the prominent women’s journal Jogaku zasshi(Women’s Education Magazine) entitled ‘I Recommend Against Becoming a Geisha or Concubine’. In it, she critiqued both roles and exhorted women who were serving as geisha not to become concubines. She did not mention that she herself had worked as both a geisha and a concubine (tekake or mekake). By the time she wrote her essay, she had also served as a political activist as well as a social reformer and missionary. Sumiya’s life sheds light on the transitional nature of the early Meiji era, specifically the period of flux between the formal abolition of concubinage in 1882 and the advent of the state-sponsored ‘good wife, wise mother’ (ryōsai kenbo) paradigm in 1899.
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Anderson, Marnie S., "Critiquing Concubinage: Sumiya Koume and Changing Gender Roles in Modern Japan" (2017). History: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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