Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

Report from Chiba

Having been sent requests for information by various agencies, Governor Gotō Takizō of Chiba, Ogura's home prefecture, provided a detailed report on Ogura's background. Here we see that her history of transgressive mobility did not begin with her encounter with Chen Zhaopin.

Gotō reported that Ogura was “of gentle character but somewhat lewd” (inpon). She had graduated from higher elementary school in her home town, (Toyoumi-mura, Makame-aza, in Sanbu-gun) and then attended Togane-chō Private Higher Sewing School in same county.  While attending that school, at age 20, Ogura became the lover of Ichikawa Yoshizō, a store clerk in the same town, and the two ran off without permission to Tokyo, residing at Shin Totsuka 448, where Ogura gave birth to a daughter, Kimie, c. March 1927. The family then returned home to recover from an illness, but since Yoshizō seemed to pay her no attention, Ogura took custody of Kimie and rented a house in the same village, where she worked sewing and received additional funds from her family to make ends meet.

The Oguras were a respectable sort. (Here is a link to records of some documents from the Ogura family, 1870-94, held by the National Institute of Japanese Literature.) Older brother Hisanojō graduated middle school and was employed by an elementary school in the next village; he paid about 30 yen in land tax, and led a "middling- or higher-level" (chūryū ijō) life. Ogura's older sister had married Yamamoto Denjirō, a weaving business owner in the same district, but she had separated from him after he bought out the contract of a geisha (geigi) and made her his mistress, and was currently in the process of suing him for damages. 

The report also provides more details about Ogura's relationship with Chen. Chen began residing in Sanbu-gun Toyoumi-mura in June 1928 and peddled in the surrounding villages. He occasionally visited Ogura Nobu's family on his rounds, becoming acquainted with her.  In March 1929, year, he asked Ogura to be his intermediary to marry Teru (surname unknown), an 18-year-old student in the sewing school. This proposal fell through, but Ogura felt compassion for him, he became close to her, and by April they had become lovers. Ogura's parents, finding out about the relationship, tried to separate the couple by sending their daughter to live with Tanigami Tōkichi in Umegatani-aza, Ryokkai-mura, in the same county. Chen learned of this development and went to visit Ogura at the Tanigami residence on August 7, staying there until September 4. On that day, at about 6:00 pm, the couple packed up her household goods and departed together. Despite her family's opposition to the marriage, the report concluded, Ogura appeared determined to again travel to China and cohabit with Chen.

Suggested connections/questions/topics: histories of elopement | histories of divorce | Sanbu-gun: relationship to Edo/Tokyo | sewing schools as contact zones and meeting places | Ogura's daughter Kimie (immobile vs. mobile people)

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