The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa TokikoOne Woman's Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan

The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa TokikoOne Woman's Transit from Tokugawa to Meiji Japan

Laura Nenzi

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780824839574

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract

The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko is the story of a rural Mito woman – a political activist, oracle, poet, and teacher – whose life coincided with the late-Tokugawa crisis, the collapse of the shogunate, and the rise of the modern Meiji state. Tokiko’s political activism combines focus and visionary flights of the imagination, nuancing our understanding of political consciousness among the non-elites in nineteenth-century Japan by blurring the line between rational and irrational and between discourse and action. Her use of prognostication, her appeals to the cosmic forces, and her conversations with ghosts illuminate original paths to female participation in the political debate of the late Tokugawa on one side, and resourceful ways to preserve identity in the face of modernity, science, and the onset of historical amnesia on the other. Tokiko’s story places the ordinary individual within the frame of large-scale history, squaring well-known historical moments with the private microcosm of a self-described “nobody.” By putting an extra in the spotlight, The Chaos and Cosmos of Kurosawa Tokiko offers a new script for the drama that unfolded on the stage of late-Tokugawa and early-Meiji history.