Memories of Silk and Straw

Memories of Silk and StrawFinally a non-fiction read this year, and a very good one. Memories of Silk and Straw is an ethnographic study by a Japanese doctor, Dr. Junichiro Saga, published in the 1980s, a decade of super affluence in Japan. He interviewed lots of elderly people who grew up in a small village about 100 miles north of Tokyo and asked them to recall life, trade, daily activities, etc in the early days of the 20th century. These days most resembled life in “old Japan,” and he wanted to record how people lived at that time. Most of those interviewed were born around 1900, and a few prior to that. He interviewed everyone from midwives to dyers to geisha to farmers. Some of the stories are astounding. Continue reading