Cover of Makiko’s Diary by Nakano Makiko Translated, with an Introduction and Notes, by Kazuko Smith
Makiko’s Diary
A Merchant Wife in 1910 Kyoto
Nakano Makiko Translated, with an Introduction and Notes, by Kazuko Smith


280 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804724401
Paperback ISBN: 9780804724418



Winner of the 1996 Hiromi Arisawa Awards, sponsored by the AAUP.

This is the intimate and richly informative diary kept in 1910 by the young wife of a bustling merchant household in Kyoto. Makiko's husband was the had of his family's pharmaceutical business, and because the store and the family's living quarters were under one roof, it was a very busy place. Makiko writes perceptively about both special occasions (such as weddings, funerals, ancestral memorial services, and festivals) and the daily routine of the complex household.

Almost all of the Japanese women whose accounts of family life are available in English were members of the elite or individuals who distinguish themselves in public life or in the arts. Makiko's Diary differs in that it is a spirited, first-hand account of the domestic world of a housewife, the role played by the vast majority of Japanese women. Makiko herself emerges as an engaging young woman, displaying flashes of sly humor, anger, sarcasm, and self-pity to temper her usual cheerfulness, eagerness to please, and determination to become a better person. Hers is a compelling voice.

About the author

Kazuko Smith is a retied Lecturer in the Japanese Language Program of Cornell University.

"All the relevant explication, notes, maps and illustrations a researcher of modern Japanese social history could desire. . . . [The book] offers insights into the daily lives of 20th-century Japanese women and helps dispel the mythology."

Library Journal

"This truly remarkable diary . . . [is] a valuable text for a wide range of classes in anthropology, history, and women's studies."

—Margery Wolf, University of Iowa