House of Raicho Hiratsuka

The following is an edited translation of a blog article by Chizuko Ueno about her participation in a symposium held at Raicho no Ie, or The House of Raicho, which is a small museum in Ueda City featuring the feminist writer Raicho (1886-1971).

I was invited as the key note speaker for a symposium with the theme Living a Single Life in Rural Areas, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of the venue, the House of Raicho. When I visited the House of Raicho exactly one year before, I was surrounded by a number of passionate members of the organization who asked me to be the key note speaker for this opportunity. So, I ended up accepting this role before I could say anything.

At this year’s symposium, the House of Raicho was packed with 480 participants. At first I thought the people were rather old, but then, I noticed a young mother with an infant. This meant that the audience included people from 0-years old to 92-years old!

This young mother is Mana Abe, who organizes UEDA Rainbow Action and Shinshu Mothers against Laws Related to the Japan-US Security Treaty. She introduced to me her original music piece called Shinshu Mothers Rap, with the message “No one’s children will ever go to war” performed by herself and some children. As you can see in this video, the piece is full of local color because it was performed at the House of Raicho and the lyrics include Shinshu’s local dialect. The following is the link to the video of this rap music performance (copy of the link permitted by Ms. Abe).

At the end of the song, Yoko Sugiyama, representative of the Raicho Association in Ueda, sings a song with her free voice with the lyrics from Raicho’s famous article that started with the phrase “In the beginning, woman was the sun.”

The people who manage the House of Raicho are becoming older. With the 20th anniversary soon to arrive, I was concerned with the continued management of this organization. It is important that newer generations grow so they can take over its management… but of course there’s hope when we see a 0-year old participant at a gathering like this.

I hope that Raicho’s messages for peace, anti-war, and anti-nuclear power will continue to be passed down through generations with this organization as its base.

Translated and edited by Naoko Hirose. Original article in Japanese: