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富岡日記に見る西上州シルクロードと富岡工女
西上州エリアマップ
群馬ディスティネーションキャンペーン
あんなか観光ガイド
富岡製糸場 世界遺産推進ホームページ
富岡製糸場を愛する会
鉄道遺産群を愛する会
西上州での交通手段
日本観光協会

 

"Tomioka Diary" written by Ei Wada has been read repeatedly as valuable material that describes the everyday life of the working women at that time. What was felt by Ei who, at the age of seventeen, came from Matsushiro, Shinshu (Nagano) to the Tomioka Silk Mill although few people were willing to come probably because they had believed the rumor that foreign people would squeeze your live blood? What did the Tomioka Silk Mill look like as it was depicted in "Tomioka Diary" written by Ei to record the life at that time? What did the working women think of when working for the silk mill? Isn't it a good idea to have a browse on the diary?
富岡工女として日本の近代化に大きく貢献した和田英。




The rumor sounds horrifying, doesn't it?
When the Tomioka Silk Mill was founded, it recruited working women. Seeing foreign engineers drinking red wine, somebody misunderstood the red wine as human blood.
Since this misunderstanding spread, turmoil happened. For example, some parents forced their daughter into marriage in an effort to prevent her from going to the silk mill.

The diary tells how she departed Matsushiro, Shinshu (Nagano) and crossed the Usui Pass before proceeding to Tomioka.
The Usui Pass is between Yokokawa, Gunma Prefecture (at an altitude of 387 m) and Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture (at an altitude of 939 m), which are at a distance of about 10 km. The pass is steep because the altitude difference is 500 m across that distance. At that time, the road that crossed the Usui Pass was bad. However, since it was part of the Nakasendo Road, which was maintained, it was not so difficult even for women to walk through the pass.
The diary mentions Chikara Mochi cakes, straw sandals, and sweets. You may feel that she was also sometimes an ordinary girl.
You can buy this Chikara Mochi as a homecoming gift commemorating your visit to the Usui Pass.

In front of the Tomioka Silk Mill, she frankly expressed her surprise with the sumptuous brick building she had never seen and the internal equipment. She commented that she felt even horrified because she was tremendously astonished.
The Tomioka Silk Mill was constructed with national dignity. You may feel the Meiji government's enthusiasm for modernizing the silk industry of the country.

She wrote here about the scene of the work of classifying cocoons based on length, size, and contamination. Ei and others were assigned to this cocoon classification work for a certain period of time after they were admitted to the silk mill. However, simple work is always hard enough. Warm air and the smell of cocoons make you sleepy.  
Remembering her home land and her resolution of making every effort to bring back home silk production technology, she tried to control her sleepiness. You may feel sympathetic to her.

Ei and her coworkers wanted to begin reeling as soon as possible.
What then happened?

To her surprise, she noticed that women who were admitted to the silk mill later than Ei and her coworkers were engaged in reeling, earlier than Ei and her coworkers. What was their reaction?

How disappointing!  
She felt so sad and frustrated that she could not eat lunch.
The affair finally quieted down when a staff member of the silk mill deeply apologized to and soothed Ei and her coworkers. This affair is recorded as an entirely important event in the diary.
By the way, when she and her coworkers were, at last, assigned to the reeling task, ..

Tomioka Diary includes other realistic work-related and other episodes as well as scenes around herself and other working women, such as the pleasure she felt when she became a first-class worker because she had been good at reeling, a cherry blossom viewing party held during a holiday, an affair that was triggered by a Bon dance festival, and an experience she had when she was returning home after she completed the training period -- actually, she bought clothes on credit in reliance on her salary from the silk mill, but had to put up the money because the price of the clothes was too high.
If you read this diary in advance, you will more enjoy your visit to the Western Joshu (Gunma) Silk Road.