Gusokuya edition
Yosha Bunko

Tokyo nichinichi shinbun
No. 838
   1874-10-29 (1874-11+)
Granddaughter-in-law

Story translation (partial)

Don't take a wife with the same surname, goes a golden saying of the sages -- but [the man] broke this teaching along with the [proverbial] straw mat [on which an old men satisfy their cravings]. [The man], over 70 years of age, produced a child (1) with the house servant (2). He made her his second wife (3), but when [officials] examined her register, she was a daughter (4) the wife (5) of the son (6) of the old man (7) had borne in another house (8). She had hidden this from people, called the girl a maidservant (9), and no one knew [who she really was]. Though calling [her] the man's wife (5), she was the daughter (4) of his daughter-in-law (10) -- in other words, his grandchild-in-law (11) -- but to the old man's child by his first wife (12) she would be a stepmother (13), and because for the [son's] wife she was a daughter, this would make the daughter (14) a mother-in-law (15) [to her own mother], and as the wife of the old man, her own mother would be her daughter-in-law (10), which makes the geneology (16) hugely confusing. (WW)

Retiree of Kobikimachi (17)
Tendendo Shujin

[Translated by William Wetherall]


Commentary

This story, while pulling the reader into a maze of family ties, contains numerous terms for such ties.

1. "produced a child" reflects (一児を設し ichiji wo moukeshi, ichiji o mōkeshi).

2. "house maid" reflects (家婢 kahi) -- more generally a "woman who served a household" as a servant or slave.

3. "second wife" (継妻 keisai) -- more generally a "successive wife" or "step wife" -- as distinct from a first wife or former wife, from which the man has been separated by death or divorce.

4. "daughter" (娘 musume) -- meaning also a "young girl" or just "girl".

5. "wife" (妻 tsuma) -- the general word for wife.

6. "son" (嫡子 musuko) -- graphically "chakushi" meaning "legitimate child" as opposed to a stepchild.

7. "old man" (翁 okina) -- sometimes used as a title of respect that could be rendered "venerable gentleman".

8. "another house" (他家 take) -- as opposed to her own household or the man's household.

9. "maidservant" correspondes to 下婢 (gejo), which is graphically "gehi". The word corresponding to the furigana reading "gejo" is usually written 下女 -- or "lower woman".

10. "daughter-in-law" (嫁 yome) -- meaning either "bride" or "daughter-in-law" -- as a woman who becomes a bride typically joins her husband's family as a daughter-in-law.

11. "grandchild-in-law" (義孫 gison).

12. "child by his first wife" (嫡 ko) -- graphically a man's principle wife, used also to designate a legitimate child, especially a son, she bears him.

13. "stepmother" (継母 keibo).

14. "daughter" (娘 ko) -- graphically "girl" or "daughter". This graph -- as well as 女 (onna) -- is commonly used for "ko" when referring to a woman, such as a club hostess, as a "girl".

15. "mother-in-law" (姑 shuutome, shūtome).

16. "geneology" (系譜 keifu).

17. "Retiree of Kobikimachi" (木挽街の逸民 Kobikimachi no itsumin). 逸民 (itsumin) means either a "recluse" or a person who has no official post and does as he pleases. Tentendō Shujin (Takabatake Ransen) similarly styled himself "Recluse of Kobikimachi" (木挽街の隠士 Kobikimachi no inshi) in the by-lines of TNS-1027, TNS-1036a, and TNS-1052. Kobikimachi referred to Kobikichō (木挽町) in Ginza where Takabatake actually lived.