Bodies and Structures

Ogura Nobu's return trip: Kobe

Even more details emerged when Ogura's ship reached Kobe, from where she had departed a week earlier.  A report from Hyōgo Prefecture Governor Takahashi Mamoru indicated that when the couple had boarded the Nagasaki-maru, Ogura was already disguised as Chen Wusong and pretending to speak no Japanese. To an incredulous harbor official, Chen Zhaopin then explained that they had married ten years ago in their hometown and had soon after come to Japan, where he had worked as a clothes peddler in Chiba. (The couple had clearly practiced for various contingencies.) The inspector let them proceed, but contacted Nagasaki to ask them to re-investigate the couple when they got there.  

Back in Kobe, Ogura spoke out again:

"I had been living with my uncle Akihara Kiyoshi, who runs a restaurant in my hometown, and married Chen in April; he was working as cloth peddler.  My aunt Toki married a Fujianese named Weng twenty years ago and currently lives in Shanghai and engages in commerce.  Chen also wanted to move to Shanghai and start a clothing trading business, so we decided to go to China at this time.  I felt safe because my aunt was in Shanghai.  But the consular officials in Shanghai lectured me on the dangers, advised me to return to Japan and then put me on the boat.  My luggage (a sewing machine, habutae, futon, and kimono, total worth some 500 yen) is still in Shanghai, so after returning to my place of household registration, I will consult with my parents and intend to again go to China.  On the way back to Chiba, I plan to stop in Yokohama to visit my uncle Lin [Hayashi?] who runs the Kirakutei restaurant in Naka-ku [name unknown]-chō." [Note: Yokohama's Chinatown is in Naka-ku.]

Whether or not her story, including her reference to an aunt living in Shanghai, was true or another script that she and Chen had prepared, Ogura Nobu presented herself as part of a network that extended from Chiba to Yokohama to Shanghai and beyond. And the fact that she had traveled with 500 yen worth of belongings, including a sewing machine, that were still on the mainland, suggests that she was not of a low social background.  Subsequent reports would provide even more details on her personal situation.

An adjacent life, another story:

Ogura Nobu had not been the only Japanese woman attempting to cross to Fuqing via Shanghai on the Nagasaki-maru that departed Kobe on September 10. Governor Takahashi's report (pp. 3-4) indicated that 42-year-old Lin Mine and her three children were also on board. Explore their story.

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