The Budding Tree

Author: Aiko Kitahara

Translator: Ian MacDonald

January 2008, Dalkey Archive Press (ISBN: 978-1-5647-8489-6)

This Naoki Prize-winning work is a personal yet precise account of the lives of working women in the latter half of the Edo period, when the warrior caste was finding itself pushed out of the top echelons of society by the rising merchant class, and famines repeatedly swept the countryside, forcing people into the cities. Against this backdrop, a small number of women vigorously built themselves independent lives with unusual careers—working as teachers, artists, performers, designers, or even scribes—in the male-dominated society of the day. The stories in The Budding Tree recount the conditions in which these women lived.