Rough LivingOn Sale!
- About the Book
Humorous and poignant, Rough Living (Arakure) follows the fortunes of an ambitious young seamstress, Oshima, as she strives to survive and prosper in Meiji Japan. Written in 1915 by Tokuda Shusei (1872-1943), the great chronicler of Japan's working class, Rough Living explores the social transformations the country underwent in the early twentieth century from the perspective of a young woman who personifies the hungry, entrepreneurial spirit of the times. Through Oshima's eyes we see the formation of the structures of modern everyday life under capitalism as they evolved in Japan from the time of her birth in 1884 until the end of the novel, around 1910.
An unwanted child, Oshima is adopted by a prosperous family but runs away repeatedly after refusing an arranged marriage to a young man with “the feudal mentality of a slave.” Oshima endures a series of ineffectual husbands and lovers and failed business ventures but refuses to be the victim. She does not tolerate derogatory treatment by men and shocks the citizens of Tokyo by wearing Western-style dresses and riding a bicycle around the city to promote her tailoring business. Largely through her efforts, she and her common-law husband prosper, but in the end she relinquishes her hard-won success for a chance to start a new business with an attractive employee she hopes to seduce.