Thursday, March 3, 2011

A woman like Ume blossom

A return of the cold weather these past few days is making Ume blossoms flinch? Maybe not. Ume blossom shows itself at its best in the time of hardship.

In the history of women, there’s one woman embodied the essence of Ume. Her name is Umeko Tsuda(1864-1929), originally named Ume. In the field of education for women, she was a trail blazer.

At the age of 6, as a youngest member, she went to the States as an exchange student along with another four ladies. She studied hard till the age of 18 there. After returning Japan, however, she had to confront societal and domestic pressures that demanded that she should behave in line with traditional gender role.

Later she went to the States again and during her stay she met with Helen Keller or Florence Nightingale in England and got inspired a lot. Through them she was convinced there should be diversified choice of life for women including marriage. In 1900, she founded the Women’s Institute for English Studies, current Tsuda College, for improving the status of women. It remains one of the most prestigious institutes of higher education in Japan.

“Ume blossoms are seen as an example of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. More recently they have also been used as a metaphor to symbolize revolutionary struggle since the turn of the 20th century” says Wikipedia.

Last Sunday, I walked for Ume blossom viewing. Pedometer showed 26000 steps, about 18km, to and from there. Good walk!


  1. Thank you for this post about a woman who took a lead in women's education with her high hope and resilience like ume blossoms. This has reminded me of a woman, Haruko Tomokuni, a founder of my high school (founded in 1887), who was one of another four girls, younger than Umeko Tsuda. The school motto was 堅忍不抜、忠恕温和.

    I think this place is 追分梅林. I can tell it from rather low cultivated ume trees. Right? It is about 30 minutes' walk from my house. I'll go there, too, someday soon.

  2. I aspired her greatness when I was young, even though I knew little about her deed.

    Your first photo really looks like a woman who keeps upright posture.
    Thank you for sharing these photos. It seems to have been a fine day, and you were a hardy hiker as usual.

  3. By the way, the photos of a heron are great!
    The header, too.

  4. Umeko Tsuda, her biography is going to be broadcasted on NHK soon. May be next Saturday?
    By the way, Cosmos. This place is Oiwake Bairin?
    I have not been there,but a friend of mine strongly recommends me to visit Oiwake bairin.
    She says that ume fruits are sold after the flowers ended. I think I shoud go to buy the fruits and make Ume liquor.

  5. Ume blossoms represent courage. Your first photo looks like Umeko Tsuda who courageously struggled for women in the country of male chauvinism. Thanks to women like her, now we live enjoying equality, not perfectly but much better than the olden days.
    Your photos and words are bringing me spring breeze!

  6. So beautiful, ume in Oiwake bairin.
    I drove The-second-Hanna-freeway on last Tuesday. But regrettably I didn't notice it because of rain.
    your photos of ume are very lovely--upright,clear.
    I was surprised that 6 year-old Tuda Umeko went US.

  7. Thank you, friends, for taking time to comment on this. I've just returned from a short trip to Vietnam whose temperature is now around 28℃.

    Yes, this is Oiwake bairin, originally cultivated for its fruits and kept low to make it easy to pick them up. Nowadays about 4000 ume trees have been pleasing visitors's sights and tastes.

    As for the program featuring Tsuda Umeko, it will be on the air tonight, if I am correct.

  8. It surely is calming to look at the photos you shared here. I really like reading your blog posts from time to time because of the effects it can give. Thanks for sharing this college paper post about a describing or comparing females to ume blossom.


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