"Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."

Victor Hugo, a French poet, novelist, and playwrite (1802-1885)

Japanese Suffragette Komako Kimura At A New York City March, 1917

While British and American suffragettes get all the attention, Japan had a contemporary suffragette movement. It began after the Meiji Restoration when major educational and political reforms started educating women but excluding them from participation in the new "democratic" government. By law, they were barred from joining political parties, expressing political views, and attending political meetings. Japanese women, more educated then ever and slowly participating in Japan's workforce, began fighting for the right to participate in the new civil democracy as well.

Unfortunately, when Western white women began winning the right to vote after World War I, Japanese women were still fighting for basic civil rights. In 1921, for instance, a court ruling overturned the law forbidding women from attending political meetings. They still could not join political parties or vote, but they could express political views and attend political meetings. This led to a flowering of women's suffrage organizations in the 1920s, in addition to literary circles which began publishing feminist magazines during the interwar period.

Japanese women kept the issue alive, but did not win the right to vote until 1945, when election laws were revised under the American occupation.

An original piece by historical-nonfiction

Three different Japanese texts of the early 19th century refer to a “hollow ship” that arrived on a local beach in 1803. A white-skinned young woman emerged, but fishermen found that she couldn’t communicate in Japanese, so they returned her to the vessel, which drifted back to sea.

Although it reads similar to a folktale, it is an oddly specific one — the texts give dates (Feb. 22 or March 24) and give the dimensions of the craft (3.3 meters high, 5.4 meters wide), which was shaped like a rice pot or incense burner fitted with small windows. Reportedly the woman carried a small box that no one was allowed to touch.

Unfortunately, the place names mentioned appear to be fictitious. So most likely the story is merely an expression of the insularity of the Edo period. One thing the ship was not was a UFO — it never left the water, but simply floated away.

An Amusing Zoology Experiment

In 1833, to show that vultures found their prey by sight rather than smell, naturalist John Bachman made “a coarse painting representing a sheep skinned and cut open:”

"This proved very amusing — no sooner was this picture placed on the ground than the Vultures observed it, alighted near, walked over it, and some of them commenced tugging at the painting. They seemed much disappointed and surprised, and after having satisfied their curiosity, flew away. This experiment was repeated more than fifty times, with the same result."

Mr. Bachman confirmed his results by placing a painting within two feet of a camoflaged trash heap, in his garden. The vultures came as usual, walking around the tasty-looking painting, and generally gave no evidence that they smelled the non-edible trash. Mr. Bachman concluded that vultures may possess a sense of smell, but they do not use it to find food. Given what vultures eat that is probably smart.

In 1850, Phillip Henry Gosse created the first aquarium for the London Zoo, and he coined the word “aquarium.” It sparked a mini-craze for aquariums like the one above.

Did You Know Japan Used To Have Wild Wolves?

Unfortunately, wolves have been extinct on Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu since the 1700s, and on Hokkaido since the 1800s.

The Curious Case Of The Living Dead Man

In 1887, William Marion was hanged for murdering his friend John Cameron in Nebraska. Here's what happened: a body identified as John Cameron was found in 1873. Marion was suspected of the murder, because he had been seen traveling with Cameron’s horses earlier that year. Marion was tried, convicted, and eventually hanged in 1887. But four years later, Cameron reappeared! Turns out he had fled to Mexico, to avoid a paternity claim, and before leaving had sold his horses to Marion. He had not heard about Marion’s arrest and conviction until after Marion had been executed. In March 1987, 100 years after William Jackson Marion’s hanging, Nebraska Governor Robert Kerry pardoned him.

Need To Remember All The British Royal Houses?

Here's a fun mnemonic: "No Point Letting Your Trousers Slip Halfway!" Which stands for the main British royal families: Normans, Plantagenets, Lancasters, Yorks, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanovers, and Windsors. And in chronological order, too!

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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