A bookstore for feminists opened right near Shin-Daita station, so I decided to visit before picking up my son at his daycare in the neighborhood.
The books here are both new and used, and simply skimming the titles on the shelves tickled my intellectual curiosity. Etc. Books is a publisher of books on feminism, and also publishes a magazine called Etosetora. The editor-in-chief changes every issue, so it’s interesting to be able to think about feminism from different perspectives.
I grew up in a household where both my father and mother worked and did housework, so I was unaware of the inequalities between men and women in the society at large until I left home, got married, and had a baby. But since, I have experienced the persisting inequalities that women face.
When I was in elementary school, I enjoyed watching reruns of Hyokkori hyōtanjima, a musical puppet theater. In it is a female teacher named Ms. Sunday. As a child, I probably recognized the beautiful and poised Ms. Sunday as someone who gave right, straightforward guidance to the children.
There is a scene where the children stand up against the adults: “‘Go study,’ the grown-ups order the children, ‘so that you will one day be great, be rich…’ I’m so fed up with hearing that.”
To the children’s singsong protest, Ms. Sunday replies,
“No, you study to be smart, so that you will become a manly man, a womanly woman, a humanly human—yes—so that will become a human being. Now go study.”
As I thought absentmindedly, “Well if Ms. Sunday says so then it must be right,” my father and mother began to talk about how it was wrong to say “manly man, womanly woman.” What do you think it means to be manly? Or womanly? As my parents asked me these questions, I felt as if my small world had cracked open and was suddenly connected to something big growing on the other side.
These questions from 30 years ago is still an issue in our society today. Looking at the used books in this bookshop, I cannot help but to think about the long history of feminism and the gender gap that still remains unfilled. I have so much to learn from the books in these shelves and I know I will be coming back again soon.
Perhaps the reason to study is so that we can create ruptures in this world that we live in. My mind kept going back to Ms. Sunday and the children of Hyōtanjima as I waited for the train to pass and the crossing gates to open.
Etc. Books Bookshop
Daita Building 1F, 4-10-18 Daita, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
Open Thursday-Saturday 12pm-8pm
For Yuriko E, a stylist who works in Tokyo, her car is a special space that doubles as a room of her own. This series, written from the driver’s seat, delves on the precious things that accompany her.
Written & Photographed by Yuriko E