Masae was born at a lonely village in Kagoshima, 1955. After junior high school graduation, she came to Fukuyama as one of mass employment. The employer of this 15-year-old girl was a company controlling several sewing plants. The sewing business was an indigenous industry of Fukuyama region, but in the sunset. At that time, Fukuyama city was not an urban area of about 70 thousand population, but because the Japanese government designated this local city as a “Special Area for Industrial Consolidation” restarted as developing area in 1964. In 1966, the Nippon Kokan, today’s JFE, established a huge steel works and many companies that related to the steel plant came to there. Sudden laborer shortage, which was common situation throughout country, happened among every industry in there, and the local government and mass medias welcomed employees graduated junior high school as “Golden Eggs”.
A poor dorm and manual labor she engaged, but Masae never got boredom. Nevertheless, a low paid worker she was, could supply money her parents, and could saved money for her future every month. The lights of developing Fukuyma city burned redly and hospitably, and it seamed hugging her gently. At the weekend, she enjoyed bowling and films with her coworkers. Because these entertainments were booming, she had opportunities to get many acquaintances working in the other companies. Therefore, she did not feel herself unhappy absolutely.
She worked hard and became an independent for sewing having high-level skills, and grew into a woman. When she was 20 years old she fell in love with 3-year-older man Atsushi, a worker of a steel production related company. After about 2 years since their first met, Atsushi made the marriage proposal to her, and she accepted him. He introduced her to his parents and they welcomed her and blessed them. When Masae reviewed her life, those days were blessed indeed. With very honest personality, he confessed himself to her a burakumin. However, she did not bother his truth. She has not listened this term buraku, nevertheless, a lot of buraku were in Kagoshima prefecture. His truth would bring a misfortune, she could not imagine such, she believed in every thing were going well.
On some day of the late spring, Masae and Atsushi had a trip to Kagoshima for introducing her family to him. Shinkansen unopened, they did not have much money, a night train transported their two days to the southernmost tip of Kyusyu. In a car, Atsushi sometimes look little feeling down, however, she judged his viewing came from his hard working of evening shifts. Her family welcomed him and had good conversations with them. Certainly, Atsushi ask her father to allow their marriage. Her parents did not give allowing clearly, only gave slight smil. However, Masae and Atsushi were convinced of their marriage.
About two weeks later, Masae received a calling from her mother telling the following statement of the family.
“Our family, especially your father never agree with your marriage, and you must leave your company and come back to hometown Kagoshima immediately.”
To her surprise, so different statement from her expectation brought by welcomed atmosphere at that night, she got heavy confusion. Atsushi was only in silent listening to her.
Immediately, she decided to go home to ask the reason of rejecting marriage of two lovers. As soon as she arrived at the portal of home, her parents, grand parents, uncles and aunts who were waiting for her coming back criticized her with severity. Particularly, an uncle was too much in a blaze of passion. They did not listened to her begging to ask reason of refusing. Their answer is simple and only one.
“You are a dishonor of our whole family. We absolutely never agree with marriage to persons of different social standing. His pedigree was different from us too much. Never go back to Fukuyama again! We will go through not only the arrangements of your resignation, but also packing your things in your dome.”
As if her life depends on it, Masae struggled to explain about personality and a life plan of Atishi. However, no one had sympathy for her. She noticed that her parents and relatives run a background check of Atsushi and his family. They had contracted with detective agency just after that comfortable night.
Masae shuffled out of her family with helping of her friends. She lent few money and cloths for getting Atsushi again. She told him the incident of all at her hometown. Then, with releasing a tinny sigh, he kept quiet listening to her with sad feeling, and said he might abandon the future for two. However, her determination that live with Atsushi already became a firmly believe. The next day, her parents went on a visit to Masae, and persuaded Masae to abandon marriage and come back to hometown immediately. They discussed Masae’s future and the family’s relationship through the night. After long argument, her father abandoned dissuasion with their daughter, and left her for Kagoshima with admonition.
“If you married Atsushi, most relatives would refuse you because of becoming a member of filth family, and a hard life would wait for you absolutely. This is an obvious truth in this country. I think if you want to be happy, you cannot get it by only money certainly. However you cannot get it only love. I believe your eyes, and I think he is honesty. However only his good character never bring your happiness. It will be necessary receiving the blessing of your surrounding people especially relatives. He is so-called burakumin that mean residents of the other world. If you became a relative of burakumin, I afraid your brother and sister or cousins will get annoying as members of the filth family, when they marry. People will look at you and your children in future with disapproval. A long and hard life waits for you and your children who will be born in future. We understand your firm decision, so we allow what you want to do. Instead, our family will cut ties with you, and we never allow your coming back to hometown, even if whatever would happen in your future.”
After a teary farewell, her new life with Atushi started in a new municipal house near parents in row. This district was been restructuring, and started the preparation of land for building lots. Developers were tearing down many old and poor houses. Their new municipal house was constructed during this developing. She wondered resident was so easily, and more surprisingly, house rent was so cheep, 3000 yen a month.
When Masae went shopping near her district she sometimes heard rumors that contained the following insistence. Fukuyama city office gave too much priority to the “Dowa” districts such she lived. The residents in there got much money for special scholarship, and aged residents received special health insurance. In addition, their rent cost of municipal house was tithe of regular house rent, and their tax rate was lower than regular rate that the general citizen paid. The reason of this situation based on their standings “Dowa”. They menaced city office and other administrative organizations with collective violence. Every matter and incidents that they feel uncomfortable were discrimination and shifted targets of condemning secretly. They designated a person who criticized “dowa problem” as discriminators. They had strong power, so the general citizen could say nothing.
These rumors based on prejudices and misunderstandings of the general public against BLM and the affirmative action of the government. On the date of occupancy into a municipal house, the question that Msae had felt the rent cost so cheep caused it.
Some general public hated neighbors of Masae as if they watched snakes and caterpillar also despised jobs that burakumin engaged historically. Yet, Masae could understand the rumors’ meanings. As Atssushi initiated to BLL and studied buraku problem he could answer for her questions that came from her listening and watching. Masae could understand his birth in buraku was not desire of himself. The responsibility of being burakumin was not on them. Many burakumin struggled against daily difficulties, such as poverty, lack of education and bad environment based on buraku discrimination.
Why weren’t they ashamed to be burakumin? Why were they struggling asking the government same human rights as the general public reserved. His explanation was logically, however, even if she recognized on logic, she could not accept in her sentiment. He usually told her that he had absolute pride as a human being. She thought that why we could have a pride because of receiving discrimination.
The rumors overlade on her mentally and physically as stresses. She never received discrimination directly, however, she became to refuse using the nearest bus stop from her home without even noticing. Also when some one asked her address she became to answer unclear. Her conditions became nerves obviously more and more as time went by.
Masae and Atsushi got two children. When elder child was 10 years old and younger was 7 years old, she got too much stresses to endure, and she left Fukuyama to Kagoshima in an unexpected fashion. The trigger of her action was a marginal domestic quarrel. At the gate of her parents, she got reunion with her mother who refused her daughter although it was 10 years. Masae listened to mother’s statement with tears. “I admonished you not to marry to him. Do you remember discussion of that day in your room? The person who the discrimination annoyed was you, I proposed as well your father. At that time, you agreed with us that we would be not mother and daughter, didn’t you? You are a mother now! You must imagine how your children are. Who are waiting for your getting home? Get back to them soon!”
Masae was compelled to get back to her family. She anticipated that Atsushi got angry. However, nobody criticized her behavior. Usual daily lives started again as if nothing happened.
One time early from this incident, in her elder son’s composition, she found his struggle against buraku discrimination. He understood Masae and Atsuhi overcame buraku discrimination and married at last. Because if they could not overcome, he was not born in this world he thanked for two deep in his mind. Struggling Atsushi against discrimination was a miler that reflected what a respectable person was for their son. Her son looked foreword to realize the equal society.
Masae could keenly know realties of her sons, and even as a child struggling discrimination through his theme. This composition also taught her that she always not only escaped discrimination but also she noticed she discriminated the people in her district. During she refused the nearest bus stop, she became to refuse residents who lived with her without even noticing. She recognized that her sense of discomfort against buraku seamed to focus to her family Asushi and lovely children. She knew most residents in her buraku never were rich, however, hard workers in there were very honest, kind and great fun loving jokes. More than anything, as like as brothers and sisters, they helped and enforced her loosing relationship with parents and relatives, when she thought back today. Certainly, she examined much pain, however they got suffering from buraku discrimination directly as Atsushi received from her parents when he made a proposal to her. Even if they were hard worker, they suffered from marriage issue.
She compared her residents live with absolute sincerity to people who discriminate them. She had an assurance that the difficulty on burakumin lives were not on their own responsibility. Masae decided to live on the side of sincerely people, in the past decade or so from her marriage.
All too soon, when elder son became a famouse national university student, she got back to her old house with all family. Just Atushi occupied a responsible position in his company. Masae could not help introducing her sons to her parents, especially her mother. If she did not send back Masae to her husband, her family did not take today’s happiness, she desired telling so to her aged mother. Actually, during long years after read her son’s composition, Masae never put an end to send letters to her mother with recent conditions and sons’ photos.