"Exhibiting You" - Story

Igako Asada, Owner, Asadaya Ryokan, Japan, 2003

By: Margo Davis
Submitted: 04/07/2010

Igako Asada is the founder and owner of one of the oldest ryokans (inn) in Japan. When my husband and I arrived in Kanazawa and went directly to the Asadaya Ryokan, the proprietor welcomed us with tea and recounted to us the history of his grandmother's inn. It was passed on to her... her family had owned and run the ryokan for some 800 years. They were a samurai family well known in the area as having been messengers for the emperors. I asked if I could photograph her in one of the empty rooms of the inn.

When she arrived several days later, she was dressed in her elegant kimono and obi with an emerald embedded in the fabric. It may be that the Japanese culture is not known for promoting women as leaders in public life. But, here was a queen, a woman whose strength clearly emanated from her very being. It did make me question many stereotypes that we, as Westerners, can perpetuate on other cultures. Igako had single-handedly led the family through wars and economic downturns with unheralded leadership.

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