Point of Departure 4: A (Mostly Detached) Memoir of a Place

Point of Departure 4: Describe a place that holds significance for you, either because of an event that occurred there or for what would happen there typically. While you should note how you are associated with the place, keep your main focus on describing the place itself. 


The chapter “Travel Education,” in A Daughter of the Samurai, starts with Sugimoto’s memories of a place that held great fascination for the author and her brother:

The large, well-cared-for house in which we had taken refuge that stormy night was crowded full of busy workers. With the exception of the living rooms of our host, his wife, and two daughters, the entire house was full of skeleton frames containing tiers and tiers of bamboo trays, each holding a network screen covered with silk worms. There must have been thousands and thousands of them. I had been accustomed to silkworms all my life. Ishi’s home had been in a weaving village, and my elder sister had many silk villages on her three-mountain estate; but I never before had spent a night in sound of the continual nibbling of the hungry little creatures. It filled the whole house with a gentle rustling, exactly like the patter of raindrops on dry leaves, and I dreamed all night of dripping eaves. The next morning I awakened with a depressed feeling that I was to have a day’s ride in a close-shut jinrikisha, and was surprised, when I pushed back one of the wooden panels at the porch edge, to find that the sun was shining.

While I was standing there, one of the daughters, about my age, came out carrying a straw mat of silkworm waste to throw on a pile in the yard for the mulberry stems and rice hulls of silkworm waste make the best fertilizer in the world—and she stopped to bow good-morning. Then she stood there in the June sunshine with her sleeves looped back and her bare feet in straw sandals, and I squatted on the edge of the porch in my home-dyed night kimono, and we got acquainted.

She told me that she took care of six trays of silkworms all by herself. She seemed to know everything about them, and she loved them.

“They’re clean,” she said, “and dainty about food, and intelligent about their own affairs—just like people.”

I was so interested in all the surprising things I heard that I was still listening when a girl came to fold away my bed cushions, and I had to hurry to get dressed.

“Well,” said Brother, after my room had been cleaned, and breakfast brought in, “how do you like living in a boarding house?”

“The boarders are very noisy,” I replied; “and, from what our hostess’s daughter told me, they are very particular. She says they cannot endure one particle of dust. Even a withered leaf will sometimes cause one to ‘tie on his blue neckerchief’ and creep to the outer edge of the tray.”


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Women's Autobiography Copyright © by dixonk is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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