Introduction: What can you learn from one person's story? You certainly can't draw broad conclusions about Japanese court life based on the diary of one woman. You can, however, experience one of the thrills of "doing" history--you can listen to the voice of a woman who died nine hundred years ago. Her fears, her concerns, her joys are very human. And perhaps, you can dispel some of your prejudices along the way.
Instructions: Read the Sarashina Diary. Try to understand her experiences, her motivations, and her record in terms of the world she inhabited, not the one you inhabit. Use the information you gather to answer the question: Do you feel that this woman's record presents evidence for or against the repression of women in early feudal Japan? Was she relatively free or relatively bound? Remember your conclusions will not be universal, but very specifically about this woman's experiences.