奥さん - Wife. "Mrs. Inside"

A young friend, student of a student of mine, recently married. It was a beautiful wedding (as those things go) and all, but now she has become "Mrs. Inside"...

So what does this mean?

as a kanji means "inside", but it also means "that which is hidden from the world". The kanji itself is made up of two components 米: Rice AND 冂: an upside-down box plus the radical 大: big/huge/great.

In modern times this has come to mean "wife" or "homemaker" or even the derogatory and insulting "house mouse" but the reality is that okusan is the keeper of the family treasures, the holder of those things the world does not know, the guardian of the family secrets.

We use the same kanji when describing the hidden teachings of Hirakawa Ryu: 奥伝: esoteric or hidden teachings.

In older times, okusan remained at home when the men went to war. This does not mean they were any less than those men but rather, they were expected to defend the home against all odds - fighting and dying if needed. Men marched off to fulfill their duty leaving all they held dear in the hands of okusan. The harsh reality is okusan was considered greater than the men; given the higher responsibility.

So, my young friend, you are now the great keeper of the rice which is hidden under a box; the holder of your husbands personal secrets, knowing what is hidden from the world.

Did you think this was going to be easy?