The contribution of rural women to the creation and expansion of the Japanese nation-state is undeniable. As early as the 19th century, the women of central Japan, Naga prefecture in particular, provided abundant and cheap labour for a number of industries. In whatever capacity they worked, these women became the objects of scrutiny and reform in a variety of nationalist discourses, t only because of the importance of their labour to the nation, but also because of their gender and domicile. This text explores the interconnectedness of nationalism and gender in the context of modern Japan. It combines the author's field research with an examination of the documents produced at various levels of society. It provides a look at the women as national subjects through the critical chapters of Japanese modernity and postmodernity.