Left: Old-time Japan--bathing in a wooden tub in the back yard (in Tokyo, yet)
Right: 40 years after this strip was printed, I was served the same way as a guest in a student's house: the mother, in kimono, did not eat with me but kneeled a few feet from the table to continue serving me throughout the meal. When I first came into the house, she kneeled and bowed to me until her head touched the floor. A large number of the punchlines are about embarrassment, with Sazae or her family (here, her mother) blushing.
The artist, Machiko Hasegawa, must have witnessed this. It's perfectly realistic, but it's the sort of weirdness an adult couldn't invent (well, I couldn't). Note the baby strapped to the older sisters back with a long strip of cloth. Also, the little girls are wearing geta, wooden clogs with a flat sole with two bars of wood under it, one under the ball of the foot and one under the heel. Today people only wear these when they're dressing traditionally (they linger on as toilet slippers in some places, but I think having these as toilet slippers in places where people drink is quite dangerous).
I enjoy these books a lot. There are 12 volumes translated into English by Dominic and Jules Young. The author is Machiko Hasegawa, the publisher is Kodansha, and they're about 8 bucks each, new--if you can't find them in your country, try Amazon Japan.


Images on these pages are copyright Kodansha and the estate of Makiko Hasegawa.