Travels in Manchuria and Mongolia: A Feminist Poet from Japan Encounters Prewar China

Travels in Manchuria and Mongolia: A Feminist Poet from Japan Encounters Prewar China

Travels in Manchuria and Mongolia: A Feminist Poet from Japan Encounters Prewar China

Travels in Manchuria and Mongolia: A Feminist Poet from Japan Encounters Prewar China

Synopsis

Yosano Akiko (1878-1942) was one of Japan's greatest poets and translators from classical Japanese. Her output was extraordinary, including twenty volumes of poetry and the most popular translation of the ancient classic The Tale of Genji into modern Japanese. The mother of eleven children, she was a prominent feminist and frequent contributor to Japan's first feminist journal of creative writing, Seito (Blue stocking). In 1928 at a highpoint of Sino-Japanese tensions, Yosano was invited by the South Manchurian Railway Company to travel around areas with a prominent Japanese presence in China's northeast. This volume, translated for the first time into English, is her account of that journey. Though a portrait of China and the Chinese, the chronicle is most revealing as a portrait of modern Japanese representations of China -- and as a study of Yosano herself.

Excerpt

Yosano Akiko (1878–1942) was one of Japan's greatest poets and translators from classical Japanese. Born into a confection shopkeeper's home in the city of Sakai outside Osaka, she had the good fortune, despite her gender, of being reared in a household full of books. Although her father banished her at the age of one month to the home of an aunt because he so wanted another son, she returned to her natal home after the birth of her brother in August 1880, when she was twenty months old. While she bore the many responsibilities for minding the shop, she consumed the classics of Japanese literature. At the Sakai Girls' High School from which she graduated in 1895, she continued reading broadly in Japanese literature as well as European literature and poetry, though most of this must have been done on her own given the level of pedagogy at the time at such a school. In September 1895 when she was a mere sixteen years of age, she published her maiden poem, in the tanka style, in Bungei kurabu (Literary Club), a journal in Tokyo.

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