Nikon D750 f/7.1 1/400s 85mm 140 ISO

Over the wintry

forest, winds howl in rage

with no leaves to blow ~Soseki Natsume

Natsume Soseki (夏目 漱石 in Japanese; February 9, 1867 – December 9, 1916) was the pen name of Natsume Kinnosuke (夏目金之助), one of the foremost Japanese novelists of the Meiji Era.  Soseki, along with Mori Ogai,  is considered one of the two greatest early modern Japanese writers… The alienation of modern humanity, the search for morality and the difficulty of communication were common themes throughout Soseki’s works. From 1984 until 2004, his portrait appeared on the front of the Japanese 1,000-yen note.

Natsume Kinnosuke was born on February 9, 1867, just one year and a half before the start of the Meiji Reformation, in Edo (modern-day Tokyo). His father, Naokatsu, was the hereditary chief of a small town in Edo. When Natsume was born, Naokatsu was fifty years old, his wife Chie was forty-one, and they had five sons and three daughters. Bearing a child late in life, in those days, was regarded as “the shame of woman.” Chie was ashamed to have a child at her advanced age and, as the last baby of many children, Natsume was placed in a foster home at either a second-hand store or a vegetable shop. Kinnosuke’s elder sister found that he was being kept in the shop until late at night (the shop was probably kept open until midnight), confined in a bamboo cage beside the merchandise. Unable to look on in silence any longer, she brought him home.

When Natsume Kinnosuke was one year old, his parents foisted him off again, this time on a former household servant, Shiobara Masanosuke, and his wife. Natsume began his life as an unwanted child. Although he was brought up indulgently until the age of nine, Shiobara Masanosuke and his wife eventually separated and Natsume was returned to his family home. He was welcomed by his mother, but his father regarded him as a nuisance. When he was fourteen, his mother died. The solitude and defiance that he exhibited later in life came not only from his character, but from the surroundings in which he grew up. After his return home, he was required to call his parents “grandparents.” …


6 replies to “soseki

  1. Gosh – what a life! Reading the story of Natsume his poem grows richer and richer. Your photo suits it well. Although we are heading for a top of 39C over here in the Australian summer I felt a shiver when I looked at the photo and read the attached poem and story.

    1. Great to hear from you Suzanne. His life has me ponder how many children’s lives have been negatively impacted due to social/cultural norms. Today, many women put off having children until they are of his mother’s age. The impermanence of norms; yet, the long lasting pain they inflict. I have read that Australia’s summer has been rough this year and that the ozone is of concern.

      1. Yes cultural norms can have a negative impact. I raised my kids alone and they were sometimes judged negatively because of that.
        Yes, the summer is hotter than usual. Not too bad here on the southern fringe of the continent but still warm enough. The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica means we are supposed to wear sunblock whenever we go out in the sun. It’s been that way since the 1980s. I often forget when I’m just going out for a little while to shop or something like that. I must get more together about sunblock. Thanks for reminding me.

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