Beautiful Changes of Hearts Written by Higuchi Ichiyō
Although Higuchi Ichiyō was very young, she had rightly described changes of our mind on an eternal statement in Takekurabe. Miserably but gracefully, it keeps alive for ever.
According to "Police White Paper of 2012," there were 1,246 bathhouses called Soapland, a kind of brothel where we can bathe with some prostitute women, all over Japan in 2011. Yoshiwara in Tokyo is the most popular bathhouse area with the history in Japan.
In Edo era, a lot of labor had to go to Edo (later Tokyo) to work, and most of them were naturally male. They say the ratio of men to women in Edo was two to one or three to one at the time. So they have to authorize and prosper red light districts from the point of view of preventing sex crimes. Among all the areas, they had prospered most in Yoshiwara.
Lately, most harlots have worked independently. However, slave trade had made them become prostitutes in Edo and Meiji period.
Higuchi Ichiyō is the first female author in Japan, who wrote and published her popular novella; Takekurabe, in the middle of Meiji era. You can enjoy the story more, knowing about the real situation of Yoshiwara in Edo and Meiji period as mentioned above.
Several teenagers appear in the story. Midori is a mischievous girl of 14 years old, fated to be a harlot soon. She had impishly grown with her male friends. But they have not played each other recently as before. They have to meet their own changes of bodies and minds like everybody has experienced at puberty. Midori feels lost and says it is so disgusting to be an adult. They must walk on each road.
Higuchi Ichiyō released Takekurabe and next year she died at only 24 years old. She had vividly and freshly written about our changes of hearts in teenage days, with grace and modesty. What does it mean to a girl fated to be a harlot, becoming grown up? What does it show a boy changing into a man? An eternal statement; time wraps all of us. Higuchi Ichiyō had cut out some hearts from the moment and it still looks transparent clearly for reflecting readers' mind.
・Written by Higuchi Ichiyō
・Published by Hakubunkan (1896)
・Read Japanese Version Free
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