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Midare-gami
The Woman of Love: Yosano Akiko
Date:19, Mar, 2021
Investigated and Written by Misaka Youhei
About our introductory articles


It was 1901. Do you remember? I guess no one would answer yes. It was the beginning of the 20th century, although German Empire (at the time) declared 1900 was the start of the 20th century somehow. In 1901 January, died Queen Victoria who had symbolized European prosperity in the 19th century. And it looks her death in 1901 suggested downfall of Europe during the 20th century. In 1901 Japan, they also got what suggested the 20th century. It was Midare-gami: the first tanka collection of Yosano Akiko (1878-1942).

Yosano Akiko, her original name was Ho Sho. She was born in Osaka. She got to practice tanka in her youth (the end of the 19th century), which made her meet a Japanese poet Yosano Tekkan (1873-1935). She met him, the two got in love so deep at once. It was 1900, exactly the turn of times. Tekkan already had his wife and son when he fell in love affair with Sho. Next year, 1901 October, he divorced and got married with Sho. 2 months ago, they released her virgin tanka collection "Midare-gami (Tangled Hair)."

It contained the tanka telling how deep she was in love. For that, appeared great repercussions. Patriarchy was dominant at the time, blamed several diehards who believed women had to keep silent behind each man. On the other hand, many received well for the quality. Yosano Akiko didn't care about what others madly said, kept going her way straightly. She was so active as a tanka poet, gave births to 6 sons and 6 daughters with Tekkan on the side. It is said Tekkan fell after the marriage with Sho, by the way, for losing his natural flavor as a poet. No mystery, I guess.

Yosano Akiko lived for love. I suppose no one would disagree with that. And Japan started to commit a war with Russia in 1904. She had experienced the war with China while her teens, published a poem hoping for survival of her younger brother and appealing "the war must stop" to the Japanese Emperor. Needless to say, a lot of repercussions happened. Anti-war movement was firstly taken in Europe because of the World War 1. Japan had it about a decade ahead of Europe.

In the center, there was Yosano Akiko living for love. The woman of love was born with her first tanka collection Midare-gami. It appeared in 1901: the first year of the 20th century. Values and ideologies made by men seemed to fall, women rose up with energy on the side all over the world. That was the 20th century. I believe Midare-gami could be a symbol of the century in a sense.

about Midare-gami

・Written by Yosano Akiko




 

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