Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shiki's War Correspondent's Briefcase

In yesterday's post, I talked briefly about the Japanese Meiji era poet, Masaoka Shiki. Today, as I was flipping through his biography, my eyes came to rest on a briefcase he used as a war correspondent during the First Sino-Japanese War.

I was drawn to the kanji on its side. So elemental and simple. From one o'clock moving clockwise: mountain, rain, moon, and sea. (山、雨、月、海)

If the moon is a little wonky, no matter. Perfect for a traveling poet. Yet Shiki's travels were short-lived. He had tuberculosis and his stint on board ship only aggravated his illness.

In 1895, as the war was ending, he came back to Matsuyama to convalesce in Natsume Sōseki's house. By 1898 he was essentially an invalid. He died a few years later in Tokyo in September 1902.

The bag now rests in the Shiki Museum in Matsuyama which I had the good fortune to visit last December.

A whole museum — three floors — for one poet. If we only so honored ours.


  1. thank you very much for the posts about Masaoka Shiki, very helpful.

    1. You're welcome Elena. I've been away for such a long time. Just coming back now. Where was I?