Higuchi Ichiyo. By Hisako Tanaka, T6kyo. With the beginning of the Meiji era Japan entered upon a new epoch of her history. The sudden impact of Western. Ichiyo Higuchi () revolutionized the world of Japanese literature in the months before her death at the age of Hailed as a true poet. Ichiyō Higuchi (樋口 一葉, Higuchi Ichiyō) is a member of the Port Mafia. She works under Akutagawa’s orders, and acts as his assistant and bodyguard. Higuchi.

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Specializing in short stories, she was one of the first important writers to appear in the Meiji period — and Japan’s first prominent woman writer of hhiguchi times. She wrote relatively little as a result of living a brief life—she died at 24—but her stories had a large impact on Japanese literature and she is still appreciated by the Japanese public today.

Higuchi was unique among her peers in that her writing was based on Japanese rather than Western models. Her work is highly regarded for her use of Classical Japanese languageand for that reason people are reluctant to update or translate it into contemporary Japanese, leaving it difficult for the majority of Japanese ichiyi to read.

She was born in Tokyowith the name Natsuko Higuchi. Her parents had come to the capital from a farming community in a nearby province.

Her father struggled to buy a lower-rank samurai position, then lost it, worked for the municipal government, but was let go, and then invested all the family’s savings in a business venture which failed. Not long before this final debacle, Higuchi, 14 years old, began studying classical poetry at one of the best of the poetic conservatories, the Haginoya. Here she received weekly poetry lessons and lectures on Japanese literature.

There were also monthly poetry competitions in which all students, past and present, were invited to participate. Poetry taught at this school was that of the conservative court poets of the Heian period.

Hibuchi did not help that she was nearsighted, modest, small, and with thin hair.

Her compulsion to write became evident by when she began to keep a diary in earnest. It would become hundreds of pages long, covering the five years left in her life. With her feelings of social inferiority, her timidity, and the increasing poverty of her family, her diary was the place where she could assert herself. Often the entries are written as if they were part of a novel.


Although the diary is of considerable quality and interest, it has not yet been translated into English. She, her mother, and younger sister made ends meet by doing needlework, washing, and other jobs.

Inafter seeing the success of a classmate, Kaho Tanabewho wrote a novel, [2] Higuchi decided to become a novelist to support her family.

Nevertheless, her initial efforts at writing fiction were in the form of a short story, a form to which she would remain true. In she met her future advisor who would help, she assumed, ichiiyo poet-turned-fiction-writer and connect her with editors: She fell in love with him right away, not knowing that, at 31, he had a reputation as a womanizer.

Nor did she realize that he wrote popular literature which aimed to please the general public and in no way wished to be associated with serious literature. Her mentor did not return her passionate, if discreet, love for him, and instead treated her as a younger sister. This failed relationship would become a recurrent theme in Higuchi’s fiction.

Eventually, she got the break she was so eager for: The stories from this first period —94 suffered from the excessive influence of Heian poetry. The plots were thin, there was little development of character and they were loaded down by excessive sentiment, [5] especially when compared to what she was writing concurrently in her diary.

But she was developing rapidly. Several of her trademark themes appear; for example, ixhiyo triangular relationship among a lonely, beautiful, young woman who has lost her parents, a handsome man who has abandoned her and remains in the backgroundand a lonely and desperate ragamuffin who falls in love with her.

Another theme Higuchi repeated was the ambition and cruelty of the Meiji middle class. The story “Umoregi” “In Obscurity” signaled Higuchi’s arrival as a professional writer.

It was published in the prestigious journal Miyako no Hana [7] inonly nine months after she had started writing in earnest.


Her work was noticed and she was recognized as a promising new author. InHiguchi, her mother and her sister abandoned their middle class house and, with a grim determination to survive, moved to a poor neighborhood where they opened a stationery store that before long failed.

Their new dwelling was a five-minute walk from Tokyo’s ill-famed red-light district, the Yoshiwara.

Danly’s ‘In the Shade of Spring Leaves’ brings writer Ichiyo Higuchi’s genius into the sun

Her experience living in this neighborhood would provide material for several of her later stories, [8] especially “Takekurabe”, literally, “Comparing heights”; “Child’s Play” in the Robert Lyons Danly translation; also called “Growing Up” in the Edward Seidensticker translation. The stories of her higuchl period —96 were not only marked by her experience living near the red-light district and greater concern over the plight of women, but also by the influence of Ihara Saikakua 17th-century writer, whose stories she had recently discovered.

His distinctiveness lay in great part in his acceptance of ichiuo characters as worthwhile literary subjects. The last two are considered her best work. With these last stories her fame spread throughout the Tokyo literary establishment.

Books from Japan | Authors : Ichiyo Higuchi | Books from Japan

In her humble home she was visited by other writers, students of poetry, admirers, the curious, critics, and editors requesting her collaboration. But between constant interruptions and frequent headaches, Higuchi stopped writing. As her father and one of her brothers had before her, she had caught tuberculosis. Her best-known stories have been made into movies. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

In this Japanese namethe family name is Higuchi.

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