“I am a cat,” “Botchan,” “Kokoro,” etc. Natsume Soseki, a writer active in the Meiji and Taisho eras, produced many masterpieces. I’m sure you know that too.
Does that “Natsume Soseki” seem to have had success as an internal assistant? It seems that he had a wife named “Kyoko Natsume”. What was his wife like?
I will answer these questions.
Natsume Soseki is a well-known literary figure among Japanese people, with his works being used in Japanese language textbooks and being featured on the 1,000 yen bill. But few people know what kind of life he lived. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of Natsume Soseki’s wife.
Is the great writer Soseki Natsume’s beloved wife? Demon wife?
In this article, we will focus on Kyoko Natsume, the wife of Natsume Soseki, who is famous for such works as “I am a cat” and “Botchan”. I will introduce what kind of person Kyoko Natsume was.
Who is Natsume Soseki?
— 頭木弘樹📕UC『食べることと出すこと』『ひきこもり図書館』『366日 文学の名言』 (@kafka_kashiragi) June 27, 2022
Natsume Soseki was born in Edo Ushigome Babashita Yokocho (present-day Ushigome Kikui-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo) in 1867 at the end of the Edo period. He is a novelist and English scholar whose real name is Kinnosuke.
Soseki’s pseudonym is a play on the four-character idiom “Soseki Chinryu,” which means “a person who refuses to admit failure and is reluctant to lose.”
In 2017, the Soseki Sanbo Memorial Hall was built in Shinjuku Ward, and novels such as “Kokoro” and “Yumejuya” have been adopted in high school Japanese language and modern literature textbooks.
In addition, even those who have never read a novel should know the name “Natsume Soseki”, such as being a model for the 1000 yen bill as a great writer in the Meiji period. His novels are still loved by people all over the world.
Soseki Natsume’s brain is preserved at the University of Tokyo
Soseki Natsume’s brain is preserved in formalin at the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Medicine. The average Japanese male brain weighs about 1,350g, but Natsume Soseki weighed slightly more at 1,425g.
So, this article is about Natsume Soseki’s wife, “Natsume Kyoko”, so I’ll leave the story of Soseki for another time.
Kyoko Natsume, Soseki Natsume’s wife
— 林家ペー【公式】 (@8848pee) April 18, 2021
From the daily life of the great writer Soseki Natsume, wouldn’t he have been in a lot of trouble if his wife, Kyoko Natsume, wasn’t there?
After all, no woman had such an impact on Soseki’s literature.
Soseki, who graduated in 1891 as a second-year student of the English Literature Department of the College, went on to graduate school and became an English teacher at the Tokyo Higher Normal School. (He was paid 450 yen a year…By the way, a member of the Diet’s annual bar is 800 yen.)
However, Soseki at this time was quite mentally ill. He already had symptoms of his later illness.
Kyoko Natsume says of those days:
Anyway, I imagined more than I imagined, and I had such a sick mind that I made up things that only I knew and others didn’t.
It was around the age of 28 that the symptoms of Soseki’s neurasthenia began to appear frequently. Soseki seemed to hate everything.
He then became a part-time teacher at the current Matsuyama Higashi High School in Ehime Prefecture.
On December 28, 1893, he went to Tokyo and got engaged to Kyoko, the eldest daughter of Shigekazu Nakane, the chief secretary of the House of Peers. Soseki was 29 and Kyoko was 19.
Their married life was in Kumamoto in June of the following year. Soseki had already left Matsuyama Junior High School and became a lecturer at Kumamoto’s government-run No. 5 Senior High School (now Kumamoto University). In July he was promoted to professor. However, the newlywed life of the two did not seem to be a very happy one from those around them.
Soseki gives a sentence as soon as he is newly married.
“I’m a scholar and I have to study, so I don’t care about you. I want you to understand that.”
Newlywed life of Natsume Soseki and Natsume Kyoko
After getting married, Soseki knew for the first time. Kyoko has a habit of oversleeping in the morning. In addition, it was not uncommon for Soseki, who was not good at housework and had to go to school, not to serve him breakfast.
Later Soseki wrote in his diary,
“My wife is a late-night sleeper. If I criticize her, she still won’t get up. Somehow, she sleeps at 9:00 or 10:00.”
I am complaining.
However, there was another problem here. Kyoko has always been a late-night sleeper.
Soseki tries hard to get Kyoko to wake up early, but she finds it difficult to get up early because of the habits and constitution she has had since childhood.
So I told him that this was not good, so I had him bring an octagonal clock to the pillar by my bedside, set the alarm every 30 minutes, and acted out in surprise and got up. I was absent-minded.
To Kyoko, who has nothing to do and has many blunders, Soseki
Otanchin no Paleogas is a difficult English word, but Kyoko seems to have interpreted it to mean “Tomma” anyway.
Soseki finds it amusing and throws “Otantin no Paleogas” at him. In any case, I thought that “Otantin no Paleogas” must be difficult English, so I asked my friends who came to visit me, but they wouldn’t tell me. The word “Otantin no Paleogas” became a strange and memorable word for Kyoko.
Three years later, he miscarried his first child. Kyoko becomes severely hysterical and causes incidents in which she attempts suicide.
Natsume Kyoko’s bad wife?
On the other hand, Soseki was also suffering from nervous breakdown and depression, and he didn’t enjoy his days much. At this time, the couple’s relationship was at its worst.
Soseki dislikes Kyoko, and his feeling of exacerbation increases because she doesn’t like housework, spends a lot of money, and is indifferent to art.
The decisive incident was that Soseki was ordered to study in England in September 1902, and during his stay in England after leaving Yokohama, no matter how many letters he sent, he never received a reply.
Soseki’s fans get angry that his wife is treating her husband who is struggling in a foreign country like this. She said, “She is not the wife of a writer or an artist.
However, at this time, Kyoko was having a difficult time raising her eldest daughter, Fudeko, who was born in 1907, and her second daughter, Tsuneko, who had just been born. In addition, her father had also lost his position and lost his job. Kyoko was leading a busy life.
When Soseki returned to Japan from studying abroad, his nervous breakdown became more and more severe, and delusions spread that he was being watched by someone. was offered a divorce, but never agreed to this.
Her Kyoko’s determination
“It’s not like I’ve been unfaithful or anything, it’s not my fault. Indeed, if I go back to my parent’s house alone, I might be safe, but what about my children and my husband?” Isn’t it the wife’s duty to be by her side and take care of her when she is sick?”
Come to think of it, there is a scene in “Botchan” where Kiyo, the only middle-aged maid with whom the main character has affection, sends a long and poorly written letter, which she reads over and over again.
I think it overlapped with Soseki, who repeatedly read long sentences from Mrs. Kyoko.
Soseki passed away on December 9, 1916 at the age of 50.
After that, Kyoko died on April 18, 1963 after living for 47 years. She was 85 years old.
Kyoko Natsume Quote
“I’ve seen many different men, but your father is the best.”
Kyoko falls in love at first sight with Kinnosuke Natsume (Soseki), who appears as a matchmaking partner.
She decides to marry based on the fortune teller’s words that she will be a “hard-working but successful” partner.
However, that was just the beginning of the hardships to come…!
A literary family graffiti with peaks and valleys that you want to read 100 years after Soseki’s death.
Newly written paperback work. Quote: amazon
I would be happy if you could refer to it even a little.
Thank you for reading to the end.
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