Granddaughter raising funds for Soseki memorial

by Hidehito Goto

Kyodo

A granddaughter of Meiji Era novelist Natsume Soseki (1867-1916) is backing a donation drive to build a memorial to the author, whose major works include “I Am a Cat” and “Botchan.”

The Shinjuku Ward office in Tokyo is aiming to construct the memorial in the Wasedaminami district, where the writer had a home and spent his last nine years, in time for the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2017.

Mariko Hando, 78, who serves as a special member of the project’s committee, said she wants to realize the “unfulfilled dream of my father” to commemorate the author.

“He was an apprentice of Soseki and strongly desired to build a memorial,” Hando said. Her father was married to Soseki’s eldest daughter.

The ward office has been seeking donations in increments of ¥1,000 since July 1, aiming to raise ¥200 million in total.

“I liked the idea of collecting (donations in increments of) ¥1,000 as (the portrait of) Soseki used to appear on the ¥1,000 bill,” Hando said. “It is too bad that he isn’t on the note anymore.” Soseki appeared on the note issued from 1984 to 2004.

The memorial is likely to re-create the writer’s Western-style workroom where he wrote such novels as “Kokoro,” “Grass on the Wayside” and his unfinished novel “Light and Darkness,” and also his living room.

There will also be an exhibition room displaying other items connected to the author’s life, and Hando plans to donate valuable documents.

  • John McGregor

    Natsume Soseki is my favourite Japanese author, and his novel Kokoro is still very close to my heart. I wish his granddaughter every success in establishing a memorial for him. I sincerely hope to visit it next time I visit Japan!