Miyazawa Kenji

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Although Miyazawa Kenji’s work went largely unrecognized during his lifetime he is now known as one of Japan’s foremost poets and authors of children’s literature. He was a committed Buddhist and a vegetarian – a rarity in a country that values seafood as a staple – and frequently wrote about interspecies dialogues, among other examples of empathic communication. One of his better known pieces, “Strong in the Rain,” exemplifies his focus on nature and self-sacrifice; in it, he longs for a robust body so that he can better serve his neighbors, even as they look down on him for his ordinariness. When the 2011 earthquake hit Japan the poem gained memetic popularity, becoming a symbol of Japanese resilience. (Several more poems, in English and German, are available here, along with a short article on a choreography based on his works. A few more are available for downloading in English here. Works in the original Japanese can be found here. For a more detailed analysis of Miyazawa’s themes and techniques, try this website.)

Miyazawa is included on this blog with the caveat that speculation about his asexuality does not appear to be (at least per a cursory search) rooted in anything he himself expressed, but rather his seeming lack of interest in any romantic or sexual connection. His writing is entirely devoid of sexual themes and he was never known to have taken any sort of partner; in fact, his deepest connection was reputed to be with nature.

 

 

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