2015.5.17
Yamaguchi

Whale Town & Misuzu Kaneko, a Sezaki-Born Children’s Poet!

 

Sezaki, Nagato city, Yamaguchi prefecture is a town that once prospered from whaling.
Misuzu Kaneko, a poet who wrote for children, was born and raised here, and fish frequently appear in her poems.

Good catch
In the  morning, a good catch.
A good catch of sardines.
The shores are celebrating,
But I wonder how many thousand

Sardines are grieving in the sea.

Although she grew up in a fishing village, Misuzu composed a poem on the feelings of the fish being caught. She also left behind over 500 other touching works.

This is the town of Sezaki where Misuzu lived. There is an alley that still has traces left of the actual time she lived here. Its name is Misuzu Dori. The starting point is here, at Sezaki station.

 

The station building’s appearance is straight from the Taisho period (1912-1926).
It’s like you’ve instantly made a time slip back to the era in which Misuzu lived.

As you walk around the town, you can see mosaic art here and there. If you take a close look, you can see that they are made from kamabokoita (wooden boards for which kamaboko (steamed seasoned fish paste) are used). Each has a message written on it.
This is one of the many mosaic artworks!

 

It’s the view of the world from the poem Good catch introduced above, presented as is.
You can almost experience the feelings of the sardines caught in the net…

Here and there along the road you can see stores that appear in Misuzu’s poems.

 

This is the highlight; it’s the Kaneko Misuzu Memorial Museum.

It includes a reproduction of Kaneko Buneido, the bookstore where Misuzu worked. You can almost picture Misuzu tending the store while reading a book.

The museum is further inside.
You can glimpse Misuzu’s short life and the sincere world of her works.

 

A lot of thought has been put into the exhibitions.
For example, if you put your hands under this light, a poem will be projected onto your palms.

Lastly, a commemorative souvenir – We recommend this one!
It’s her visionary first poetry collection Mayu to Haka (‘The Cocoon and the Grave’).
The format is a facsimile edition of the time’s version.
Today I’ll hurry home so I can take some time and open a book.

Oidemase! Come to Yamaguchi!
Kaneko Misuzu Memorial Museum

Address: 1308 Sezaki, Nagato city, Yamaguchi prefecture
Telephone: 0837-26-5155
Entrance fees: General admission JPY350, Elementary & Middle school students JPY150
Open: 9.00-17.00
Closed: New Year’s Holidays

URL: http://www.city.nagato.yamaguchi.jp/misuzu/ (Japanese)

Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Masashi Fujimoto

 

 

 

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Masafumi Fujimoto

Masafumi Fujimoto

Masafumi Fujimoto Hi there! My name is Masafumi Fujimoto. Until the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was engaged in editing production at an advertising company in Tokyo. However, the earthquake was a turning point in my life and I headed home to Yamaguchi. When I arrived, I was extremely energized and motivated to help revitalize the region, but I had a hard time adjusting to the motivation level of the local people. Around that time I met an elderly lady who said: "It doesn't matter if all the people move away from the island; that's just the nature of things. Someday people will come back again." Lessening the tension I’d been feeling, those few words relieved me hugely, and I was able to finally adjust. Since then, I've been involved in writing and editing magazines, and working in advertisement production, as well as doing a little bit of farming. I also spend time walking around Setouchi searching for the many, many voices out there.

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