Hakushu, Kitihara 1885-1942

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Hakushu, Kitihara 1885-1942
(Kitihara Ryukichi)


Born January 25, 1885, in Fukuoa, Japan; died November 2, 1942, in Tokyo, Japan. Education: Attended Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan.


Writer, poet, and editor. Tama magazine, founder; Akai Tori (children's magazine), editor in charge of children's songs; lyricist for more than 850 children's songs.


Omoide: jojo shokyokushu (title partially means "Recollections"), Toundo Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1911.

Tokyo keibutsushi: oyobi sonota, Toundo Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1913.

Shinjusho oyobi tanka, Kanaobunendo (Tokyo, Japan), 1914.

Yuki to hanabi: Tokyo keibutsushi, Toundo Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1916.

Suzume no seikatsu: chohen sanbunshi (title means "A Sparrow's Life"), Shinchosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1920.

Doshin, Shun'yodo (Tokyo, Japan), 1921.

Mazaa gusu, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1921.

Senshin zatsuwa, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1921.

Nihon no fue, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1922.

Shi no ha, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1924.

Kisetsu no mado, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1925.

Fukei wa ugoku, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1926.

Gendai min'yo senshu, Dai Nihon Yebenkai (Tokyo, Japan), 1926.

Nihon min'yo sakkashu, Dai Nihon Yubenkai (Tokyo, Japan), 1927.

Nihon shin doyoshu, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1927.

Geijutsu no enko, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1927.

Jido jiyu shishu, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1928.

Fureppu torippu, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1928.

Azarashi to kumo, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1929.

Seikai doyoshu, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1929.

Takamura, Azusashobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1929.

Tsuki to kurumi, Arusu Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1929.

Nihon doyoshu, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1929.

Sakkyoku Hakushu buyoshishu, Kaizosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1929.

Sakkyoku Hakushu doyoshu, Kaizosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1929.

Sakkyoku Hakushu min'yoshu, Kaizosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1929.

Nihon doyo monogatari, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1930.

Chiho min'yoshu, Hakubunkan (Tokyo, Japan), 1931.

Shinko doyo to jido jiyushi, Iwanami Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1932.

Hakushu jojoshi sho, Iwanami Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1933.

Hakushu nensan, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1933.

Hakushu shisho, Iwanami Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1933.

Zenbo, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1933.

Kyororo uguisu, Shomotsu Tenbosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1935.

Kanashiki, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1938.

Kumo to tokei, Kaiseisha (Tokyo, Japan), 1939.

Yemedono, Yakumo Shorin (Tokyo, Japan), 1939.

Karatachi no hana, Shinchosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1940.

Gendai tanka: 1, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1940.

Kurobe, Uedaya Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 1940.

Akai tori kotori, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1941.

Hakushu shika shu, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1941.

Jashumon (title means "Heretics"), Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1941.

Manshu chiri, Futaba Shoin Seikokan (Tokyo, Japan), 1942.

Tanka no sho, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1942.

Shokokumin shishu: Dai Toa Senso, Asahi Shinbunsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1943.

Tsurubami, Seibunsha (Osaka, Japan), 1943.

Botan no boku, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1943.

Hakushu kawa, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1944.

Hakumei shosoku, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1946.

Shiikaron, Tamagawa Kyoiku Kenkyujo (Tokyo, Japan), 1946.

Jido jiyushi kaisetsu, Tamagawa Shuppanbu (Tokyo, Japan), 1946.

Yanagawa fubutsushi, Fugaku Honsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1946.

Kaze no fue, Kigensha (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Chikurin seikyo, Seibunsha (Kyoto, Japan), 1947.

Keiryu sho, Seibunsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Hakushu shishu: 1, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Hakushu shishu: 2, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Hakushu shishu: 3, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Hakushu shishu: 4, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Hi no kuni, Kinbundo Shuppanbu (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Hakushu kashu, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Irodori, Fugaku Honsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Hanagashi, Kaizosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Shinpan Botan no boku, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1947.

Takuboku kashu, Shiratama Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1948.

Shishu Jashumon, Seiko Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1948.

Hakushu shishu: 5, Kawade Shobo (Tokyo, Japan), 1948.

Nihon densho doyo shusei, Kokumin Tosho Kankokai (Tokyo, Japan), 1948.

Ohanashi Nihon no doyo, Kokumin Tosho Kankokai (Tokyo, Japan), 1948.

Unasaka, Arusu (Tokyo, Japan), 1949.

Tentai kisho doshokubutsutahen, Kokuminto Shokan Kokai (Tokyo, Japan), 1949.

Also author of Kiri no Hana (title means "Pawlonia Blossoms"), Botan no Ki (title means "Peony Tree");Tombo no Medama (children's works; title means "The Eyes of a Dragonfly,"); and Suibokushu (title means "Collection of Ink Drawings"). Also author of nearly 200 volumes of poetry and songs.


"If a poll were taken to determine the most popular modern Japanese poet," wrote Margaret Benton Fukasawa in the Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese, "first place would probably be won by Kitahara Hakushu." As Fukasawa went on to say, the poet, who lived from 1885 until 1942, remained as well known more than half a century after his death as he was in his own time. "His gift for lyricism has endeared him to his country," noted Fukasawa. "Children grow up singing his nursery rhymes and even people who profess no interest in poetry can recite, if pressed, his most famous verses." Fukasawa also noted that Hakushu's folksongs are "the most important modern addition to the repertory," adding that they "are sung in rural areas as if they had existed for hundreds of years."

Hakushu wrote in the Japanese symbolist tradition, a genre that gained wide acceptance with the works of Kanbara Ariake (1875-1952). As a contemporary of Ariake, Hakushu and countryman Kiki Rofu (1889-1964) published collections in which "Japanese Symbolism attained its full maturity, and reached its culmination as an independent poetic movement," according to Earl Jackson, Jr., writing in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. Japanese symbolism, Jackson continued, "represents a conscious decision to explore the symbolic faculties of language that had previously existed as innate, largely unexamined characteristics of traditional poetic practices."

With his first collection, Jashumon, Hakushu depicted the Christian missionaries of sixteenth-century Japan, winning praise for the exotic and sensual nature of his poems. Another collection, Omide, was equally well received by the public. Scholars of more recent years have tended to have a different opinion. As Fukasawa wrote, Hakushu's "gift for lyricism and preoccupation with the language and imagery of poetry, while making his [work] widely known and loved, has also estranged many contemporary poets and scholars, who pass over his contribution to modern poetry with a few remarks on the lack of intellectual substance in his works."

Still, Fukasawa singled out such collections as Suzume no seikatsu: chohen sanbunshi as important, because of the years of poverty Hakushu endured during its creation. "The years spent writing [this work] were indeed hard, lean ones," Fukasawa remarked. "Had he not chosen to devote most of his time to the tanka, he could undoubtedly have devised other ways to earn extra income through his writing. He would later term this period a time of ‘discipline’ (shugyo), for he voluntarily chose to experience hardship, hoping that a life of honorable poverty spent concentrating on his poetry would help him to develop a totally new style of verse."

Hakushu's emphasis on tanka, a thirty-one-syllable poetic form that stresses soft, fluid language, was the right choice for Suzume no seikatsu, noted Fukasawa. She added: "Moreover, he set such high standards of perfection for these tanka that he felt compelled to make four complete revisions of them." Fukasawa also pointed out that, while working on this collection, the poet's "understanding of the tanka deepened. This in turn led to further revision, eventually resulting in the new approach to poetry."

In his later years Hakushu "developed a facility so natural that he no longer had to depend upon aesthetic underpinnings to justify his manner of composition," wrote Fukasawa. "A certain artificiality which characterized even the best tanka in … [Suzume no seikatsu] vanished. His observations remained keen, but the range of his lens opened up, as he allowed himself to record his subject matter more naturally, free from the pressure of maintaining a pose."



Fukasawa, Margaret Benton, Kitahara Hakushu: His Life and Poetry, Cornell University East Asia Program (Ithaca, NY), 1993.


Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, December, 1991, Earl Jackson, Jr., "The Heresy of Meaning: Japanese Symbolist Poetry."

Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese,April, 1989, Margaret Benton Fukasawa, "Suzume and Suiboku: Kitahara Hakushu's Turn to Monochrome," pp. 7-67.


Kamakura Web site, http://www.city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp/english/ (June 9, 2006), brief biography of author.