Footsteps of Yasunari Kawabata
"The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country." Author Yasunari Kawabata wrote many fine stories including "Snow Country" with this very popular opening. He also penned "Diary of a 16-year-old", "The Dancing Girl of Izu", "The Sound of the Mountain", "The Old Capital" and "Arched Bridge". The first Japanese person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, he was born in Osaka City and was raised by his grandparents after his parents died while he was still young. He spent his youth in Ibaraki City until he graduated from junior high school in the pre-war system. How did "Kawabata of the world" live here in Osaka? Starting from his birthplace, this is a course to visit spots connected with him. Finding his true face, let's experience the beauty of Japan which he loved.
|START:Subway Tanimachi Line Minami Morimachi Station|
|1.||5 min walk||Site of the birthplace of Yasunari Kawabata|
|2.||Hankyu Railway Ibarakishi Station 1 minute||Higashi Honganji Ibaraki Annex|
|3.||1 min walk|
|4.||5 min walk|
|5.||3 min walk|
|6.||15 min walk|
|7.||Hankyu Bus from Shiyakushomae to Shukunosho Bus stop, approx. 5 minutes walk to northwest|
|8.||JR & Hankai Tramway approx. 1 hour|
1. Site of the birthplace of Yasunari Kawabata
First Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, affectionately called "Tenmano Tenjin-san". Yasunari Kawabata was born a little east of the front gate of Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, where the Japanese restaurant "Aioiro" currently stands, on June 14, 1899. A stone monument to the "Birthplace of Yasunari Kawabata" quietly stands at the gate. Here in Tenma, Kita-ku, Osaka city, former Konohanacho, his father Eikichi was a doctor and opened a clinic. Eikichi died of tuberculosis when Yasunari was barely 1 year old. He moved close to the mother Gen's parents' house (current Higashi Yodogawa-ku). Gen died in January, 1901. After losing both parents while still young, his grandparents took him in the following year, and moved to current Shukunosho, Ibaraki city, former Toyokawa village, Mishima-gun, Osaka prefecture. Go to Ibaraki by Hankyu Railway.
2. Higashi Honganji Ibaraki Annex
Ibaraki City is approx. 20 minutes away from Umeda, Osaka by Hankyu Railway. Yasunari moved in this place from Osaka with his grandparents about 100 years ago. He was weak, but his grandparents loved him. He entered Toyokawa Primary School in April, 1906 where he was a good student. The reference shows he was a straight-A student in the first grade. Japanese language was all A except in the second grade. He entered Osaka Prefectural Ibaraki Middle School (current Osaka Prefectural Ibaraki Senior High School) in 1912. Where he was in the 5th grade, he experienced the death of the respected teacher Mr. Ninichiro Kurasaki. The funeral was held here at Ibaraki Annex, attended by all the 5th grade students. He wrote about the funeral, and it appeared on a magazine "Danran" titled "Coffin of our teacher on the shoulder". In the place which triggered his talent, a kindergarten stands, and is noisy with the voices of children. The roof of the main temple has intricate wood carvings. Taking photos one after another.
3. Toratani Seiseido Book Store"
1 minute walk from the Ibaraki Annex. This book store on the left of the Ibaraki Shinsaibashi Shopping Street entrance was established in 1895. In the Taisho era, then-middle-school-student Yasunari Kawabata and Soichi Oya dropped by. Yasunari had a hard time to afford books, but still he was a bookworm. The original two-story wooden building remained until 3 years ago. Now the first floor is a 99-yen shop, and upstairs is the office of the book store. The old store signboard to remember the time is preserved. Don't miss it.
6-7 minutes walk toward Prefectural Ibaraki Senior High School, the 4-story white building facing the main street is also a book store. Yasunari Kawabata would often buy books here and devoted himself to reading. The old store signboard of the time is preserved beside the entrance. Kawabata Literature fans often visit this neighborhood. Many shops, though they are no longer in business now, have nostalgic signboards such as Tailor Okamura, Horiuchi Tobacco Shop, Kishida Shinko Do, etc. It escaped the air raids in WWII, so it is dotted with old townhouses. Glancing about the neighborhood, cross the intersection right in front of the Horikokyokudo, arrive at Prefectural Ibaraki Senior High School after 2-3 minutes walk.
5. Monument to the Literature of Yasunari Kawabata
Arrive at Prefectural Ibaraki Senior High School with the Literature Monument. Go in the front door, "Meet friends through literature" is put up on the side. This is a phrase from the Analects of Confucious, meaning "friendship through academic study". When Yasunari Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the school asked him, a graduate of 1917, for words to put on the monument and then made it. Thanks to the lesson by the great precursor, the Prefectural Ibaraki Senior High School is one of the best in the prefecture.
6. The Ibaraki Municipal Kawabata Literature Memorial Hall
Another 15 minutes from Prefectural Ibaraki Senior High School. Head for the main street of Toraya Book Store, and go further toward Kawabata street to reach the Kawabata Literature Memorial Hall. Ibaraki City gave Yasunari Kawabata, who was the first Japanese recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the title of "Ibaraki Honorary Citizen" and opened the Kawabata Literature Memorial Hall in 1968. Inside about 400 items are displayed; his portrait, books, mementos, letters, manuscripts, first editions, etc. A unique corner to introduce places connected with him and a model of a house he lived with his grandparents, which uses an electronic panel. You can see how "Diary of a 16-year old" was written. In June, his birth month, "Special Exhibit Commemorating his Birth Month", etc, is held.
|Admission||Free for Ibaraki citizens, Senior high school students and above from out of town ￥200|
7. Former residence of Master Yasunari Kawabata
Go back to the Shiyakushomae Bus stop from the Memorial Hall, 20 minutes by Hankyu Bus. Get off at Shukunosho Bus stop, walk for about 100m northwest to his former residence. Taken in by the grandparents when he was not yet 3 years old, Yasunari lived in his house until he lost his grandfather when he was in the 3rd grade of Osaka Prefectural Ibaraki Middle School (current Prefectural Ibaraki Senior High School). His niece Ms. Tomie Kawabata and her family live there now. Yasunari walked about 6 km to the middle school from this house every day, and used to climb up the pine tree in the yard to read books. We can imagine a lively Yasunari boy.
8. Sumiyoshi Taisha Arched Bridge
A day of visiting places connected with Yasunari Kawabata. Finish up at Sumiyoshi Taisha. Affectionately called "Sumiyossan", and also known as a guardian of the sea. Its symbol is the arched bridge painted vermilion. Yasunari Kawabata described this bridge with its steep arch on the pond as "climbing down is scarier than climbing up" in his novel "Arched Bridge". A stone monument bearing that phrase remains near the bridge. The bridge reflected on the quiet water looks gentle and beautiful. You can surely experience a scene of Japanese beauty Yasunari Kawabata loved.