糸瓜咲て痰のつまりし仏かな 子規   Loofahs bloom, Phlegm sticks in the throat, Almost dead man   Shiki

Loofahs in front of the house remind us of Shiki's death poem.
Shiki Masaoka (Courtesy of the National Diet Library)

 
  Shiki Masaoka (real name: Tsunenori, 1867-1902) was a haiku and tanka poet and a researcher of Japanese linguistics, who lived in the Keio and Meiji Periods. He was a pioneer who paved a pathway to Japanese modern literature, being involved in a wide range of fields, including haiku and tanka poems, essays, novels, new-style poems, and Chinese poems. He compared himself to a little cuckoo, which is said to cough up blood when it sings because its mouth is red, and took the pseudonym Shiki (a Chinese name for little cuckoos). He contributed significantly to Japanese modern literature by starting "Hototogisu," a haiku poem magazine, in 1897, composing poems, trying to reform tanka poems, and writing essays, as well as studying precursors, such as Buson Yosa, while working as a newspaper journalist.
  Shikian is his former residence where he lived with Yae, his mother, and Ritsu, his sister, and died at the age of 34 and 11 months. Although a rented house (a secondary dwelling of the Maeda family in the former Kaga domain) which he moved in February 1894 was destroyed by an air raid during the Second World War, it was reconstructed and brought back to its almost original state in 1950 through efforts of Sokotsu Samukawa and others. (2-5-11 Negishi, Taito City)

 
 

  Shikian is located at 2-chome, Negishi, just off an area overcrowded with buildings and hotels, five minutes walk from the north entrance of the JR Uguisudani Station. Shiki moved to this house in 1894, and lived in it until he died of illness on September 19, 1902. He also called himself "Dassai Sho-oku Shujin" or "Take no Satobito." After Shiki died, Ritsu, his sister, succeeded to the property and lived with Yae, her mother. After Ritsu died in 1941, Sokotsu Samukawa, Shiki's disciple, continued to protect Shikian. It was reconstructed in 1950, and officially designated as a historical site in Tokyo in 1952. Now, its ground area has nearly doubled (405.6 square meters) compared to the original one. A former residence of Fusetsu Nakamura (Calligraphy Museum), who was a Western-style painter, a calligrapher and a friend of Shiki since Fusetsu met Shiki in 1894, and provided illustrations to the newspaper "Sho Nippon," is located across the street. Fusetsu gave watercolors to Shiki in 1899 when Fusetsu heard that Shiki wanted to paint colored pictures. Shiki used those watercolors to create paintings, such as "Kudamono-cho" and "Kusabana-cho," until just before his death.

 
 
 
 
Shiki Koji Jiga Shozo (1900, Courtesy of the National Diet Library)
  

The monument engraved with a haiku "Harukaze ya, Mari wo Nagetaki, Kusa no Hara," which is erected at Shiki Masaoka Memorial Ballpark, Ueno Imperial Gift Park, remind us of Shiki who was ready to throw a ball.


A trellis of well grown, lush loofahs can still be seen through a glass door of the six-tatami-mat room in which Shiki was on his sickbed.

  Shiki (Tsunenori) Masaoka was born in 1867 as the eldest son of Tsunenao Masaoka, a clansman of the Matsuyama domain, in Fujiwara Shinmachi, Onsen-gun, Iyo no Kuni (present-day Hanazono-machi, Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture). Yae, his mother, was the eldest daughter of Kanzan Ohara, a Confucianist in the Matsuyama domain and a professor at Meikyokan, a domain school. After Shiki's father died in 1872, he succeeded to the house, and grew up while being under the guardianship of Tsunetada Kato and Tsunenori Ohara, his uncles.
  Although he entered Matsuyama Junior High School under the prewar education system (present-day Matsuyama Higashi High School) in 1880, he left the school in 1883, went to Tokyo, and studied at Kyoryu Gakko (Kaisei Senior High School) in order to take entrance examinations. He entered the Preparatory School of the University of Tokyo (later it was renamed First Higher School, Japan (present-day College of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo) in 1884. When he returned home at the age of 18 during summer in 1885, he met Masao Ide and studied tanka poems through an introduction of Saneyuki Akiyama, his junior by one year at Matsuyama Junior High School. That year, he also started to compose haiku poems. Spurred on by Shiki who went to Tokyo, Saneyuki Akiyama left Matsuyama Junior High School and entered the Preparatory School of the University of Tokyo in the same year. Later, Saneyuki entered the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy for financial reasons after graduating from the Preparatory School, and took a lively part as a vice admiral in the Russo-Japanese War. Although Saneyuki walked a different path from Shiki, he was a lifelong friend of Shiki.
 


Shiki when he was in First Higher School, Japan (20 years old, a material deposited from Shikian)

 
  In the summer of 1888, Shiki lodged a room on the second floor of Yamamotoya, a cherry-leaf rice cake store, located in the precincts of Chomei-ji Temple in Mukojima, and named the room "Gekkoro." When he, as a young lover of literature, composed "Nanakusa-shu," a series of poems, in the room, a rumor was around that he fell in love with a daughter of the rice cake store. In January 1889, he started to keep company with Soseki Natsume, his classmate. Soseki, who was born on February 9, 1867 at Ushigome Babashita Yokomachi, Edo (present-day Kikui-cho, Shinjuku City), and Shiki, who was born on October 14, made a lifelong friendship. Shiki suddenly coughed up a lot of blood at the boarding in May of that year, and was diagnosed as tuberculosis of the lungs. That night he composed 40-50 poems, including "Unohana wo Megaketekitaka Hototogisu" and "Unohana no Chirumade Nakuka Shiki," which were titled "Hototogisu," and gave himself the pseudonym "Shiki." His fight against the illness began. Soseki got worried and, together with several friends, visited ailing Shiki, and then went straight to a doctor. Soseki wrote the first letter to Shiki, saying that Shiki should give up the unhelpful doctor, consult another doctor at the university hospital, and be hospitalized as early as possible for the sake of his mother and the nation. Soseki added the following encouragement and haiku poems at the end of the letter.
 
  to live is the sole end of man!
      May 13
      Do not go home, Do not cry, and laugh, A little cuckoo
      When one tries to listen, Wait for nobody, A little cuckoo
                                                                      Kinnosuke
      Master Masaoka
      Goyu (Note: a term of respect added beside the name of the addressee)
("Soseki/Shiki Ofuku Shokan-shu," or collection of letters exchanged between Soseki and Shiki, edited by Shigeki Wada: Iwanami Library)
 
  Shiki entered the philosophy department, Imperial University in 1890 (he later transferred to the Japanese literature department). He traveled the Boso Peninsula in March 1891, and wrote "Kakuremino," a travel writing. In May of the same year, he met Hekigoto Kawahigashi, started to correspond with Kyoshi Takahama, a classmate of Hekigoto, and taught haiku poems to them. Later, Hekigoto and Kyoshi were called the twin master poets among Shiki's pupils.
  In June 1892, Shiki failed a final examination, and decided to leave the school without taking a supplementary examination (He left the school in May 1893). He had Yae, his mother, and Ritsu, his sister, come to Tokyo in November, and joined Nippon, a newspaper. His family of three lived in a house (care of Tsuru Kanai) at 88 Kaminegishi, adjacent to the west of Katsunan Kuga's house, who was the owner of the newspaper. In 1893, after joining the staff of the newspaper, Shiki actively embarked on popularizing haiku poems by setting up a haiku section in the newspaper "Nippon" and on expanding a literary section. He traveled the Tohoku region in July, and wrote a serial "Hate Shirazu no Ki" in "Nippon." In February 1894, he moved to a rented house of the Maeda family at 82 Kaminegishi (adjacent to the east of Katsunan Kuga's house), which is the current Shikian.
 

 
Shiki wearing a baseball uniform (22 years old, a material deposited from Shikian)

 
  Shiki was keen on baseball until about 1886-1890. He used to play baseball games at a vacant ground next to the Ueno Park museums. "Shiki Masaoka Memorial Ballpark, Ueno Imperial Gift Park," in which a variety of sports, such as sandlot baseball, can be played, was made in July 2006, commemorating the site where Shiki enjoyed playing baseball with his friends living in boarding houses. By the way, a relief of Shiki's profile, who entered the Baseball Hall of Fame, is displayed at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Tokyo Dome, and his nine tanka poems about baseball are also written in a testimonial that publicly honors his achievement.

Shiki's study and sickroom where he died
Shiki's self-portrait (reproduction) is displayed in a six-tatami-mat room in which he was ill in bed for a long time and produced many works. A trellis of loofahs and flowering plants of the seasons can be seen through the glass door.
 

Shiki's reading desk, reproduced in 2003. Original one is stored in a library of Shikian.

Shiki wrote "an unskillful joiner made a desk with holes last year (1890)" in his essay "Shajo no Shunko." It seems that he drew up his left knee, which could not be straighten due to spinal caries, and inserted the knee to the cut out portion of the desk, making his body stable. Sliding rice-paper doors were replaced with glass doors in December 1890, allowing sunlight to enter the room.

Shiki was ill in bed. Taken in 1900
 

病む我を写す写真に床の辺の瓶にさしたる桜写りぬ 子規
In a picture in which I am ill in bed, cherry blossoms put in a vase on the floor appears   Shiki

The room arrangement and the small garden when Shiki was alive

There was a neighboring house on the left side of the entrance. There was a Yotsumegaki fence on the east side of the small garden facing the neighboring house, a blackboard fence on the west side, and a Kenninji fence and a back gate on the south side. Shiki wrote about this small garden in 1898: "Roses planted at the fence of my garden shot forth buds, and summer has come."

A quail cage is hung at the eaves to the left of Shiki. (Taken in 1899, Courtesy of the Shiki Museum)

Gojoten Shrine (4-17 Uenokoen, Taito City)

There are many stone monuments engraved with haiku poems by Shiki throughout the country, including those in Taito City.
 

みちのくへ涼みに行くや下駄はいて 子規 (明治26年(1893))
To Tohoku, Go to avoid the heat, Wearing a pair of clogs   Shiki

秋風や旅の浮世の果知らず 子規 (明治26年(1893)) 

A autumn breeze, A transient life on travel, Nobody knows the end   Shiki

Shitaya Shrine (3-29-8 Higashi Ueno, Taito City)

Karaku Sanshotei the First carried out 5-day vaudeville performances in June 1798 at the precincts of Shitaya Shrine (Shitaya Inari Shrine). Although there had been rakugo (comic storytelling) before, it was the first time for ordinary people gathered and listened to rakugo. Therefore, Shitaya Shrine is said to be the birthplace of vaudeville performances. Shiki frequented vaudeville performances. His friendship with Soseki stemmed from their hobby of seeing vaudeville performances.
 

寄席はねて上野の鐘の夜長哉 子規 (明治29年(1896))
Vaudeville ends, Bell of Ueno, Night is long   Shiki

Motomishima Shrine (1-7-11 Negishi, Taito City)

A haiku poem that Shiki composed when he visited Chu Asai's house behind Motomishima Shrine

 

木槿咲て繪師の家問ふ三嶋前 子規 (明治30年(1897))
Roses of Sharon bloom, Asking about the painter's house, In front of Mishima   Shiki 

Negishi Elementary School (3-9-8 Negishi, Taito City)

The Negishi area was called "Negishi no Sato," or Negishi village, at that time, and had rice fields and vegetable fields, in which writers and artists lived. The area was also called "Uguisu no Sato," or village of Japanese bush warblers, because many Japanese bush warblers inhabited around the area. Now, Negishi Elementary School stands in the area.
 

雀より鶯多き根岸哉 子規 (明治26年(1893))
The number of Japanese bush warblers is larger than that of tree sparrows, It's Negishi   Shiki

 
  
There are 15 stone monuments for Shiki in Taito City.
Shiki Masaoka (Courtesy of the National Diet Library)

 
  Shiki Masaoka (real name: Tsunenori, 1867-1902) was a haiku and tanka poet and a researcher of Japanese linguistics, who lived in the Keio and Meiji Periods. He was a pioneer who paved a pathway to Japanese modern literature, being involved in a wide range of fields, including haiku and tanka poems, essays, novels, new-style poems, and Chinese poems. He compared himself to a little cuckoo, which is said to cough up blood when it sings because its mouth is red, and took the pseudonym Shiki (a Chinese name for little cuckoos). He contributed significantly to Japanese modern literature by starting "Hototogisu," a haiku poem magazine, in 1897, composing poems, trying to reform tanka poems, and writing essays, as well as studying precursors, such as Buson Yosa, while working as a newspaper journalist.
  Shikian is his former residence where he lived with Yae, his mother, and Ritsu, his sister, and died at the age of 34 and 11 months. Although a rented house (a secondary dwelling of the Maeda family in the former Kaga domain) which he moved in February 1894 was destroyed by an air raid during the Second World War, it was reconstructed and brought back to its almost original state in 1950 through efforts of Sokotsu Samukawa and others. (2-5-11 Negishi, Taito City)

 
 
 

  Shikian is located at 2-chome, Negishi, just off an area overcrowded with buildings and hotels, five minutes walk from the north entrance of the JR Uguisudani Station. Shiki moved to this house in 1894, and lived in it until he died of illness on September 19, 1902. He also called himself "Dassai Sho-oku Shujin" or "Take no Satobito." After Shiki died, Ritsu, his sister, succeeded to the property and lived with Yae, her mother. After Ritsu died in 1941, Sokotsu Samukawa, Shiki's disciple, continued to protect Shikian. It was reconstructed in 1950, and officially designated as a historical site in Tokyo in 1952. Now, its ground area has nearly doubled (405.6 square meters) compared to the original one. A former residence of Fusetsu Nakamura (Calligraphy Museum), who was a Western-style painter, a calligrapher and a friend of Shiki since Fusetsu met Shiki in 1894, and provided illustrations to the newspaper "Sho Nippon," is located across the street. Fusetsu gave watercolors to Shiki in 1899 when Fusetsu heard that Shiki wanted to paint colored pictures. Shiki used those watercolors to create paintings, such as "Kudamono-cho" and "Kusabana-cho," until just before his death.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The monument engraved with a haiku "Harukaze ya, Mari wo Nagetaki, Kusa no Hara," which is erected at Shiki Masaoka Memorial Ballpark, Ueno Imperial Gift Park, remind us of Shiki who was ready to throw a ball.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Shiki Koji Jiga Shozo (1900, Courtesy of the National Diet Library)