Poet Takuboku Ishikawa left a great impression on the hearts of many during his short and turbulent life of just 26 years. Monuments to his poems and his preserved works can be found in several places in Kushiro. Let’s take a look back on Takuboku’s life and his connections to Kushiro.
The prodigy Takuboku travels across the sea to Hokkaido
Takuboku was born in 1886 in Iwate Prefecture as the eldest son of the head of a Buddhist temple. He was called a prodigy from a young age, as his grades were always excellent and he graduated from primary school at the top of his class. The famous author Kenji Miyazawa attended the same primary school many years after Takuboku. Takuboku became enthralled with poetry after learning about Kyosuke Kindaichi and encountering literary magazines in secondary school, and as a result his talent blossomed. At the age of 16, Takuboku moved to Tokyo and decided to pursue literature as an occupation, but at the age of 19 he got married and became a substitute teacher at a primary school to take care of his wife and parents. Eventually, he traveled to Hokkaido alone to get a fresh start in a new place, and after living in Hakodate and Sapporo, he came to Kushiro.
Takuboku composes poetry about Kushiro while working at a local newspaper
Takuboku’s first stop in Hokkaido was Hakodate, and he eventually settled in Kushiro after living in various places in the prefecture. He found Kushiro to be surprisingly comfortable after he traveled here. He also frequented restaurants and the red light district in the Yonemachi district, falling in love with a geisha despite being married. Although he enjoyed this life, Takuboku found a renewed interest in Tokyo after facing difficulties with colleagues at work, so after just 76 days he left Kushiro.
Takuboku was actually a freewheeler?
Some of Takuboku’s best known poems include "I slip into the crowd Just to hear the accent Of my faraway home town. " and "However long I work, life remains a trial. I just stare into my palms. " Many of his poems were filled with grief and made the reader think of quiet and lonely scenes. In addition, many people believe that he lived a diligent and lonely life, because he died of tuberculosis at the young age of just 26. However, he spent much time with geisha after borrowing huge sums of money from friends, he abandoned obligations in the middle of work, and cut ties with his greatest benefactors, which indicates he was actually quite the freewheeler. While he was a bit of a nuisance to those around him, the human side of talented Takuboku can also be seen easily.
Traces of Takuboku can be found throughout the city
There are a number of historical monuments to Takuboku across the city in order to pass down his poems about Kushiro. There are 25 monuments located between the Kushiro Station area, where he lived, to the Yonemachi district, which he frequented. It takes about two and a half hours to walk around to each of these monuments as part of the Ishikawa Takuboku literary course. The Kobunkan, a museum located in the restored former Kushiro Newspaper building where Takuboku worked, and the Yonemachi Museum, situated in Kushiro’s oldest wooden home with displays of Takuboku’s rare artifacts, are two must-see spots to learn more about the relationship between Kushiro and Takuboku. Also, on January 21, the day Takuboku first arrived in Kushiro, an event is held called Takuboku Snow Light City Kushiro, during which beautiful ice candles are lit from Nusamai Bridge to Minami Odori Street. As the origin of Kushiro City, Yonemachi offers the vestiges of a bygone era with preserved traditional townscape, which makes any adventure to learn more about Takuboku one filled with nostalgia about the past.
・Yonemachi Furusato Hall：http://en.kushiro-lakeakan.com/things_to_do/2913/
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