Muro Saisei is one of Kanazawa's three great writers.
He left behind not only poems, but also lyrical early novels,
Mid-life novels that exposed the bottom rung of society,
And autobiographical essays covering a wide range of topics.
The recurring themes in Saisei's literary world are timeless,
And all generations find they have a mysterious allure.
The lifestyles and philosophies present in his works allow us to reflect upon ourselves,
As his message touches our hearts even in modern times.
You can sense his admiration for the mountains and rivers of his hometown,
And also the love and awe he felt for
The plants, insects, fish, and other tiny, nameless beings
He came across during his youth.
Even if you know nothing about Muro Saisei,
This museum can help you appreciate his life
Through the rich allure of his works
Which are still relevant to us today.
Murō Saisei was born on August 1st, 1889 in
Urasennichi-machi, Kanazawa (now the Sennichi-machi). His father was Kobatake Yoshitane and his mother was a servant of him.
This is why soon after he was born, Saisei was given away to the Uhō-in Temple, where he was raised with three other adopted children. The Murō Saisei Museum is the location of his birth. The Uhō-in Temple, where Saisei was raised, still stands along the shore of Saigawa River, along with the Saigawa Ohashi Bridge.
Akai Hatsu, the woman who became Saisei's surrogate mother at the temple, would often drink, then yell at and harshly scold Saisei, who was a strong-willed boy.
Saisei did not do well in school, got into fights and was often scolded by his teachers. Saisei, who never knew his birthmother, spent a lonely childhood. Amidst this turmoil, Saisei sought comfort in the dense greenery that grew thick in the temple's garden and along the Saigawa River that flowed behind the temple. It was here he played the most. It is likely that this is where Saisei's literary characteristic, his unique keen sensibility regarding the lives of insects, plants, and animals as well as the fragile lives of people came from.
[Encounter with Literature]
Saisei graduated from No-machi Jinjō Elementary School at age 10, and at age 12, he quit the Higher Education Naga-machi Elementary School. He then worked for the Kanazawa District Court for 7 years.
As a teenager, Saisei was very passionate about reading, and began writing haiku at the age of 15, thus revealing his unique ability. He improved rapidly and his works appeared in the local newspapers. Haiku was his door into the literary world.
He also wrote short songs, poems, and short pieces and contributed them to magazines. He polished his writing ability through his contact with literary friends.
When Saisei turned 20, determined to become a writer, he quit his job at the District Court and went to Tokyo.
However, his poems were not readily accepted and his life was hard, so he continued going back and forth between his home town and Tokyo.
During this time, he immersed himself in writing poems, met fellow poets Kitahara Hakushū and Hagiwara Sakutarō, with whom he collaborated and published the Poem Journals Takujō-funsui (Fountain on the Table) and Kanjō (Emotions). It was from these works his name gradually became more well-known.
In 1918, when Saisei was 29, he released Ai no Shishū (Poems About Love) and Jojō Shōkyoku Shū (Brief Lyrics), which were widely acclaimed and became the representative of contemporary lyrical poetry in Japan.
Saisei next took on the challenge of being a novelist. In 1919, he made his debut with 3 works, Yōnen Jidai (Childhood), Sei ni Mezamerukoro (Adolescence), and Aru Shōjo No Shi Made (Until the Girl's Death).
After that, he experienced many ups and downs, but continued writing with a ceaseless desire to create, also publishing Ani Imōto (Brother Sister), Anzukko (Apricot Girl), and Kagerofu no Nikki-ibun (The Remaining Diary of Kagerō) before he passed away in 1962 at age 72.
Murō Saisei wrote over 700 stories, 2000 poems, 1800 haiku, 1400 essays, which have been published in 160 books.
Biography of Muro Saisei
|1889||Age 0||Born on August 1st to Kobatake Yazaemon Yoshitane and a woman called Haru.
Soon after, adopted by Muro Shinjo, the head monk of Uhō-in Temple, and his common-law wife Akai Hatsu, who named him Terumichi.
|1896||Age 7||Becomes Muro Shinjo’s legal heir and takes the name Muro.|
|1902||Age 13||Drops out of Nagamachi Higher Elementary School in May.
Begins working at the Kanazawa district court.
|1906||Age 17||Poem published in Seikyo Shimbun, where he usesg the name “Saisei” for the first time.|
|1907||Age 18||Forms the Hokushin Society of Poets with Oyama Tokujiro and others.|
|1910||Age 21||Moves to Tokyo. Boards with Akakura Yujirou, former superior from the Kanazawa district court.|
|1913||Age 24||Poems become serialized in Zanboa. Receives a letter in late spring from Hagiwara Sakutaro, who has seen his poems. The two form a close friendship.|
|1914||Age 25||Forms The Ningyo(mermaid) Society of Poets with Hagiwara Sakutaro and Yamamura Bocho.|
|1915||Age 26||The Ningyo Society of Poets publishes Takujo Funsui (fountain of the table), but it is discontinued after three issues.|
|1916||Age 27||Forms The Kanjo (emotion) Society of Poets and publishes Kanjo.|
|1917||Age 28||Adoptive father Muro Shinjo passes away in September.|
|1918||Age 29||Self-publishes Poems of Love. Marries Asakawa Tomiko in February.
Publishes Brief Lyrics in September.
|1919||Age 30||First novel, Childhood, serialized in Chuo Koron. Takita Choin, the magazine's chief editor requests Saisei to become a writer. Subsequently, Waking up as an Adolescent (October) and Until the Girl’s Death (November) are published by the same magazine.|
|1921||Age 32||Oldest son, Hyotaro, born in May. Adored by his father but dies the following year. Saisei is profoundly grief-stricken.|
|1923||Age 34||Oldest daughter, Asako, born in August. In September, lives through the Great Kanto Earthquake and returns to Kanazawa with family in October.|
|1927||Age 38||Close friend Akutagawa Ryunosuke commits suicide in July.
His death brings much grief to Saisei.
|1928||Age 39||Stepmother, Hatsu, passes away in April.|
|1935||Age 46||Serialized the previous year, Brother and Sister receives the 1st Literature Round Table Award. Film adaptation released the following year.|
|1942||Age 53||Hagiwara Sakutaro and Sato Sonosuke pass away in May.
Decides to publish a collection of their works.
|1952||Age 63||Writes the school song for the 80th anniversary of his old School, Nomachi Elementary school.|
|1956||Age 67||Apricot Girl serialized in The Tokyo Shimbun starting in November.
Work awarded the 9th Yomiuri Prize for Literature the following year.
Film adaptation produced by Toho.
|1959||Age 70||Wife Tomiko passes away in October.
Legend of the Poets I Loved awarded the 13th Mainichi Publishing Culture Award, and Remaining Diary of Kagero awarded the 12th Noma Prize for Literature.
|1960||Age 71||Muro Saisei Award for Poetry established. Takiguchi Masako becomes first recipient.|
|1961||Age 72||Continues writing even after being hospitalized for lung cancer.|
|1962||Passes away on March 26th.
Ashes buried the following year at Noda Yama Cemetary, Kanazawa.
|2002||Muro Saisei Kinenkan Museum opens on August 1.|
1 Shokei-Ijo Sono-Ni (Tumultuous Thoughts of Home)
I think of my hometown so far away
And lament it in verse
I were downtrodden, a beggar in a foreign land
I shan’t return there
Sobbing with thoughts of my hometown
Alone in the nightfall city
I want to return to the city
I want to return to the city
* translated by David Kracker
ふるさとは遠きにありて思ふもの そして悲しくうたふもの よしや うらぶれて異土の乞食となるとても 帰るところにあるまじや ひとり都のゆふぐれに ふるさとおもひ涙ぐむ そのこころもて 遠きみやこにかへらばや 遠きみやこにかへらばや
2 Saigawa (Sai River)
The majestic river flows
I live its side
I sit on the embankment, grown with
Spring flowers in the spring, summer flowers in the summer
And find the grace and love of tenderhearted books
The river still flows
Pale waves ripple
In the majestic breeze
* translated by David Kracker
うつくしき川は流れたり そのほとりに我は住みぬ 春は春、なつはなつの 花つける堤に座りて こまやけき本のなさけと愛とを知りぬ いまもその川ながれ 美しき微風ととも 蒼き波たたへたり
3 Komoriuta (A Baby-Tending Song)
When snow is falling a baby-tending song is heard.
It has been occurring for a long time.
From the window, from the door,
From the sky,
a baby-tending song is heard.
But I have never had the experience of hearing a baby-tending song.
For me who did not know a person called mother in childhood
the memory of such a song could not be imagined to exist.
on a day when snow is falling it is heard,
a song I have not experienced hearing anywhere is head.
※translation from the "Anthology of Modern Japanese Poetry", 1972
雪がふると子守唄がきこえる これは永い間のわたしのならはしだ。 窓から戸口から 空から 子もりうたがきこえる。 だがわたしは子もりうたを聞いたことがない 母といふものを子供のときにしらないわたしに さういう唄の記憶があらうとは思へない。 だが不思議に 雪のふる日は聴える どこできいたこともない唄がきこえる。
Hours 9:30AM ~ 5:00PM (No admission after 4:30)
New Year’s (Dec 29th ~ Jan 3rd), Exhibition changeovers
|High school age and under||Free|
From JR Kanazawa Station, take the Hokuriku Tetsudo Bus to Katamachi.
The museum is a six minute walk.
Muro Saisei Kinenkan Museum
3-22 Sennichi-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, 921-8023
〒921-8023 石川県金沢市千日町3-22 TEL：(076)245-1108 FAX：(076)245-1205
Copyright© Muro Saisei Kinenkan Museum All Rights Reserved.
Wall of Books
A wall featuring replicas of the first edition books Saisei published in his life, in the order of when published.
Sasei's Life Story
Special exhibits covering a wide range of topics help deepen your understanding of Saisei's World.
Saisei and I
Experience Saisei hands on. View his works on a computer in the Saisei Graffiti Corner, or enjoy making custom postcards featuring Saisei's poems, haiku, and a photo of your choosing. You can also hear the author recite his own poetry and a performance of his school's song.