Wakayama University

Wakayama's Traditional Culture in the Literature of Ariyoshi, Sawako

Ariyoshi, Sawako (1931-1984) is a famous novelist in Japan with numerous literary works on social subjects such as "Fukugo Osen" (pollution), "Kokotsu no Hito" (senior people's nursing), "Hishoku" (racial discrimination). She was deeply interested in history, culture and people's life of Wakayama where she was born. "Ki no Kawa" (The River Ki) and "Hanaoka Seishu no Tsuma" (The Wife of Hanaoka Seishu) are written with such thematic focus. Vividly describing Wakayama's good old traditions, rigid customs and people coping with it, her literature is a great textbook of Japanese society and traditional culture. Why don't you visit the locations of her novels with her books in hand?

"Ki no Kawa" ("The River Ki," English version is available from Ko Dansha International)

Through the lives of three generations of women (Hana, Fumio, and Hana) in the river Ki region, the literature guides readers to a different era of the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa and to revisit the history of modern women. "Fumio" was modeled on Ariyoshi herself. The novel reminds readers of those forgotten superstitious beliefs in the gentle dialect of Wakayama with phrases like, "Marrying to the family from the river downstream to upstream is no good", or "across the river is also bad because the water running in between severs the relationship" and so on.

Breast Mold of the Jison In Miroku Do Temple

"The River Ki" starts with a scene in which a mother takes a daughter to the Jison In Miroku Do Temple of Nyonin Koya (Koya for Women) for prayer just before her marriage. This has long been a place and symbol of folkloric worship for safety and ease of child delivery and the post-partum period, and many people still pay a visit today. (15 min. by walk from Nankai Raiway Line Kudoyama Station)

Breast Mold of the Jison In Miroku Do Temple

Imoseyama/Hebijima

Imoseyama is a historical mountain that is mentioned in a poem of Man Yo Shu or "Anthology of Myriad Leaves". (located at Katsuragi-Cho Kasada) It also appears in "The River Ki". Its character, Hana, remembers during her marriage procession what her mother once said about the mountain:
"In the river Ki, this side is a woman and the other side is a man. Marrying to the family at the side of Seyama (Se Mountain, man's side) from the side of Imoyama (Imo Mountain, woman's side), will cause a problem". (5 min. from JR Wakayama Railway Line Nishi Kasada Station, near the Road Station of the National Road 24)

Imoseyama/Hebijima

Imoseyama/Hebijima

Oku Ke Monzen (Gate of The Oku Family Residence)

This is the gate of the Oku Family Clinic in Kinokawa City (old Momoyama Township), and the house became the location of a movie "Ki no Kawa" (The Ki River), for a residence of the main character. Originally it served as a base of the medieval landlord family. Today, it still preserves the appearance of a typical house of the warrior class of the era. Not open to the public.

Oku Ke Monzen (Gate of The Oku Family Residence)

Old Wakayama Prefectural Assembly Capitol

"The Ki River" has another character, Matani, Keisaku, who is modeled on a grandfather of the author, Ariyoshi, for Matani was a Prefectural Assembly Member, and later on became a Member of Parliament. The old Wakayama Prefectural Assembly Capitol building was constructed in 1896 and had been used for 40 years through each era of the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa. Currently the building is no longer in use for the original purpose, and has been moved to the property of the Negoro Temple for display.

Old Wakayama Prefectural Assembly Capitol

Literature "Wife of Hanaoka, Seishu"

Hanaoka, Seishu was a doctor who successfully completed a surgery with the first use of general anesthesia ever in the world. His mother and wife voluntarily participated to his clinical experiment. This story has often been mentioned in the context of the traditional virtue of women. This biographical novel of Seishu written by Ariyoshi became a best seller for describing the conflict between mother and daughter-in-law competing for the affection of the man. Through the success of the novel, Seishu's medical accomplishment became widely recognized.

Literature Wife of Hanaoka, Seishu

Shunrinken/Seishu's Recreated Hometown

Seishu's Recreated Hometown is an outdoor museum that was constructed utilizing clues from very few remains found in the area. Shunrinken used to be Seishu's hospital, but today a similar building was built in the museum property for displaying Seishu's personal belongings. There is also a restaurant, a herb garden and a field. (20 min. by walk from JR Wakayama Railway Line Nate Station, but due to infrequent public bus services, a shuttle bus is available)

Shunrinken/Seishu's Recreated Hometown

Ariyoshi, Sawako Monument

Ariyoshi passed away suddenly at her residence in Horinouchi Suginami-ku Tokyo in 1984. A monument was created at the Niccho Do of the neighborhood temple, Myoshinji. (15 min. by walk from Marunouchi Subway Line Shin Koenji Station)

Ariyoshi, Sawako Monument

 

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