Episode 317 – Separate Ways

This week, we explore the career of the first woman to make a big splash in modern Japanese literature: Higuchi Ichiyo. We’ll talk about her story, her writing, her legacy, and her tragically short career — and I’ll spend a lot of time talking about how much I hate Mori Ogai!


Omori, Kyoko, “Higuchi Ichiyo” The Modern Murasaki. Ed., Copeland, Rebecca and Melek Ortabasi.

Tanaka, Hisako. “Higuchi Ichiyo. Monumenta Nipponica 12, no. 3/4 (October 1956-January, 1957)

Mitsutani, Margaret. “Higuchi Ichiyo: A Literature of Her Own.” Comparative Literature Studies 22, No. 1. (Spring, 1985)


Higuchi Ichiyo during the height of her career.
If you’re wondering where Higuchi Ichiyo looks familiar from, it’s because her face is on the 5000 Yen note!
The manuscript of Takekurabe.
To the best of my knowledge, only one of her stories (Takekurabe) has made the jump to film. This is the poster from the 1955 film version.


2 thoughts on “Episode 317 – Separate Ways”

  1. Calling the character a daughter of a “sex worker” isn’t exactly specific. It’s too broad a term. Was she the daughter of a geisha? An oiran? A yuujo? Just say “prostitute.”

    1. I’ve been trying to move away from the term prostitute because it’s so often read as a pejorative, which is not my intention. I know that not everyone feels that way about the term, but I would not want to have anyone read me as condemning someone who is in that industry for whatever reason.
      I would assume she’s a yuujo in the original but I haven’t actually read Takekurabe in the original because my classical Japanese is a bit rusty; Wakaremichi is the only one I’ve had a chance to read in the original language.

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