Ueda Akinari (上田秋成)

Akinari UEDA (July 25, 1734 - August 8, 1809) was a writer of yomihon (books), a poet, an expert in the tea ceremony, a scholar of Japanese classics and a haiku poet in the late Edo period. He is particularly well known as the author of 'Ugetsu Monogatari' (Tales of Moon and Rain), a tale of the supernatural.

He was born in 1734 at Sonezaki in Osaka, as an illegitimate son of Osaki MATSUO. His father's identity isn't known. I don't have no father and don't know why; my mother left me when I was four' (Jizokyoki (text described Akinari UEDA's life by himself on the top board of the wooden box), 1808).

He was adopted in 1737 at four years of age by Mosuke UEDA, who ran an oil and paper merchant business called Shimaya at Eramachi in Dojima (the present-day 1-chome Dojima, Kita Ward, Osaka City), and was called Senjiro. The following year, he suffered from smallpox and consequently lost the use of his fingers. In the same year, Mosuke lost his wife, and married again the next year, so Akinari was brought up by this second adoptive mother.

When he got smallpox, Mosuke went to Kashima Inari Shrine (the present-day Kaguwashi-jinja shrine) at Kashima village (the present-day Kashima, Yodogawa Ward, Osaka City) to pray for his complete recovery from the illness, and Mosuke received a divine message that Akinari would live until 68, and after that Akinari was also taken to visits to the shrine.

In 1751, at age 18, he began to indulge in debauchery, but on the other hand, he strengthened the foundations of his studies, enthusiastically learning haikai (playful linked verse), reading gesaku (plays), and exploring the Japanese and Chinese classics. The teachers and friends who inspired him were Kikei TAKAI, Shigeie KOJIMA, Nariakira FUJITANI, Seigyo KATSUBE and so on.

His haiku pen name was 'Gyoen,' but he also used different names such as Mucho, Sanyosai (三余斎), Yosai, Uzura no okina (鶉翁), Uzurai, and as a gesaku writer he called himself Wayaku Taro, Senshi Kijin or Rakugai Hankyojin.

Mucho' means a crab.
Although he had many friends and treated his teachers with due honor, he insinuated his stubbornness and obstinacy in the name, saying 'the inside is tender, but the outside is tough' and 'walks sideways in the world.'

Senshi Kijin' can be taken as being sensitive about his fingers, which he could not move freely.

In 1760, at 27 years of age, he married Tama UEYAMA, who was born in Kyoto. Their marriage produced no children. The following year, Mosuke passed away, and Akinari became the head of Shimaya. In 1764, at Osaka, he joined a group meeting of the Chosen Tsushinshi (the Korean Emissary) in which they communicated by writing. He was also familiar with the study of Chinese classics.

In 1766, at age 33, he published 'Shodo Kikimimi Sekenzaru' (monkey who hears various things) of Ukiyozoshi (Literally, Books of the Floating World). He studied under Miki KATO, a scholar of Japanese classics who belonged to the school of KAMO no Mabuchi. In 1767, he published 'Seken Tekake Katagi' (Characters of Worldly Mistresses). Around this time, he was taught Hakuwa Shosetsu (Chinese novel) by Teisho TSUGA, a Confucian doctor at Tenma.
In 1768, he completed the first draft of 'Ugetsu Monogatari.'

In 1771, at 38 years of age, the Shimaya was ruined in a fire, so he temporarily lived in the residence of a Shinto priest in Kashima Inari Shrine, and studied medicine with help of his friend, Kenkado KIMURA. His teacher is said to have been Teisho TSUGA. In 1773, he began working as a doctor in the village of Kashima. He was commonly known by the name 'Tosaku,' and he used 'Akinari' for his first name. It was around this time that he came to know Buson YOSA and Kito TAKAI, a son of Kikei TAKAI.

In 1776, at age 43, he moved to Amagasaki in Osaka (near the present-day Korai-bashi Bridge in Chuo Ward, Osaka City) and resumed his medical practice. Ugetsu Monogatari' was published. In 1779, he completed drafts of 'Nubatama no maki' (Black-Jewel Scroll), a commentary on 'Genji Monogatari' (The Tale of Genji), and other works. In 1780, he bought a house at Kiricho in Awaji machi (the present-day 1-chome Awaji machi, Chuo Ward, Osaka City), and the following year he took up residence after rebuilding it. Around this time, he formed close friendships with Hansai HOSOAI and Nagayasu EDA.

In 1784, at 51 years of age, he wrote a draft of 'Kanno Wano Nano Kokuo Kinin ko (A Study of the Golden Seal of the King of Japan, Chinese Colony),' and in 1785 he wrote a draft of 'Kaseiden' (a study of Manyo shu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves)). He edited 'Kokin Wakashu Uchigigi (An Annotation of the Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry,' from the lectures of KAMO no Mabuchi. In 1786, he argued his opinions on ideology, phonology and the rules for the use of kana (the Japanese syllabary) with Norinaga MOTOORI.

In 1787, at age 54, he retired to Awajisho Village (淡路庄村) at the northern edge of Osaka (near the present-day Awaji Station of the Hankyu Railway). He published a play entitled 'Kakizome Kigen Kai (New Year's Calligraphy and a Sea of Changing Feelings)' as well as 'Yakanasho' (the grammar of haikai).

In 1789, at age 56, he attended the deathbeds of his mother-in-law and his second adoptive mother at Awajisho Village. In 1790, he lost sight in his left eye. His wife became a nun and called herself, Korenni.
In 1791, he wrote a draft of 'Kuse Monogatari' (a collection of essays), and collated and published Mabuchi's 'A Collection of Poems by Agatai (Mabuchi)' and Umaki's 'A Collection of Poems by Shizuya.'
In 1792, the draft of 'Yasumigoto' (essays in criticism) was written.

In 1793, at age 60, he moved to Fukuro-cho in the capital (the present-day Fukuro-cho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City). He collated and published 'Isemonogatarikoi (A Commentary on the Tales of Ise),' which had been lectured by Mabuchi. Subsequently, he published 'Seifu Sagen' (a book on sajicha, the spoon tea ceremony) in 1794 and 'Reigotsu' (a study of the use of kana) in 1797 while moving house in locations such as the precincts of Nanzen-ji Temple (Sakyo Ward), Higashi no Toin Shijo (Shimogyo Ward) and Koromo no Tana Marutamachi (Kamigyo Ward) to Fukuro-cho. In this year, his wife died. Collating was a means of livelihood.

In 1798, at age 65, he went blind in his right eye as well, but Ryojun TANIKAWA, an acupuncturist living in Osaka, treated him and his eye got a little bit better. Consequently, he made frequent visits to him for medical treatment. After he returned to the capital, he moved to the residence of Nobuyoshi HAKURA, one of his disciples, at Marutamachi (Hirokoji Teramachi-dori Street, Kamigyo Ward). Nobuyoshi was a Shinto priest of Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. In 1799, 'Ochikubo Monogatari' (The Tale of Ochikubo) was published.

During his stay in Kyoto, he kept company with Cloistered Imperial Prince Kanin no Miya Masahito, Kinnori OGIMACHISANJO, Roan OZAWA, Kenkado KIMURA, Kokei BAN, Kotei MURASE, Dohachi TAKAHASHI the First, Nanbo OTA in Edo, and so on.

In 1801, at age 68, the age that Kashima Inari Shrine had once predicted he would live to, he compiled 'Kenshin Wakacho,' a collection of poetry that totaled 68 poems, and dedicated it to the shrine. Kanjizokucho' (a study of Manyoshu) was published. In 1802, he built his own tomb at Saifuku-ji Temple (Nanzenji kusagawa-cho, Sakyo Ward). In 1803, he collated 'Yamato Monogatari' (Tales of Yamato). A banquet to celebrate his seventieth birthday was held at Osaka. Around this time, he wrote a draft of 'Odaegoto' (a study of ancient history).

In 1804, at age 71, he wrote drafts of 'Koganeisago' (or Kinsa, a commentary on Manyoshu) and 'Kinsa Jogen' (Additional documents of Kinsa); and the following year, 1805, he wrote a draft of 'The 72 Divisions of the Solar Year.'
He moved to Saifuku-ji Temple. Tsuzurabumi' (a collection of poetry and prose) was published. In 1806, a draft of 'Masurao Monogatari' (A Tale of a Man of Valour) was written. In 1807, he threw the draft into the old well. In 1808, a draft of 'Harusame Monogatari' (a collection of short stories) was written. Fumihougu' (a collection of letters) was published. Drafts of 'Tandai Shoshinroku' (a collection of essays), 'Jizokyoki' and others were written.

In 1809, at age 76, he was admitted to the Hakura's residence. He finished writing the draft of 'Ihon Tandai Shoshinroku' (a variant of Tandai Shoshinroku). Then he edited 'Haicho giron' (Commentary on Haikai (seventeen-syllable verse)). On June 27, he passed away at the residence and was buried in the premises of Saifuku-ji Temple.
His posthumous name was 'Sanyo Mucho Koji.'
In 1821, a tombstone was built for the twelfth anniversary of his death, and it remains today. There is another tombstone at Kaguwashi-jinja Shrine.

His contemporary writers of yomihon in Edo were Bakin KYOKUTEI and Kyoden SANTO.

[Original Japanese]