Ozaki Koyo (尾崎紅葉)

Koyo OZAKI (January 10, 1868 - October 30, 1903) was a Japanese novelist. His real name was Tokutaro.
He also had pen names such as 'Enzan', 'Hankatsujin', and 'Tochimando.'
He was born in Edo. He dropped out of the department of Japanese literature, Tokyo Imperial University.

In 1885, he founded Kenyusha with Bimyo YAMADA and others and published 'Garakuta Bunko' (Library of Mixtures). His novel "Ninin bikuni irozange" (Amorous Confessions of Two Nuns) was well received, followed by "Kyara makura" (Pillow of Aloe) and "Tajo takon" (Full of Love, Full of Regret), and these works made Ozaki a prominent figure in literary circles during the Meiji Period equal in importance to Rohan KODA. He started writing "Konjiki Yasha" (The golden demon) in 1897 but died leaving it unfinished. He had many excellent disciples such as Kyoka IZUMI, Fuyo OGURI, Shunyo YANAGAWA, and Shusei TOKUDA.

As a haiku poet, he founded Shuseikai with Chikurei KAKUTA and others, that was regarded as a new school of haiku poets along with Shiki MASAOKA.

Koyo was born on January 10, 1868 in Shibachumonmaecho (present-day Hamamatsucho), Edo (Tokyo). His father was a netsuke (miniature carving attached to the end of a cord hanging from a pouch) artisan Kokusai (Sozo) OZAKI and his mother was Yo. It is assumed that the Ozaki family used to be a house of merchants named Iseya, but it seems that Iseya had already been out of business by the time of the Sozo generation. Some said that Iseya was a kimono fabric shop while others said that it was a rice warehouse merchant, but the actual fact is unknown. In 1872, Koyo lost his mother at the age of four and was brought up by his maternal grandparents, Shunan and Sen ARAKI. After graduating from terakoya (a private elementary school during the Edo period) called Baisendo (Baisen Primary School, later Sakuragawa elementary school, and the present-day Onarimon elementary school in Minato Ward), Koyo went to Tokyofu Daini Junior High School (soon became Tokyofu Junior High School after merging with Tokyofu Dainichi Junior High School; present-day Hibiya High School, Tokyo). Koyo was a member of the inaugural class together with Rohan KODA, Masataro SAWAYANAGI, and Kokichi KANO, but later Koyo dropped out of the school. He learned Sinology at Senjin OKA's Suiyudo and Chinese prose and poetry at Kosai ISHIKAWA's Subunkan in addition to English at Mita English School with the aim of entering Daiichi High School (the first old-education-system high school).

Koyo's school expenses were paid by the Yokoo family which had a deep relationship with his maternal relatives, the Araki family. When Koyo made a trip to Sado in 1899, he visited Niigata to see his uncle Yokoo (his mother Yo's elder sister's husband) who was a bureaucrat at the Ministry of the Treasury and the superintendent of a tax office in Niigata at that time. Koyo's third daughter Michiyo was adopted by the Araki family (his mother Yo's elder brother) and later married Iwao, an adopted son of uncle Yokoo. Iwao's natural father (elder brother of foster father) was a bureaucrat at the Ministry of Interior but died young when he was the chief of Ano county (Shimane Prefecture). Iwao's younger brother Yasuo, became a professor of Faculty of Medicine, Tokyo Imperial University.

In 1883 Koyo entered Daiichi High School; by that time, however, he was absorbed in writing poems under the penname of Enzan and after entering high school he participated in literary groups such as Bunyukai and Totsutostukai to deepen his interest in literature. In 1885, he founded Kenyusha with Bimyo YAMADA, Shian ISHIBASHI, Kyuka MARUOKA and others, and published a magazine for circulating "Garakuta Bunko" (Library of Mixtures). At first the magazine was made and copied in handwriting, but later printed with type as it became popular. In 1888, "Garakuta Bunko" went on the market and Koyo ran a serialized novel 'Furyu Kyo ningyo' (The Elegant Kyoto Doll) that attracted much attention. In the same year, however, Bimyo was appointed to the chief editor of a new magazine "Miyako no hana" and severed his relations with Koyo.

In 1889, the publisher of 'Garakuta Bunko' Yoshioka Shoten started a new series of newly-written novels. As the first book of the series called 'Shincho Hyakushu,' Koyo's "Ninin bikuni irozange" (Amorous Confessions of Two Nuns) was published. The story situated during the Sengoku period (period of warring states) with two women who were mourning for young warriors that died in battle happened to meet each other, and its gazoku-setchu style, i.e. the mixture of dialogue in common language and narrative in elegant literary style received favorable reviews as the symbol of new style of contemporary literature, so Koyo suddenly became famous as a popular writer. At that time, he was absorbed in reading Saikaku IHARA's works that encouraged his inclination to pseudoclassicism in addition to realism.

At the same time, due to educational system reform of the Preparatory School of the University of Tokyo (Tokyo Yobimon), he was transferred to Daiichi Koto Chugakko (First High School) School of English Politics in 1886. In 1888 he entered the Imperial University School of Law the department of Politics; in 1889 he transferred to the department of Japanese literature; in the following year, he dropped out of the school. At the end of the previous year, he joined the Yomiuri Shimbun (a daily newspaper) while attending the university; since then, the newspaper was his primary medium for publishing his works. His novels such as 'Kyara makura' and 'Sanninzuma' (Three Wives) appeared in the newspaper and gained high popularity. He also published 'Futari Nyobo' (Two Wives) in which he tried the vernacular style with 'dearu' ending of sentences from the middle of the story, and these achievements made him one of the leaders of literary circles during the Meiji Period along with Rohan KODA, so, this period was called Ko-Ro Jidai (the era of Koyo and Rohan).

In 1895, he read "Genji Monogatari" (The Tale of Genji) and under the influence of this tale he wrote novels focusing on psychological descriptions such as "Tajo Takon." Finally in 1897, a serialized novel 'Konjiki Yasha' started appearing in the Yomiuri Shimbun. The story of money and love between Kanichi and Omiya matched the social background after the Japanese-Sino War and gained wide spread popularity. The story appeared in the newspaper intermittently, but Koyo's health deteriorated because of this long serialized novel, and in 1899 he became ill. He went to Shiobara or Shuzenji for medical treatment and began writing the sequel "Konjiki Yasha" in 1903 (published as "Zoku Zoku, or continued continuation, Konjiki Yasha") but this serialized novel was suspended in March when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. On October 30, he died in his own house. Koyo's grave is in Aoyama-bochi Cemetery and his tomb is inscribed with brush style writing by Ichiroku IWAYA, one of the three greatest calligraphers during the Meiji Period who was the father of Sazanami IWAYA, Koyo's best friend and a member of Kenyusha.

The Iwaya family came from the clan of doctors served the Minakuchi Domain, Omi Province (Koga City, Shiga Prefecture) but it is still unknown whether the relationship between the Ozaki/Yokoo family and Iwaya family for generations started from the natural father of Iwao Yokoo who was the chief of Ano county.

Reputation as a novelist
Koyo's novels were favorably received by the public for their elegant style and valued by those who were critical of Europeanism for the skillful descriptions of customs and manners that reminded them of Saikaku IHARA.
On the other hand, some critics such as Tokoku KITAMURA criticized Koyo's old-fashioned view of women that was found in 'Kyara makura.'
Doppo KUNIKIDA said the first half of Koyo's career could be described as 'literature from the Genroku era (during the Edo Period) in European style.'
In rivalry with Bimyo YAMADA's 'desu-masu' vernacular style, Koyo attempted to use the 'dearu' style, but this style didn't become the mainstream part of his works. In his masterpiece in his later years "Tajo Takon," he had achieved success in psychological description in a vernacular style.

Koyo had a high level of proficiency in English; there was a story that when Roan UCHIDA's Maruzen Company started selling the Encyclopedia "Britannica", Koyo was one of the first three buyers. With such proficiency in English, He read a huge amount of English popular fiction and the framework of many of his novels were adopted from these English novels. Keiko HORI pointed out that Koyo modeled his work in his later years "Konjiki Yasha" on "Weaker Than a Woman" by Bertha M. Clay.

Chronological list of main events
* Dates are according to the old lunar calendar up to 1871.

Born in Shiba, Edo in December 16, 1867 (the old calendar).

In September 1883, entered Daiichi High School (the first old-education-system high school)

In 1885

In February, formed Kenyusha.

In May, published 'Garakuta Bunko.'

In April 1887, worked part time as a teacher of Chinese classics at Tokyo Girls Vocational School.

In 1889

In April, published "Ninin bikuni irozange."

In December joined the Yomiuri Shimbun.

In 1890, dropped out of Tokyo Imperial University.

On March 10, 1891, married Kiku Kabashima.

In March 1892, the serialized novel 'Sanninzuma' appeared in the "Yomiuri Shimbun."

In 1893

On January 10, the first son Yuminosuke was born (who died young).

In June, a serialized novel 'Kokoro no yami' appeared in the "Yomiuri Shimbun."

In 1894

On February 3, his first daughter Fujie was born.

On February 21, his father Sozo died.

In 1896

In February, a serialized novel 'Tajo Takon' appeared in the "Yomiuri Shimbun."

On March 10, the second daughter Yayoi was born.

In January 1897, the serialized novel 'Konjiki Yasha' appeared in the "Yomiuri Shimbun."

In 1899, his health deteriorated. He went to Shiobara in June and Niigata from July to August.

On March 26, 1900, his third daughter Michiyo was born.

In 1901

In May, went to Shuzenji for medical treatment.

On May 20, his second son Natsuhiko was born.

In 1902, resigned from the Yomiuri Shimbun and joined the Nirokushimpo.

On October 30, 1903, died in his own house in Yokoicho, Ushigome.

He had many disciples while he was still in his twenties. Among them, Kyoka IZUMI, Shusei TOKUDA, Fuyo OGURI, and Shunyo YANAGAWA were referred to as the Shitenno (the four heavenly kings). It was Koyo's personal magnetism that enabled him to gather together those disciples with different character. This charisma made Koyo an outstanding figure among his contemporary authors.

Main works
Konjiki Yasha (The golden demon)
Kyara makura (Pillow of Aloe)
Ninin bikuni irozange (Amorous Confessions of Two Nuns)
Sanninzuma (Three Wives)
Futari Nyobo (Two Wives)
Iwazu katarazu
Tajo takon (Full of Love, Full of Regret)
Aobudo (Green Grapes)
Kokoro no yami
The Kreutzer Sonata (by Tolstoy, co-translated by Masutaro KONISHI)


A long-established confectionery in Shibashinmei Eitaro's famous sweet 'Enoshima' monaka (bean-jam-filled wafers) was named by Koyo in February 1902 and he allowed the shop to use his handwriting on the package with an illustration by Keishu TAKEUCHI, an illustrator of Koyo's books, and this package is still used today for the long-seller 'Enoshima.'
Shibashinmei-cho is a place where his grandfather and doctor Shunan ARAKI lived who raised Koyo after his mother died young.

Koyo's last word was 'Each one of you has an ugly face' while looking at the crying visitors.

[Original Japanese]