Takasebune (The Boat on the River Takase, a novel) (高瀬舟 (小説))

"Takasebune" is Ogai MORI's short story. It was published in January 1916 on "Chuo Koron," a magazine.

This story was based on 'Runin no Hanashi' (Story of an Exile) in 'Okinagusa' (Old man grass), a collection of essays in the Edo period. The theme of the story is a relation between the amount of property and desire, as well as the rights and wrongs of euthanasia.

Story line
A man named Kisuke who murdered his younger brother was on a boat on the Takase-gawa River in Kyoto that took Kyoto criminals to a distant island. Shobe HANEDA, a police constable and an escort of Kisuke, questioned him why he was smiling peacefully.


Ogai simultaneously published a self-commentary 'Takasebune Engi' which caused controversy about the theme of the story: Whether it was to be satisfied with 'one's lot in life,' 'euthanasia,' or both. A similar confusion existed in the relation between 'Sansho Dayu' Sansho the Bailiff) and his self-commentary 'Rekishi Sonomama to Rekishi Banare' (History As It Is and History Abandoned). It was pointed out, however, that a criticism against the Factory Act was submerged in 'Sansho Dayu,' so that some considered Ogai's self-commentaries to be deceptive means against censorship. That means that 'marrying a wife from a wealthy merchant' was 'digit of an abacus,' a metaphor for the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and the theme of being satisfied with 'one's lot in life' could be a criticism of the 21 Demands to China. That is why 'Takasebune' is now re-evaluated as a modern novel in the Meiji period that was supported by the history of the time.

[Original Japanese]