Mori Ogai (森鴎外)

Ogai MORI (February 17, 1862 - July 9, 1922) was a novelist, critic, translator, playwright, surgeon of the Imperial Army and Bureaucrat (Senior Official First Class). He was also Army Surgeon General (equivalent to Lieutenant General), Shoshii (Senior Fourth Rank), Order of Merit Second Class, Ko Third Grade, Doctor of Medical Science and had a doctorate in Literature. He is considered one of the great writers of the post-First World War Period ranked alongside Soseki NATSUME. His real name was Rintaro. He was born in Tsuwano Domain, Iwami Province (present Tsuwano-cho, Shimane Prefecture). He graduated from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Medicine.

After graduation, he became an army surgeon and spent four years in Germany as an overseas student under the Department of War. After coming back to Japan, he published a book of songs "Omokage" (Vestiges), a novel "Maihime" (The Dancing Girl) and a translated book "Sokkyo Shijin" (Improvising Poet), and also began to issue a literary magazine "Shigarami Soshi" (Constraint Brochure) by himself to start his career as a writer. After that, he became Army Surgeon General (equivalent to Lieutenant General), and temporarily withdrew from creative activities, but he later began to issue "Subaru" (a literary magazine), then wrote "Vita Sexualis," "'The Wild Geese" (novel) and so on. After publishing "The Last Testament of Okitsu Yagoemon" inspired by the incident of Maresuke NOGI followed his master to his grave, he wrote the historical novels such as "The Abe Clan" and "Takasebune" (The Boat on the River Takase) and a biography based on a historical evidence, "Chusai SHIBUE." Further, he successively assumed office as Director of Imperial Museum (Present Tokyo National Museum, Nara National Museum and Kyoto National Museum) and the first director of Imperial Art Academy (present The Japan Art Academy).


He was born at Tsuwano-cho, Iwami Province (present Shimane Prefecture) on February 17, 1862. In the Mori family who successively served as goteni (doctor hired by the bakufu) for Lord KAMEI of Tsuwano Domain, his grandfather and father had both been adopted in the family as son-in-laws for lack of a male successor, so Ogai was the first heir born for a long time. Also, as his grandfather Hakusen had died of disease the previous year at Tsuchiyama-juku Station on the Tokaido road, his grandmother was particularly delighted with Ogai's birth, looking at him as reincarnation of his grandfather, and it is said that later, whenever he safely came back to Japan from his study abroad or the front she would shed silent tears. As the heir of a Hani (doctor working at a public clinic), he had learned the Analects of Confucius, The Book of Mencius, Dutch and so on from childhood, and repeatedly read shishogokyo (the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism, the Nine Chinese Classics) at Yoro College, a hanko (domain school). From records of the time, his academic ability at 9 was said to be the same level as a 15 year-old, so his family and those around him, amidst the upheaval of Meiji Restoration, put their hope in his future.

In 1872 at the age of 10, prompted by the abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures, he moved to Tokyo with his father, and the following year, the rest of his family also sold their residence and left their hometown to join them. He entered the private Shinbungakusha school in October 1872 in order to learn German in preparation for admission to Kanritsu Igakko (National Medical School) where lectures were given in German by German instructors. At the time, he lodged with philosopher Amane NISHI, a relative who was a High Governmental Official, because of the convenience for commuting. Having had such a childhood, Ogai was proficient enough in foreign languages to get the better of a German professor by bringing forward a counterargument in German. He used German and French a lot in his books and often took quotes from Chinese classics. In addition, as a aid for those learning western languages, he added anecdotes to help memorize the derivation of words.

Study in Germany

He took the entrance exam and entered the preparatory school Daiichi Daigaku-ku Igakko (present University of Tokyo, Faculty of Medicine) in November 1873 at the age of 11, faking his age to be two years older than he really was. A fellow pupil, Moriharu MIURA, who later graduated at the top of the class, entered in November of the same year. On July 4 1881, he graduated from the regular course at the age of just 19 (the youngest recorded age of graduation which has never been broken). He did not have the chance to remain at the university to become a researcher as he only ranked 8th in his graduating class, but went on to help out his father's clinic, all the time dreaming of visiting Germany as an overseas student with the Ministry of Education. A fellow pupil, Masanao KOIKE, who was concerned about Ogai being unable to progress to the next step, submitted a long, enthusiastic recommendation letter to Tadanori ISHIGURO, the vice-chief of the Medical Bureau of the Department of War requesting him to employ Ogai, and his closest friend Tsuruto KOGA (who had become a Army Surgeon like Masanao) also encouraged him to join the Department of War. In the end, Ogai was hired as Guni-fuku of Army (equivalent to lieutenant) to work at Tokyo Army Hospital from December 16 of that year. According to the memoirs of his younger sister, Kimiko KOGANEI, Ogai in his youth made depictions of Shikunshi (four plants with high virtue), sketched their courtyard and often went to the yose (storyteller theater) after coming back from work; she writes that he once took her, but left halfway through before the Rakugo story teller finished his nagauta (long epic song with shamisen accompaniment).

In May 1882, half a year after joining the Ministry, he was appointed among 8 graduates from the same class at the University of Tokyo to be the first to work at the medical bureau of Department of War, Faculty of Medicine, and engaged in research of literature on the Prussian army hygiene system, and as early as March of the following year submitted the entire twelve volumes of his work "Isei Zensho Kohon" (Manuscript of Medical Science) to the public office. In June 1884, he completed a course on hygiene, and followed an order to go to Germany to look into the German Army's hygiene system. On July 28, he was granted an audience with the Meiji Emperor, and visited the Kashikodokoro (palace sanctuary). On August 24, he left Yokohama Port as an overseas student under the Department of War and arrived at the Port of Marseille in France on October 7. He then entered Berlin, the capital of Germany, on the 11th of the same month.

Ogai spent his first year (from November 22, 1884 to October 11, 1885) in Leipzig, and not yet accustomed to his new life, was supported by the Vogel family who served him lunch and dinner. He also got along well with other lodgers such as Lucius 'The woman in black,' and was fortunate to have good colleagues and masters such as Franz Hoffmann at the Universität Leipzig. In Dresden, capital of the Kingdom of Saxony, which he visited to watch military practice, he went to Dresden Art Museum to view 'Madonna of San Sisto' by Raffaello Santi. Next, he stayed in Dresden for about five months (from October 11, 1885 to March 7, 1886) in order to take part in an army surgeon's workshop. He had many encounters with people connected to the royal family and military men, and frequented royal balls, nobles' evening parties, theater in the Royal court and so on. He also established two valued friendships with Wilhelm Roth, Surgeon Major General of Saxony, who was a master of his, and Keirke, an army surgeon and one of his co-workers, who excelled at foreign languages. Also, the day before he left Dresden, he put forward a counterargument to Heinrich Edmund NAUMANN which later caused a dispute in Munich's most famous newspaper.

Whilst in Munich (from March 8, 1886 - April 15, 1887), he studied under Max von Pettenkofer of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. Unlike in Dresden where there were few Japanese people, he frequently went out with his contemporaries such as Naojiro HARADA and Atsumaro KONOE, the sons of of prominent figures, and attended theaters in his spare time from studying. In his next destination Berlin (April 16, 1887 - July 5, 1888), he went to visit Robert Koch and Shibasaburo KITASATO as soon as he arrived, later joining Koch's Sanitation Laboratory after completing a beginner's course on bacteriology. In late September, he accompanied Tadanori ISHIGURO, Surgeon Major General - visiting Germany as head Japanese representative at the 4th Red Cross Society Conference in Karlsruhe - to the conference as his interpreter official.
They made statements on September 26 and 27, and on the latter day in particular their statements brought loud reactions from the audience, some people even shouting 'Bravo.'
One group who had finished at the conference moved on to Vienna on September 28 to take part in the International Health Exhibition as representatives of the Japanese Government. During the eleven days he stayed, Ogai was reunited with his master and acquaintances. In January 1888, he made a lecture in German at a New Year's party hosted by Yamatokai Society, that was highly praised by Minister Kinmochi SAIONJI, and from January 18 he began to lecture on "Carl von Clausewitz's 'On War' and its establishment in Japan," in response to a request by Iyozo TAMURA, Senior Lieutenant. Furthermore, he experienced basic work in the army (medical work for the second infantry regiment of the imperial guard of Prussia) in exchange for an extension of his stay for another year, and as such his life in Berlin was more 'public' than it had been in Munich and other cities. However, it was also the city where he met the German woman mentioned below.

On July 5, 1888, he left Berlin with Ishiguro to go back to Japan. He stopped by London (visiting Yukio OZAKI who had been deported from Tokyo under regulations for the preservation of law and order, whom he gifted four poems) and Paris, then left Marseille Port on July 29. Four days previously on July 25, the German woman left Port Bremen heading for Japan. On September 8, Ogai arrived at Yokohama Port and returned to Tokyo in the afternoon. He was appointed instructor of the Army Medical School the same day, and further appointed as instructor of the Army War College in November, thus he held the two posts concurrently. Also, just after Ogai returned to Japan, the German woman who had been there for about one month (September 12 - October 17) had to suddenly leave, and this incident was used as material for his novel "Maihime" (The Dancing Girl). Even after that, he kept in touch with her in writing, and seemed to never forget her his whole life.

Early literary activities

On January 3, 1889, he published the "Shosetsu-ron" (theory of the novel) as an appendix of the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, and from the same day, he began to publish a translation of "El Alcalde de Zalamea" (original title: The Mayor of Zalamea), a play of Calderón de la Barca, which he and his younger brother Takeji MIKI translated into Japanese. Soho TOKUTOMI regarded his translation highly, and in August Ogai published a book of poems "Omokage" (Vestiges) (his signature was S. S. S) which he translated into Japanese as an appendix to the summer issue of "Kokumin no tomo" (The Nation's Friend), a magazine published by Minyusha, for which Soho was working as a chief editor. The "Omokage" (Vestiges) had a great influence on the development of modern poetry. He also began to issue "Shigarami Soshi" (Constraint Brochure), the first journal in Japan focusing on comment and criticism, along with coteries including Takeji, with funds of 50 yen he had earned from his manuscript of "Omokage" (Vestiges) (The publication was continued until vol. 59, when the Sino-Japanese War broke out). Thus, he passionately continued his critical enlightenment activities, starting with translations of foreign literature ("Sokkyo Shijin" (Improvising Poet) and "Faust" are well-known). He also successively published "Maihime" (The Dancing Girl), "Foam on the Waves" and "The Courier" which location were set in Germany, a country almost unknown to Japanese people at the time. In particular, "Maihime" (The Dancing Girl) - a love story between a Japanese man and a German woman - seemed to shock Japanese readers. Furthermore, he had a dispute with Ningetsu ISHIBASHI about his three books on Germany, and also instigated a dispute on "anti-idealism," by publishing critical comments in his "Shigarami Soshi" (Constraint Brochure) about realism as advocated by Shoyo TSUBOUCHI. He was asked to be an instructor of art analysis at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts (present Tokyo University of the Arts) in 1889 as well as an instructor of aesthetics at Keio University in September 1892 (However he was relieved of both these posts when he had to leave for the front line of the Sino-Japanese War and was transferred to Ogura).

Departure for the front line of the Sino-Japanese War and 'Demotion and transfer' to Ogura

As Japan and Qing China collided and embarked on war in Summer 1894 (Japan made the proclamation of war on August 1), Ogai left Tokyo on August 29, then departed from Ujina Port in Hiroshima on September 2. On May 10, 1895 after the conclusion of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Shiki MASAOKA, a war correspondent serving with the Guards Division, visited Ogai to welcome him back to Japan. Although the war with Qing was over, Ogai was ordered to work in Taiwan which had been ceded to Japan (this placement was considered to be in harmony with that of Masanao KOIKE who was working in Korea). Before leaving he went to Ujina Port on May 22 (meeting his younger brother Takeji who visited him representing his concerned family), then after two days left for Taiwan along with Sukenori KABAYAMA, the first governor of Taiwan, and others. On October 4, he came back to Japan after about four months' work in Taiwan. In January 1896, he began to publish the magazine "Mezamashi-gusa" as a successor to "Shigarami Soshi" (Constraint Brochure) in association with Rohan KODA and Ryokuu SAITO, in which they issued joint reviews 'Sannin Jogo' (Three men's redundant words), which put them at the top of the world of critics at the time (publication was discontinued in 1902). Also, from around this time, the nature of his activities became less confrontational and more moderate.

Whilst the Army was undergoing preparations for war with Russia, he was promoted to Surgeon major general (corresponding to Shosho) in June 1899, then was 'demoted' to the post of Director of the army surgeon department of the twelfth division in Kokura City (Western area, in contrast to Tokyo (Eastern area) and Osaka (Central area)). During this time, he wrote "Kokura Nikki" (Kokura Diary). While his staying in Kokura from the end of the 19th Century to the start of the 20th, he wrote a series of essay about his views on history and the modern age. Who is Ogai Gyoshi ?' (criticism on the literary world), 'Naojiro HARADA' (about western painting in the modern period of Japan), 'Ryokyuroku' (about modern art), 'If I were a wealthy man in Kyushu' (about social issues), 'Observations on one aspect of the Boxer Uprising' (lecture records), 'Joint review on new society' (a criticism of "New Society" written by Ryukei YANO, in which mentioned socialism and so on). He gave a lecture to officers on the very profound and subtle book, "On War" by Clausewitz, a lecture he used to give for Iyozo TAMURA during his stay in Germany, and also translated it on the request of Hikaru INOUE, a division chief. The other troops also wanted access to these internal materials.

As his youngest brother Junzaburo MORI observed, 'he was becoming calm and not afraid of anything' during his stay in Kokura, and at that time started to look upon people living at the bottom of society with affectionate eyes. He encountered historical artifacts, culture, legacies and so on in the various places he visited to carry out the examination for conscription, through which in his personal life also, he discovered a hobby of visiting tombs which later inspired a biography based on historical evidence he wrote in his later years. Although he lost his wife Toshiko AKAMATSU to tuberculosis in January 1900, he found out not only a new hobby but also a new wife, Shige ARAKI, eighteen years younger than him, whom he married in January 1902 after a formal marriage interview with her, which had been encouraged by his mother (it was a second marriage for both of them).
Furthermore, he made new friends who appear in his essay 'My two friends.'
One of them was 玉水俊虠 (commonly called Ankoku-ji after a Temple of the same name), a buddhist monk of the Soto sect of Zen, and the other was Hiroshi FUKUMA, a man from the same village known for his genius. When Ogai was transferred to Tokyo the two men went down with him and lived near Ogai's home to maintain their friendship.

Acquisition of office as top army surgeon and writing activities

He left for Tokyo to assume office as director of the Army Medical department of the first division along with his new wife in March 1902. In June, he began to issue "Geibun," by merging the discontinued "Mezamashi-gusa" with "Geien" (artistic and literary circles) edited by Bin UEDA (although the publication was later disconnected due to troubles with the publisher, he began to issue "Mannengusa" as a replacement in October). Around that time, he worked on plays particularly and wrote his first in December. From February 1904 to January 1906, he was at the front line of the Russo-Japanese War as director of the Army Medical department of the second Army of Japan. In October 1907, he moved on to General Office Director of Army Medicine (corresponding to Lieutenant General), then assumed office at the Medical bureau of the Department of War (the top army surgeon with authority over human resources). In September of the same year, he was appointed as art examiner, and assumed office as chief examiner of the Western Historical Painting Department of the 1st Kanten (the Japan Fine Arts Exhibition, originally called Bunten). Until around then, he mainly did translation, but after the issue of "Subaru" (literature magazine) in 1909, he started writing again and contributed to the magazine every month (A time Mokutaro KINOSHITA referred to as 'The Time of Harvest'). He exhibited "Hannichi" (Half a Day), "Vita Sexualis," "Niwatori" (The Chicken), and the novel "Seinen" (Youth) in the magazine, and published plays such as "Kamen" (The Mask) and "Shizuka" (Silence). In July of the year "Subaru" began to be issued, Ogai was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature by Tokyo Imperial University. However directly after this, his work "Vita Sexualis" ("Subaru" vol. July) was banned form publishing. Further, he was admonished by Ishimoto Vice-chief of Ministry of Army, when the Keihokyoku of the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs (Japan) visited the Department of War in August. In December, he made his position clear by using the English word 'resignation' in his piece 'Yogatachiba' (My position).

In 1910 when he assumed office as advisor to the Department of Literature of Keio University (he recommended Kafu NAGAI as an instructor), from May people involved in the Case of High Treason began to be arrested. Ogai and his wife's names appeared in the sixth edition of a serial called 'Dangerous foreign books' started by the Asahi Shinbun in September, and the Nanbokucho-Seijunron (argument over legitimacy of Northern or Southern Courts) became further divided. In such stifling year, he published "ファスチェス" (about the issue of the ban), "Chinmoku no to" (The Tower of Silence) (about learning and art), "Shokudo" (diner) (covering Kropotkin, anarchism and so on). In 1911 also, he published "Casuistica" and "Delusion," then after completing "Seinen" (Youth), he began to issue two serial long stories: "The Wild Geese" and "Kaijin" (Ashes of Destruction) simultaneously. In April of the same year, he put the following statement in 'Bungei no Shugi' (Principle of Literature) (original title : Literary Fragments).
The foreword was, 'I think the genre of art has no principles.'
Then, he concluded that 'For the sake of our nation, we must stop persecuting art and labelling it as 'individualistic' or 'egotistical' simply for the purpose of removing anarchism and socialism which grew up together
A country which prevents the independent research of learning as well as the independent evolution of art can never flourish. Between 1912 and 1913, he published a serial work with the same main character called Hidemaro GOJO from "Kanoyoni" (in this way) to "Tsuchiikka," as well as "Nezumizaka Slope" in which he described episodes from his own experience in the battlefield such as teasing a commander. At this time, he wrote pieces inspired by things around him, deep pieces about things he was concerned about, educational novels and plays. In spare moments from his public service, he continued his translation, introduction and comment on foreign literature, including Goethe's three masterpieces such as "Faust."

Between 1910 and 1911, the aforementioned Vice-chief Ishimoto and Ogai, as Medical Office Director, conflicted over the right to human resources in Army medicine which had been a long-term concern, developing to the extent that Ogai announced his resignation to Ishimoto. In the end, Medical students continued to be prioritized in personnel affairs even after Ogai's resignation. It is thought that one of the reasons why Ogai's insistence was effective even though he belonged to the hygiene department (an inferior department under the strict class society of the Army), was that he was backed by Aritomo YAMAGATA.

In August 1912, he published "Chihiro HATORI" which was the first novel written in his original style to describe the real life of a real person based on historical resources. On September 13, 1913, he completed "The Last Testament of Okitsu Yagoemon" (first draft), having been inspired five days previously by Maresuke NOGI's death following his master to the grave. This occasion let him advance to historical novels, and he wrote "The Abe clan" of 'Rekishi Sonomama,' "Sanshodayu" and "Takasebune" (The Boat on the River Takase) (novel) from 'Rekishi Banare' and so on, and finally he produced the historical biography "Chusai SHIBUE." On the other hand, he also wrote modern novels until about 1915. He wrote 'Munaguruma' (empty car), a essay in 1916, regarded as important by researchers and critics in later generations, then an essay 'Reigi kogoto' (Grumblings about Social Propriety), in January 1918 the year following the Russian Revolution.

Later years

In April 1916, partly because of how young he had been on appointment, he retired from the post of Director (the highest post) of the Medical Office of the Department of War, a service of eight and a half years and was incorporated into the reserve. After that, in December 1917 he simultaneously assumed office as director general of Imperial Museum (present Tokyo National Museum) and Head of Books of the Zushoryo (Bureau of Drawings and Books) and Kunaisho (Ministry of the Sovereign's Household), then Goyogakari of Council for the Imperial House System in January of the following year. Furthermore, he became the first director of the Imperial Art Academy (present The Japan Art Academy) in September 1918. As he was opposed to 'Meiji' and 'Taisho' as era names, he launched a historical investigation and compilation on the Emperor's Okurina (a posthumous name) and era, in his position as Head of Books at the Kunaisho (Ministry of the Sovereign's Household).
Despite managing to publish his "Consideration on the Emperors' Posthumous Names," his health began to worsen so he personally selected and asked Masuzo YOSHIDA to succeed his work, and Yoshida later contributed to completing the unfinished "Gengoko" (Consideration on the Era) and proposed the era name 'Showa.'

He passed away from contracted kidney and pulmonary tuberculosis on July 9, 1922. His age at death was 61. He is famous for leaving a will to be buried under the name of 'Rintaro MORI, a person from Iwami (his birthplace),' so respecting this his grave has only a simple inscription of 'Grave of Rintaro MORI' on it, omitting all his honors and titles. He was buried at Gufuku-ji Temple, Mukojima. His epitaph on the tombstone was written by Fusetsu NAKAMURA, in accordance with his will. His Kaimyo (Buddhist posthumous name) was 貞献院殿文穆思斎大居士. After the Great Kanto Earthquake, his grave was relocated to Zenrin-ji Temple, Mitaka City, Tokyo Prefecture as well as Yomei-ji Temple, Tsuwano-cho.

Critical philosophical activities

Ogai was always involved in dispute in the fields of literature and medical science, both of which he specialized in. In the field of literature, he pointed at idealism to describe subjective concepts, such as ideals and principles, which caused confrontation with Shoyo TSUBOUCHI who contrarily looked to realistic anti-idealism to describe things and phenomenons objectively. On the other hand, in medical science, he relied on modern western medicine, and initiated serious dispute with Chinese and Japanese doctors. He criticized the medical world of Japan, saying it was over 70% occupied by Chinese and Japanese doctors, so specialists who made progress studying other fields such as German medical science were disregarded, and this situation prevented the medical progression of Japan, so the number of doctors graduating from medical school should be increased. He continued the dispute for six years with veterans including Ryojun MATSUMOTO who was known as the founder of modern medical science.

Also, some of the disputes were caused by his argumentative nature. One of the disputes began with Ogai's criticism in "Shigarami Soshi," of the short explanation which Shoyo added to his own comments on William SHAKESPEARE in 'Waseda Bungaku' (Waseda Literature).
The dispute Ogai was involved in was sometimes called 'aggressive criticism' or 'controversial philosophy.'
In his thirties, however, the nature of his critical philosophical activities changed from one of fighting and criticism to a moderate one, for instance beginning to issue the Mezamashi-gusa (Eye-awakening grasses) magazine after the Sino-Japanese War and publishing joint reviews in it. Furthermore, his family members also pointed out that he became calm during his stay in Kokura.

Wide range of literary activities and human relationships.

As his many professions show, Ogai had a wide range of literary activities. For example, his initial representative works as a translator were "Omokage" (Vestiges) (joint translation) mentioned above and "Sokkyo Shijin" (Improvising Poet) intermittently published from 1892 to 1901. "Omokage" (Vestiges) had a great impact on the poetry world of Meiji, while "Sokkyo Shijin" (Improvising Poet) appealed to Meiji period literary men with its flowing elegant sentences, to the extent a lot of young literary enthusiasts (for example, Hakucho MASAMUNE) toured each region of Italy with the book in hand.

Ogai also translated a lot of plays (of which a considerable number were put in the magazine "Kabuki" which his younger brother Takeji MIKI was responsible for editing), and even translated opera too. He also created new Japanese words (based on Chinese characters) such as 'Kokyogaku, Kokyokyoku' (both meaning symphony), and gave a lecture on western music with Nobu KODA (a younger sister of Rohan), a musician who had come back to Japan after six-years' studying in Europe and America ('With western music and Ms. Koda'). He not only translated such foreign pieces, he also made a good deal of philosophical critiques of plays after his return to Japan.

The subject of his translations was not limited to literature; he also dealt with aesthetics such as "Shinbigaku Koryo" (aesthetic program) by Hartmann. Ogai's study of aesthetics went further than that of a translator, as shown in the dispute on "anti-idealism" with Shoyo TSUBOUCHI, which also affected Katai TAYAMA. Starting as a part-time professor (of artistic anatomy, aesthetics and western art history) at Tokyo School of Fine Arts (present Tokyo University of the Arts), Ogai also served as an instructor of aesthetics at Keio University, an examiner of the western painting department of 'the 1st Bunten exhibition,' the director general of Imperial Museum, the 1st director of The Japan Art Academy and so on.

He had a wide circle of acquaintances in every field. But, he didn't take apprentices or establish a new group in the literary world like Soseki NATSUME who was also a professor like him. Ogai who had spent four years in Germany seemed to prefer the sociable atmosphere of Western style lounges to closed, restricted human relationships. In spare moments from his work as a senior official, he edited publications aimed at a particular hobby groups or held poetry readings at home to make contact with various different people.

Even though it was limited to literary people and men of letters, the "Omokage" (Vestiges), a translated book of poems, was translated by five people, and "Shigarami Soshi" (Constraint Brochure) and "Mezamashi-gusa" (Eye-awakening grasses) magazine, a publication aimed at a particular hobby group, were circulated to many people. The poetry readings that periodically took place at his home (Kanchoro House) are especially well known. The Poetry Readings at Kanchoro House began in March 1907, and as Ogai was concerned about causing confrontation in the literary world between Tekkan YOSANO's school, the 'Shinshisha' (New Poetry Society) and the 'Negishi' School which originated with Shiki MASAOKA, he invited a representative poet from each school. After that, they began to get together on every first Saturday of the month, and it continued until April 1910. As well as Sachio ITO, Banri HIRANO, Bin UEDA, and Nobutsuna SASAKI, Hakushu KITAHARA, Isamu YOSHII, Takuboku ISHIKAWA and Mokutaro KINOSHITA from the 'Shinshisha' school and the new poets from 'Negishi' School such as Mokichi SAITO and Chikashi KOIZUMI also took park (twenty-two people in total including Akiko YOSANO).

Also, as the group was relatively undiscriminatory against women for its time, Ichiyo HIGUCHI was soon discovered as an excellent poet, and Akiko YOSANO and Raicho HIRATSUKA were also highly evaluated. Ogai got along with modern women who had a strong sense of individuality and thus were subject to criticism, for example Akiko (whose twins were named by Ogai), Raicho, Kazue OTAKE who edited high art magazine 'Saffron,' and so on. Ogai produced a fair number of works in which main character was female, and some of these had the heroine's name as a title, such as the plays "Yasui fujin" (The Wife of Yasui), "Shizuka" and "Hanako," plus the translated play "Nora" (original title "A Doll's House" by Ibsen).

Life as an army surgeon

As mentioned above, Ogai was an army surgeon (a member of the inaugural class) who learned modern Western medicine at The University of Tokyo, then went to study for four years in medically advanced Germany, finally moving on to be General Office Director of Military Medicine (corresponding to Lieutenant General), and Medical Office Director. He asserted his theory that beriberi, a major concern in the military at the time, was an infectious disease spread through germs, in opposition to Kanehiro TAKAKI, who later became the General Office Director of Navy Surgeon, and British medical science. He was so convinced of his theory that he issued an announcement to forbid eating barley rice which was taken as a diet supplement for beriberi in the Navy of the times, and in the Russo-Japanese War also, he refused to supply barley rice to soldiers (as he mentioned in his short story 'Moso' (Delusion). However, because of the undeveloped medical standards of the time (vitamins were as yet unknown) the correlation between consuming barley rice and the improvement of beriberi had not been scientifically proven (in the field of German medical science), and Takagi considered the cause of beriberi to be a shortage of protein (from statistical analysis of patients and foods based on a British model). As a consequence, 250,000 people in the army suffered from beriberi, and nearly 30,000 soldiers died, however the Navy had only 87 beriberi patients. This was because Takagi anticipated the correlation between foods and beriberi, and supplied barley rice to soldiers. Two divisions' worth of soldiers died from beriberi, and many soldiers were killed in the war through lack of energy due to the disease, so Ogai was criticized for contributing more to the deaths of Japanese soldiers than any Russian general. Just before the end of the Russo-Japanese War, Masatake TERAUCHI, the Minister of the Army, became impatient and decided to ignore the attendant Ogai and supply barley rice, making Ogai lose face (During the Sino-Japanese War Terauchi also demanded barley rice as a supplement for beriberi, but was turned down by Ogai).
Ogai later recalled, 'I was being isolated in the Army.'

Umetaro SUZUKI later discovered Oryzanin (Vitamin B1), a wonder drug for beriberi, and having proved its correlation with the disease, reports of its effectiveness were issued in quick succession. Even after that, however, Ogai obstinately criticized the views of Suzuki and academic society. Besides, Kiyoshi SHIGA, the man who discovered the dysentery bacillus, also supported the theory that beriberi was related to nutrition, so even in the medical world this theory began to be accepted. From around this time, Ogai's isolation in the medical world was getting deeper. In the end, Ogai never let go of his theory that beriberi was an infectious disease spread through germs his whole life. It was two years after Ogai's death that the nation accepted the view that beriberi derived from nutrition.

There are also those who defend Ogai, suggesting that people should consider the fact that, at the time, most noncommissioned officers and soldiers longed to eat polished white rice after joining the army, because barley rice was less tasty (rice polishing technology was not as advanced as it is today).

Kanehiro TAKAKI, who recommended eating barley rice, proposed 'Dissemination of Poverty' to resolve the urban hygiene issue, and insisted on kicking the poor out of Tokyo. Whilst this insistence may have been acceptable to some extent from a medical or public hygiene point of view, there was a major humanitarian issue, and even Ogai fundamentally disagreed with the 'Dissemination of Poverty' so the two were deeply opposed each other emotionally and otherwise.

In addition, the theory of beriberi deriving from germs was originally suggested by Tadanori ISHIGURO who contributed to realizing Ogai's study in Germany. It has been pointed that the situation at the time was such that study in Germany was not possible without the government's financial support. Besides, Ogai MORI did recognize the importance of the nutritional value of food, and gave instruction for sufficient supplies of meat and vegetables to soldiers during the Sino-Japanese War, but as he believed beriberi derived from germs he did not think nutrition played a role in the disease. However, pork, which the most consumed meat at the time contains a lot of vitamin B1, so if Ogai MORI's instruction had actually been carried out, beriberi might not have occurred. During the Russo-Japanese War, the food supply got disconnected and it was difficult to procure on the spot, so the soldiers' energy (calories) came purely through rice, and as the supply of barley rice to the army was stopped by Ogai and others, it led to many cases of beriberi and many deaths.

A lot of theses on medical science are recorded in "MORI Ogai Zenshu" (the Complete Works of Ogai MORI). He also studied the question of why beer had a diuretic effect. Perhaps because he was an army surgeon, he is said to have created the Chinese-derived word Joho ('Information') stemming from the first characters of the words Reporting ('Hokoku') and Situation ('Josei'), however this theory is disputed.

Public re-evaluation considering his medical achievements and the beriberi issue. As for Ogai's medical achievements, the following two things may be noted. The first is the examination of soldiers' food which took place in the year following his return from Germany (August - December, 1889), which was at the forefront of nutritional science of the time. The second is his foundation of the Provisional Investigation Committee of Beriberi in 1908 after assuming the role of Director of the Medical Bureau, Department of War. The investigation committee, a state institution directed by the Minister of the Army, was dedicated to looking deep into the causes of beriberi, included all the top researchers of the time and took a huge amount of money. Although it was abolished in 1924 when the theory of correlation between beriberi and vitamins became accepted, it became a parent organization to a later study group of beriberi. The investigation committee to research the causes of beriberi which Ogai helped establish is now considered to have built the foundations for the study of beriberi and vitamins. However, on the beriberi issue, Kanehiro TAKAKI is praised to have 'exterminated' the disease in the Navy through his food reform, whilst Ogai tends to be blamed for worsening the Army's beriberi situation.
However, some evaluate the situation in a completely opposite way, criticising such opinions as 'nothing but the shallow view of someone who doesn't know the truth.'
Firstly, there is the fact that beriberi which was supposed to have been 'exterminated' in the Navy emerged again from the mid-Taisho period (for example, even in Showa period, the number of patients was 1,153 in 1928, and remained over 1,000 between 1937 and 1941). The reasons for the increase in sufferers in the Navy are as follows. The quality of army food (food on board was short in vitamins), expansion of the sailing area, the effect of Takagi's incorrect theory on the causes of beriberi (unbalance between protein and carbohydrate), the collapse of the belief that 'beriberi in the Navy has been exterminated' (thanks to the progress of diagnostic standards of beriberi, patients who might before have been diagnosed with nervous disorder could now receive a correct diagnosis). Further, there is also opposition to the criticism that Ogai made the Army's beriberi situation worse. First of all, there is doubt surrounding the fact that responsibility for the beriberi disaster was not taken by the Army Department of the Imperial headquarters which was supposed to bear all responsibility for Army hygiene during the war (Tadanori ISHIGURO, in charge of Japanese Army casualties in the Sino-Japanese War, Masanao KOIKE, in charge of securing peace after the Russo-Japanese War), but by a director of the military medicine department, who was of a lower rank than them. As for the criticism that Ogai worsened the beriberi disaster by insisting on polished rice, although the Minister of Army during the Russo-Japanese War, Masatake TERAUCHI, supported the use of barley rice (the director of military insisted on it), the Imperial headquarters themselves instructed the supply of polished rice (6 go) to soldiers by the Imperial edict, just like in the Sino-Japanese War. The reasons for this included the fact barley rice easily deteriorated and became infested with vermin, tasted bad and was difficult to transport, besides which practical concerns it is said there was another emotional resistance to barley rice. Polished rice used to be considered a feast common people dreamed of, while barley rice was looked down on as the food of the poor, and such thoughts could not be ignored, besides, most troop leaders wanted to give their soldiers the treat of polished rice before leaving for the front where they might be killed. Finally, as for the criticism that Ogai's 'examination of soldiers' food' prompted beriberi to occur, it is simply an irrational argument imposed by later generations with the knowledge of vitamins, on an earlier generation whose methods and conclusions were suitable and correct for the knowledge that existed at the time. However, the results of the examination of soldier's food were distorted by his superior officer, Ishiguro. Even taking account of the strict class system of the Army, it can't be said that Ogai had no responsibility at all for his superior officer's actions. As we have seen, some say most of the criticism towards Ogai on the beriberi issue is misdirected. The reasons Ogai was targeted include the fact he overly criticized the Navy's soldier food reform, relied on logic and the academic authorities too much and sympathized with Ishiguro, his superior officer in the Sino-Japanese War.
Furthermore, the reasons he was criticized on the beriberi issue are that he punished those who violated the ban of barley rice when he became the Director of the Medical Office in the Ministry of War, that he published his opinion on 'Can a decrease in beriberi be brought about by using barley rice instead of polished rice' in seven magazines related to hygiene, thus leaving no room for his competitors ('MORI Ogai Zenshu (the Complete Works of Ogai MORI),' Vol. 34, page 165 to 168), and that military men tended to be evaluated only on results, regardless of circumstances, as shown in the phrase 'Winning is what makes the Imperial army.'

Chronological list of major events

His age was counted using the traditional Japanese system.

He was born as a first son to Seitai MORI (later changed his first name to Shizuo), a doctor of Tsuwano Domain, Ishimi Province, and Mineko, in Tsuwano (present Tsuwano-cho, Kanoashi-gun, Shimane Prefecture) on February 17, 1862.

In 1867 he was six.

In November, he learned the Rongo Analects from Kyube MURATA.

In 1868 he was seven.

In March, he learned The Book of Mencius from Tsunayoshi YONEHARA.

In 1869 he was eight.

He started rereading the Four Chinese Books from the beginning at Yoro College.

In 1870 he was nine.

He learned the Five Classics texts of Confucianism and Dutch.

In 1871 he was ten.

He learned Dutch from Ryoetsu MURO, a domain doctor.

In 1872 he was eleven.

In June, he left Tsuwano with his father, and in August, entered Tokyo (Koume Village, Mukojima). After that, moved to Hikifune Street, Mukojima. In October, he enrolled in Shinbungakusha school (a private school) in Hongo to learn German.

In 1873 he was twelve.

In June, his grandmother, mother and others went down to Tokyo after selling their house in Tsuwano Town. In November, he enrolled in the preparatory course of Daiichi Daigaku-ku, Igakko (present the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Medicine). The school later changed its name to Tokyo Igakko (the predecessor of the Medical Faculty of Tokyo University).

In 1877 he was sixteen.

Tokyo Igakko was merged into Tokyo Kaisei Gakko (Kaisei School) to form the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Medicine, and he became a regular student.

In 1880 he was nineteen.

He moved into 'Kamijo,' a boarding house in Hongo-tatsuoka-cho. In the following March, he was caught in a fire, and lost many belongings including lecture notebooks.

In 1881 he was twenty.

In Spring, he caught a pleurisy. In July, he graduated from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Medicine. He moved into the Kisseido-iin (Kisseido Clinic) in Senju Town, Minamiadachi County, which his father Shizuo was managing.
He appeared in a PR brochure of Ministry of Education, described as 'Rintaro MORI, in the warrior class of Tokyo, 19 years and 8 months.'
After that, he served the Meiji Government. In September, his work 'Kawazu Kinsen Kimi-ni Tadasu' was accepted by The Yomiuri Shimbun Newspaper. This was the first piece of Ogai's writing the public saw. In December, he was appointed as Karyo (a position name) of Tokyo Military Hospital, and assumed office as Fuku (assistant head) of military medicine.

In 1882 he was twenty-one.

In February, he became the vice-conscription medical officer of Daiichi Gunkan-ku (equivalent to lieutenant) (the first military district), and was conferred a medal of merit of the Jushichii (Junior Seventh Rank). In May, he was promoted to Karyo of the Military Medicine Headquarters, and was assigned to investigate the Prussian army's hygiene system.

In 1884 he was twenty-three.

In June, he was ordered to study the Army's hygiene system in Germany and do general research on hygiene. In August, he left Yokohama Port. In October, he arrived in Germany. He studied under Professor Hoffmann and others at Universität Leipzig. He began his research on "The Diuretic Effect of Beer."

In 1885 he was twenty-four.

In January, he published "Thieves," a nursery story by Hauff he translated into Japanese. In February, he wrote "Nippon Heishoku Ron" (discussion on army food of Japan) and "Nippon Kaoku Ron" (discussion on the houses of Japan) in German. In May, he was promoted to Army Surgeon of the First Class (equivalent to Taijo, Captain). In October, he transferred to Dresden.

In 1886 he was twenty-five.

In March, transferred to Munich. He enrolled in the faculty of hygienics of the university, and learned hygienics from Max von Pettenkofer.

In 1887 he was twenty-six.

He transferred to Berlin in April. In May, he visited Robert Koch along with Shibasaburo KITASATO, and joined the hygiene laboratory.

In 1888 he was twenty-seven.

In March, he joined the military service in the Second Infantry Regiment of Prussian Imperial Guard. In September, he arrived back in Japan (Yokohama Port). In October, he assumed office as the Instructor of Rikugun Daigakko (the Army War College). In December, he published "How the Argument for Non-Japanese Food is losing its Support" at his own expense.

In 1889 he was twenty-eight.

In January, he began to issue "Tokyo Iji Shinshi" (Tokyo Medical Journal). After that, he started his professional writing career by publishing "Comments on Novels based on the Theory on Medical Science" in the Yomiuri Shimbun. In March, he got engaged to Toshiko, the first daughter of the Vice Admiral Noriyoshi AKAMATSU, however the ceremony consisted simply of taking photos. In May, he assumed office as Instructor of art analysis in the special course of Tokyo University of the Arts. In August, he published 'Omokage' (Vestiges), a book of songs, in "Kokumin no tomo" (The Nation's Friend). In October, he became assistant instructor to the Senior Army Surgeon in the Second Class of the Army Doctor School (equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel).

In 1890 he was twenty-nine.

In January, he began to issue "Iji Shinron" (Medical News). He also published 'Maihime' (The Dancing Girl) in "Kokumin no tomo" (The Nation's Friend). In August, he published 'Foam on the Waves' in "Shigarami Soshi" (Constraint Brochure). This work became the source of a dispute with Ningetsu ISHIBASHI. In September, his first son, Oto MORI, was born. However, he divorced his wife Toshiko soon after. In October, he relocated to 57 Sendagi-cho, Komagome, Hongo.
Ogai called the place 'Sendasanbo.'

In 1891 he was thirty.

In January, he issued "The Courier." In August, he was awarded the degree of Doctor (medical science). In September, he published 'Sanbo Ronbun' in "Shigarami Soshi" (Constraint Brochure). He also had a dispute on "anti-idealism" with Shoyo TSUBOUCHI in Waseda Bungaku (Waseda Literature).

In 1892 he was thirty-one.

In July, he published "Minawashu," a book of translated novels (Shunyodo). In August, he built a home (Kanchoro House) to take refuge from his dispute on medical science and literature. In November, he began a serial, 'Sokkyo Shijin' (Improvising Poet) by Hans Christian Andersen, in "Shigarami Soshi" (Constraint Brochure).

In 1893 he was thirty-two.

In November, he was promoted to Senior Army Surgeon, First Class (equivalent to Army Colonel) and became the Principal of the Army Medical School.

In 1894 he was thirty-three.

In August, the Sino-Japanese War broke out. He arrived at Qing (Kaenko, Shengjing Province) as Department Director of Military Medicine. In October, he worked in Hiroshima City where the Hiroshima Imperial headquarters were, and in November, arrived at Dalian City.

In 1895 he was thirty-four.

In May after the signing of the Shimonoseki Treaty, he went back to Japan and stayed in Hiroshima City instead of visiting his hometown. In August, he became the Military Medicine Department Director of the Military Bureau in Taiwan Sotoku-fu. In September, he went back to Japan.

In 1896 he was thirty-five.

In January, he began to issue "Mezamashi-gusa" (Eye-awakening grasses) magazine. In March, he began publishing joint reviews 'Sannin Jogo' (Three men's redundant words) in "Mezamashi-gusa" magazine along with Rohan KODA and Ryokuu SAITO. In April, his father Shizuo passed away.

In 1897 he was thirty-six.

In January, he founded the Koshu Iji (Public Medical Affairs) Society along with Toichiro NAKAHAMA (the first son of John Manjiro), Tanemichi AOYAMA and others, and began to issue "Koshu Iji."

In 1898 he was thirty-seven.

In October, he assumed office as the Imperial Guard Military Medicine Department Director as well as the Principal of the Army Doctor School concurrently.

In 1899 he was thirty-eight.

In June, he was promoted to Surgeon Major General (equivalent to shosho (major general)) to work as the Military Medicine Department Director of the Twelfth Division in Kokura, Fukuoka Prefecture.

In 1902 he was fourty-one.

In January, he remarried Shige, the first daughter of Hakushin ARAKI, a Judge of Daishin-in (Predecessor of the Supreme Court of Japan). In March, he was transferred to Tokyo.

In 1903 he was fourty-two.

In January, his first daughter Mari MORI was born.

In 1904 he was fourty-three.

In February, the Russo-Japanese War broke out. In April, he left Ujina Port in Hiroshima City as the Military Medicine Department Director of the Second Army of the Russo-Japanese War. He wrote "A Diary in Verse."

In 1905 he was fourty-four.

After the victory in the Battle of Mukden, he contributed to the transport of the remaining employees of the Russian Red Cross Society. The following January, he went back to Japan.

In 1906 he was fourty-five.

In June, he founded 'Tokiwakai Society,' an Uta-kai (poem competition), along with Tsuruto KAKO and others (Aritomo YAMAGATA and other joined later).

In 1907 he was fourty-six.

In March, he held a 'Kanchoro Uta-kai' at home inviting Tekkan YOSANO, Sachio ITO, Nobutsuna SASAKI and others. In June, he attended 'Usei-kai,' an Uta-kai hosted by Kinmochi SAIONJI. In August, his second son, Fritz, was born. In October, he became Army Surgeon General in the Medical Bureau of the Department of War.

In 1908 he was fourty-seven.

In January, his younger brother Takeji MIKI passed away. In February, his second son Fritz passed away. In May, he became a member of the Provisional Kana Usage Investigation Committee of the Ministry of Education.

In 1909 he was fourty-eight.

In March, he wrote 'Hannichi' (Half a Day), a novel in spoken style, for "Subaru" (a literary magazine). After that, he frequently wrote for the magazine. In May, his second daughter, Annu KOBORI, was born. In July, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature, and also his work "Vita Sexualis" was banned.

In 1910 he was fourty-nine.

In February, he became an adviser of the Faculty of Literature in Keio University.

In 1911 he was fifty.

In February, his third son, Rui MORI, was born. In May, he became a member of the Literature Committee. In September, he began to put his serial novel 'The Wild Geese' in "Subaru."

In 1912 he was fifty-one.

In January, he completed his translation of the play "Faust" requested by the Literature Committee. In October, he published his first historical novel 'The Last Testament of Okitsu Yagoemon' in "the Chuo koron."

In 1913 he was fifty-two.

In January, he published 'The Abe Clan' in "the Chuo koron."

In 1914 he was fifty-three.

In January, he published 'Heihachiro OSHIO' in "the Chuo koron." In February, he published 'Sakai Incident' in "Shinshosetsu" (New Novels).

In 1915 he was fifty-four.

In January, he published 'Sanshodayu' in "the Chuo koron," and 'Rekishi Sonomama to Rekishi Banare' (History As It Is and History Abandoned) in "Kokoro no Hana" (Flower in heart). In November, he announced his resignation to Oshima, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Army. In the same year, he began investigative research on Chusai SHIBUE.

In 1916 he was fifty-five.

In January, he published 'Takasebune' (The Boat on the River Takase) in "the Chuo koron," and 'Kanzan Jittoku' in "Shinshosetsu" (New Novels). He began to write a serial piece, 'Chusai SHIBUE' for the Tokyo Nichinichi Newspaper and Osaka Mainichi Shimbun. In March, his mother Mineko passed away.

In 1917 he was fifty-six.

In December, he assumed office of Director General of the Imperial Museum, and was granted title of Senior Official, First Class.

In 1918 he was fifty-seven.

In November, he made a short stay in Nara to see the unsealing of Shoso-in Treasure House. After that until 1921, he visited Nara every Autumn.

In 1919 he was fifty-eight.

In September, he assumed the office of First Principal of the Japan Art Academy.

In 1920 he was fifty-nine.

In January, he suffered from kidney trouble.

In 1921 he was sixty.

In June, he assumed office as Chairman of the Rinji Kokugo Chosakai (Special Investigation Committee on the Japanese Language). In Autumn, he began to show the first signs of renal disease such as swollen feet.

In 1922 he was sixty-one.

In April, he made a fifth trip to Nara, fitting his schedule around the Prince of England's visit to Shosoin. During his trip he was confined to his bed several times due to illness. On June 29, he was diagnosed with an atrophic kidney. He also showed signs of pulmonary tuberculosis. On July 6, he asked a friend Tsuruto KAKO to write down his will for him. On July 9, he passed away at 7 in the morning. His ashes were buried at Gufuku-ji Temple, Mukojima.


His grave was transferred to Zenrin-ji Temple, Mitaka City. Some of his ashes were buried in another grave at Yomei-ji Temple, Tsuwano-cho.


Maihime (The Dancing Girl) ("Kokumin no tomo" (The Nation's Friend)), January 1890. Foam on the Waves ("Kokumin no tomo" (The Nation's Friend), August 1890. The Courier (Yoshioka Shoten Publishing, January 1891). Hannichi (Half a Day) ("Subaru," March 1909). Masui (Enchanted Sleep) ("Subaru," June 1909). Vita Sexualis ("Subaru," July 1909). Niwatori (The Chicken) ("Subaru," August 1909). Gold Coin ("Subaru," September 1909). Sakazuki (Cups) ("the Chuo koron," January 1910). Seinen (Youth) (Novel) ("Subaru," March 1910 - August 1911). Fushinchu (Under Reconstruction) ("Mita Bungaku (literary magazine)," June 1910). Hanako ("Mita Bungaku," July 1910). Asobi (Play) ("Mita Bungaku," August 1910). Jikido (dining hall) ("Mita Bungaku," December 1910). Hebi (Snake) ("the Chuo koron," January 1911).

Moso (Delusion) ("Mita Bungaku," April 1911). The Wild Geese (novel) ("Subaru," September 1911 - May 1913). Kaijin (Ashes of Destruction) ("Mita Bungaku," October 1911 - December 1912). Hyakumonogatari (100 Stories) ("the Chuo koron," October 1911). Kanoyoni ("the Chuo koron," January 1912). The Last Testament of Okitsu Yagoemon (October 1912, "the Chuo koron"). The Abe Clan ("the Chuo koron," January 1913). Heihachiro OSHIO ("the Chuo koron," January 1914). Sakai Incident ("Shinshosetsu" (New Novels), February 1914). Yasui fujin (The Wife of Yasui) ("Taiyo (Sun)," April 1914). Sanshodayu ("the Chuo koron," November 1915). Jisan Basan (Grandpa and Grandma) ("Shinshosetsu," September 1915). Takasebune (The Boat on the River Takase) (Novel) ("the Chuo koron," January 1916). Kanzan Jittoku ("Shinshosetsu," January 1916).

Ikuta-gawa River (play)


"El Alcalde de Zalamea" (The Mayor of Zalamea) by Calderón de la Barca, 1889.
*Joint translation with Takeji MIKI

"Omokage" (Vestiges) (summer appendix of "Kokumin no tomo," translated by Shinseisha, 1889). "Sokkyo Shijin" (Improvising Poet) by Hans Christian Andersen (began to appear in "Shigarami Soshi Magazine" in November 1892 and ended in "Mezamashi-gusa Magazine" in February 1901).
"Faust" by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Part 1: January 1913, Part 2: March, Fuzanbo)
"Salome (play)" by Oscar Wilde

Historical Biographies

Chusai SHIBUE (Tokyo Nichinichi Newspaper, Osaka Mainichi Shimbun, January - May 1916).
Ranken IZAWA
Katei HOJO
He planed to write "Ekisai KARIYA" as a sequel.


Wife and children

His ex-wife Toshiko (daughter of Vice Admiral Noriyoshi AKAMATSU).

His first son Oto MORI (A Medical Scientist, who successively worked in different positions such as a professor of Faculty of Medicine, Taipei Imperial University).

His second wife
Shige MORI
She wrote 'Haran' (disturbance) ("The Collection of Kyoka IZUMI, The Meiji Female Literature, Ichiyo HIGUCHI" Modern Japanese Literary System 5, Chikuma Shobo Publishers, 1972), and became a supporting member of Magazine "Seito" along with her sister-in-law Kimiko KOGANEI.

His first daughter, Mari MORI (Essayist, Novelist)

His second daughter, Annu KOBORI (Essayist)

His second son, Fritz (died prematurely)

His third son, Rui MORI (Essayist)

Each of these four children wrote literary works on Ogai, in particular, Mari's ("My Father's Hat" published in a Japanese text book) and Annu's ("Bannen-no Chichi" (My father in his last years) are well known.

His younger brother and sister
His younger brother, Tokujiro MORI (Takeji MIKI)

A representative play critic of the Meiji period as well as a physician. He edited a play magazine "Kabuki," and established the subjective standard in the field of Kabuki criticism ("Kangeki Guhyo" (Reviews on theater play) written by Takeji MIKI, edited by Tamotsu WATANABE, published by Iwanami bunko, 2004).

His younger sister, Kimiko KOGANEI

A translator who ranked with Shizuko WAKAMATSU in Meiji period, an essayist and a poet ("Ogai no Omoide" (My memory for Ogai) published by Iwanami bunko, 1999. "Mori Ogai no Keizoku" (Ogai MORI's descendants) published by Iwanami bunko, 2001).

His younger brother-in-law, Yoshikiyo KOGANEI

Husband of Kimiko
He was one of the first overseas student under the Ministry of Education (he went to Germany to study the year before Ogai). He came back to Japan at 24, and at the age of 27, he assumed office as professor of the Faculty of Medicine, Tokyo Imperial University, replacing a foreign professor who was earning a high salary.

One of the grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. Koganei was the novelist Shinichi HOSHI.

Extended family

Amane NISHI (keimoka (Member of the Enlightenment movement))

The second son of Ogai's great-grandfather, born to the Nishi family which was succeeded by Kakuma MORI. He was a western law scholar as well as being part of Enlightenment movement in the Meiji restoration in the end of Edo period, and he successively worked in different positions such as an important post in the house of peers and as councilor of the senate. Young Ogai, having just settled down in Tokyo, lodged for a while at Amane NISHI's home whilst commuting to Shinbungakusha school.

His family tree

The Mori clan which had been serving as doctors for generations, carried on from the Keian era until 1869 when the lands and people were returned to the emperor.


He always separated his thoughts into two personalities: those of a man of literature and those of a warrior. Once, when Mori was standing at a station wearing military uniform, a close friend from the literary world casually started talking to him, making Mori get upset and shout at him.

He was so proud of being a military man that he put on his uniform whenever he took a walk with his daughter.
One day, when he was taking a walk with Annu, children ran up to them, shouting 'Here comes a lieutenant general.'
The Russo-Japanese War had just ended, so military men were children's heroes. But, one of the children, seeing Ogai's self-satisfied expression, noticed the dark green badge on his collar and shouted, 'What's that? He's just an army surgeon,' then the other children shouted 'Ooh, he's just an army surgeon,' and ran away. Stunned, the father and daughter were left alone, and it is said Ogai was so upset he didn't say a word on the way home.

On the old site of 'Kanchoro House' in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, a residence which Ogai built in 1892 and lived in until his later years, there now stands the Ogai Memorial Hall and Hongo Public Library.

Having mastered bacteriology, Ogai was obsessed with being clean just like Louis PASTEUR, and he came to be unable to eat anything not cooked. On the other hand, he hated bathing.

He had a sweet tooth, and according to the books of his daughters Mari and Annu, he used to eat Manju (a bun stuffed with azuki-bean paste) soaked in Japanese tea. Part of the reason for this was his obsession with cleanliness, and he is said to have considered any food preserved in sugar or soaked in boiling water to be safe because germs would be killed off.

[Original Japanese]