Soseki NATSUME (novelist) (夏目漱石)

Soseki NATSUME (February 9, 1867 - December 9, 1916) was a novelist, critic, and scholar of English literature. His real name was Kinnosuke. He was a great writer in the Meiji and Taisho periods ranked with Ogai MORI, and is widely known for his works including "Wagahai wa neko dearu" (I am a CAT) and "Kokoro."
He was born in Ushigome Babashitayokocho in Edo (present Kikuicho, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.)
His haiku pen name is Gudabutsu.

When he was a university student, he was acquainted with Shiki MASAOKA and learned haiku under Shiki. After graduating from the English Literature Department of Teikoku University (later, Tokyo University), he once taught at schools, including Matsuyama chugaku (Matsuyama Junior High School), and went to England to study. After returning to Japan, he wrote 'Wagahai wa neko dearu' for the magazine "Hototogisu," while teaching at Tokyo University. The novel gained a good repetition and he wrote other novels, 'Botchan,' 'Rondonto' (The Tower of London) and the like. Later, he entered The Asahi Shimbun Company, and wrote novels 'Gubijinso' (Red Poppy), 'Sanshiro' and others for the newspaper. In those days, he was categorized in the Yoyuha school.

After 'Shuzenji no taikan' (serious illness in Shuzenji), he wrote "Kojin" (The Wayfarer), "Kokoro," "Garasudo no naka" (Inside My Glass Doors) and others as a professional writer.
It is said that he attained the mentality of 'Sokutenkyoshi.'
In his later years, he suffered from gastric ulcer, and 'Meian' was his last work.

His portrait was printed on Series D 1000 yen Bank of Japan banknote, which was issued from 1984 to 2004.


On February 9, 1867, he was born as the youngest child (fifth son) of Kohei Naokatsu NATSUME, mayor of Ushigome Babashita in Edo, which post had been handed down through the family for generations. Since it is said that his mother was embarrassed by having him because she had already had a lot of children and it was late maternity, he might have been an undesired child. He was named Kinnosuke, to which the letter Kin was given for warding off evil fortune, because he was born on the day of Koshin (it was believed that a baby born on this day would grow up to be a master thief). He contracted smallpox around the age of three and was badly scarred for life.

In those days, as his family, the house of the mayor, might have become ruined in the confusion after the collapse of Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), he was fostered by a family that owned a secondhand shop (or in another opinion, a vegetable store) in Yotsuya immediately after birth; however, his sister felt pity for him, who was left sleeping among the goods until late at night, and took him back home. After that, at the age of one, he was adopted out to Shonosuke SHIOBARA, a friend of his father. Due to his foster parents' marital discord for some reasons including his foster father Shonosuke's infidelity, he temporarily returned to his birth parents' home with his foster mother at the age of seven. Soseki once believed his birth parents to be his grandparents. Due to his foster parents' divorce, he returned to his birth parents' home at the age of nine, but since his birth father was in conflict with his foster father, he could not be returned to his original family register of the Natsume family until he became 21. As such, Soseki's childhood was full of troubles. He was troubled by his foster father Shonosuke, who came to him asking for money or something, after he began working for Asahi Shimbun Company; that relationship lasted until his birth father died. He wrote about his relationship with his foster parents in his autobiographical novel "Michikusa" (Grass on the Wayside).

While he was in domestic trouble, he transferred from Shinjuku kuritsu Aijitsu shogakko to Chiyoda kuritsu Ochanomizu shogakko, and to Kinka shogakko; the reason for transferring to the last one was considered to have been in preparation for entering Tokyofu daiichi chugaku. At the age of 12, he entered Tokyofu daiichi chugaku seisokuka (later furitsu icchu, present Tokyo toritsu Hibiya senior high school). He left seisokuka in his second year of the school partly because the school had no class for English, which was a compulsory subject of entrance examination of Preparatory School of the University of Tokyo (Daigaku Yobimon), and partly because he desired to study the Chinese classics and literature. Even after leaving the school, he pretended to go to school with a lunch for fear of being scolded by his oldest brother Daisuke. Later, he entered Nishogakusha University, a private school of Chinese classics. In this school, he developed the Confucian ethical view, oriental aesthetic, and sense of Edo people, all of which are seen in the novels he wrote later. He left the school after several months, however. This is because his oldest brother Daisuke objected to his studying literature. Daisuke left Daigaku Nanko before graduation because of sickness and worked as a translator at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (under Naimusho); Daisuke placed confidence in his bright youngest brother Soseki, and intended him to graduate from a university to succeed in life and to restore the Natsume family.

Two years later, in 1883, since Soseki had to study English to prepare for the entrance examination of Daigaku Yobimon (later, daiichi kotogakko), he entered Eigakujuku Seiritsugakusha (which has no connection with present Seiritsugakuen senior high school) at Surugadai in Kanda and distinguished himself.

In 1884, he successfully entered the preparatory course of Daigaku Yobimon. He passed the examination partly thanks to his friend, who had a seat next to him, letting him steal a glance at the answers during the examination. Incidentally, that friend failed in the examination. When he was a student of Daigaku Yobimon, he had Yoshikoto NAKAMURA, a future president of the South Manchuria Railway Company, as a fellow lodger in his boarding house. In 1886, Daigaku Yobimon changed its name to Daiichi kotochugakko (First High School). In the same year, Soseki suffered appendicitis and could not take the examination for promotion to the preparatory course II, and had to repeat a year as Yoshikoto did. Thereafter, he supported himself by teaching at private schools, including Kotogijuku. He began to work hard at his studies and got the best marks in almost all subjects. He was good especially at English.

There is an episode that he evaded conscription by moving his registered address to Hokkaido so as not to become a Grade One conscript.

Meeting with Shiki

In 1889, Soseki had a new classmate Shiki MASAOKA, who was to significantly influence him in literature and personality. When "Nanakusashu," a collection of Shiki's works including Chinese-style poetry and haiku, was passed round the classmates, Soseki added his comment in Chinese at the end of the collection, which was the beginning of real friendship between Shiki and Soseki. He first used his pen name 'Soseki' at this time.
The name 'Soseki' originated from 'Soseki Chinryu' (rinsing his mouth with a stone and resting his head on a pillow of flowing water), a phrase from a historical event written in "Shinjo" in the Tang dynasty, which is a simile of 'bad loser' and 'perverse person.'
Shiki had a lot of pen names, including 'Soseki,' which Shiki later gave to Soseki.

In November of the same year, the relationship between Soseki and Shiki was getting closer through several occasions including Soseki asking Shiki to criticize his "Bokusetsuroku," an account of a journey to Awa Province (Boso Peninsula) written in Chinese. Shiki was surprised at Soseki's superb Chinese sentences and poems. Thereafter, the relationship lasted until Shiki died in 1902 when Soseki was studying in England.

In 1890, Soseki entered the English Literature Department of Teikoku University (later Tokyo University,) which had just been founded. It is considered to be during this period that Soseki began to be pessimistic and suffer from nervous breakdown (psychiatric disorder). In March 1887, a little before the above period, he lost his oldest brother Daisuke. In June in the same year, he lost his next oldest brother Einosuke. Soon after in 1891, he lost Tose, the wife of his third oldest brother Wasaburo; his loss of these close relatives one after another might have affected his state of mind. Soseki was deeply hurt by the death of Tose and composed dozens of haiku to express his feelings about her, as it is said that he loved her.

In the next year, he was given a scholarship, and in response to a request from Professor J. M. Dixon, he translated "Hojoki" (An Account of My Hut) into English. In 1892, he established a branch family to evade conscription, and moved his registered address to Hokkaido as he was a scholarship student. Around May in the same year, he started to earn his school fees by working as an instructor at Tokyo Senmongakko (present Waseda University).
Soseki and Shiki often took a stroll around Waseda; Shiki mentioned the strolls with Soseki in his essay "Bokuju Itteki," 'I was surprised to find that Soseki did not know that rice, which we eat every day, are seeds of these rice plants.'
On July 7, Soseki took advantage of the summer vacation of the university to leave for Kansai to travel for the first time, accompanying Shiki, who was returning home in Matsuyama. They left Shinbashi on a night train; on July 8, arrived at Kyoto and stayed there over two nights; on July 10, Soseki parted from Shiki at Kobe; and on July 11, arrived at Okayama. In Okayama, he stayed at the house of Hazumu KATAOKA, the father of Okatsu, the wife of his second oldest brother Einosuke, for about a month. On July 19, during this stay, Soseki received a letter from Shiki in Matsuyama saying that he would leave the school because he had failed the annual examinations. In the afternoon on that day, Soseki sent a letter to Shiki to prompt him to change the decision by adding a haiku 'Nakunaraba Mangetsu ni nake Hototogisu' (Night cuckoo, if you cry, Cry to the full moon). On August 10, Soseki left Okayama to visit Shiki in Matsuyama. At Shiki's house, Soseki became acquainted with fifteen-year-old Kyoshi TAKAHAMA, who would later encourage Soseki to be a professional writer. In March 1893, Shiki left the university before graduation.

Study in England

In 1893, he graduated from Teikoku University and became an English teacher at Tokyo University of Education; however, he had an odd feeling about the Japanese studying English literature. Being affected by the above-mentioned incident of lost love in two years before suffering tuberculosis of the lungs to be found in the next year, he suffered from extreme nervous breakdown (psychiatric disorder) and an obsession. Later, he tried some remedies, including practicing Zen at Enkaku-ji Temple in Kamakura City, in vain.

In 1895, like fleeing from Tokyo, Soseki resigned Higher Normal School and left for his new post in Ehime prefectural Jinjo chugakko (present Ehime prefectural Matsuyamahigashi senior high school) through the good offices of Torao SUGA. Since Matsuyama City was Shiki's hometown, Soseki stayed there for two months for a rest. During this period, Soseki devoted himself to compose haiku with Shiki and left a lot of masterpieces.

In 1896, after becoming an English teacher at Kumamoto prefectural daigo kotogakko (predecessor of Kumamoto University), he married Kyoko, the oldest daughter of Juichi NAKANE, the Chief Secretary of the House of Peers, as recommended by his relatives, but his married life was not favorable; in the third year of their marriage, Kyoko suffered from such serious hysteria due to the environment she could not become accustomed to accompanied by a miscarriage that she attempted to drown herself in Ikawabuchi of Shirakawa river in Kumamoto. Except for family life, Soseki was as successful as being active in haiku circles and won fame.

In May 1900, Soseki was ordered to study English literature in England by the Ministry of Education. Soseki voraciously read books of George Meredith and Charles Dickens. Soseki received private tuition by William Craig, a Shakespeare scholar, whom Soseki described in "Eijitsu Shohin," and developed his theory of literature to be published as "Bungakuron"; however, he was obsessed by the odd feeling about the Japanese studying English literature again and relapsed into nervous breakdown. He changed his boarding house frequently because he was hurt by racial discrimination as an Oriental person for nothing, which might have been accompanied by frustration in his study.

In 1901, as he began sharing a room with a chemist Kikunae IKEDA for two months, he was stimulated and immersed himself in study alone in the boarding house. During that period, Soseki kept his associations with the other Japanese students in England to a minimum, and reputed to be 'suffered from mental disorder' among them. That reputation reached the Ministry of Education and Soseki was ordered to return to Japan. In 1903, he returned to Japan. In 1984, the Soseki Museum in London was established by Ikuo TSUNEMATSU at the site opposite to the last boarding house where Soseki stayed. In the Museum, the boarding houses where Soseki stayed, people Soseki got acquainted with, the books Soseki read, and the like are exhibited to the public.

Entering Asahi Shimbun Company and his way to becoming a great writer

After returning to Japan, Soseki was invited as an instructor by Tokyo Daiichi High School and Tokyo Imperial University. In Tokyo Imperial University, he succeeded Yakumo KOIZUMI, but the students asked for Yakumo to stay and Soseki's pedantic and analytical instruction was unpopular among them. In those days, Soseki scolded Misao FUJIMURA, a student in his charge in Daiichi High School, for lack of drive, and several days later, Misao drowned himself in Kegon no taki Fall. Under the circumstances, Soseki suffered from nervous breakdown, and lived separately from his wife for two months. In 1904, he also became an instructor at Meiji University.

At the end of the year, he started writing 'Wagahai wa neko dearu,' his maiden work as a professional writer in response to a recommendation of Kyoshi as a remedy for his nervous breakdown. The novel was introduced in 'Yamasaki,' a circle of Shiki's disciples, for the first time and favorably received. The novel was published as a complete story in the magazine "Hototogisu" in January 1905, and as it became popular with the readers, he kept on writing its sequel. From this period, he desired to live as a professional writer and successively published works including 'Rondonto' and 'Bocchan' and built up a presence as a popular novelist. Soseki's works are categorized in the Yoyuha school, which was in contrast with the naturalist literature, the mainstream of literature in those days, because his novels have full of 'Teikai shumi,' coined by Soseki, which means dilettantism to be relaxed in thinking about one's life instead of being occupied with mundane affairs.

In 1906, Soseki had a lot of guests including Toyotaka KOMIYA, Miekichi SUZUKI, and Sohei MORITA at his house, and Miekichi SUZUKI decided Thursday to be their meeting day.
That was the origin of the later 'Mokuyokai.'
Soseki had disciples Hyakken UCHIDA and Yaeko NOGAMI, as well as Ryunosuke AKUTAGAWA and Masao KUME, the two of whom would later lead the Shinshicho school, as novelists, and Torahiko TERADA, Jiro ABE, and Yoshishige ABE as scholars.

In February 1907, he gave up all of his teaching posts and entered Asahi Shimbun Company as invited by Sanzan IKEBE. Here, he became a real professional writer. In June in the same year, he started serially publishing 'Gubijinso,' his first work as a professional writer. While writing, he suffered from nervous breakdown and stomach trouble. In 1909, he traveled Manchuria and Korea in response to an invitation of his close friend Yoshikoto NAKAMURA, president of the South Manchuria Railway Company.
Soseki serially published the record of this travel in "Asahi Shinbun" under the title of 'Mankan tokorodokoro.'

Shuzenji no Taikan

In June 1910, Soseki was hospitalized at the Nagayo Gastrointestinal Hospital for gastric ulcer, while writing 'Mon,' which was the third novel of the trilogy in his early period following "Sanshiro" and "Sorekara." In August of the same year, in response to a recommendation of his disciple Toyojo MATSUNE, Soseki moved to Shuzenji in Izu Province to recuperate. There, Soseki vomited as an alarming amount as 800 grams of blood for his gastric disease, and fell into critical condition.
That is the incident known as 'Shuzenji no Taikan.'
His experience of temporary 'death' in this period would influence his later works. At the very end of his life, Soseki tried to reach the mentality he called 'Sokutenkyoshi,' which is considered to have been the state of mind he had during the Shuzenji no Taikan. Soseki confessed his true feelings, which was close to what he really thought, in "Garasudo no naka."

In October of the same year, when his condition became stable, he returned to the Nagayo Gastrointestinal Hospital. Thereafter, he suffered from several illnesses, including gastric ulcer, several times.
In August 1911, Soseki relapsed into gastric ulcer immediately after a lecture in Kansai, and was hospitalized at the Osaka Gastrointestinal Hospital in Osaka (in 1932, Hideki YUKAWA was adopted as husband for the daughter of the family running the hospital, and in 1950, the hospital was renamed Yukawa Gastrointestinal Hospital.)
After returning to Tokyo, Soseki developed hemorrhoids and received outpatient treatment. In September 1912, he underwent reoperation of hemorrhoids. In December of the same year, he also suspended writing 'Kojin' for sickness for the first time. Until June 1913, he suffered from nervous breakdown and gastric ulcer. In September 1914, he became bedridden for gastric ulcer for the fourth time. He pursued egoism in human nature in his works and developed that into the trilogy in his latter period "Higan sugimade," "Kojin," and "Kokoro."

In March 1915, he traveled around Kyoto and collapsed there for gastric ulcer for the fifth time. From June, he started publishing the serial novel 'Michikusa' by retracing the days he was working on "Wagahai wa neko dearu." In 1916, he also suffered from diabetes. On December 9 in the same year, after attending the wedding of Yutaka TATSUNO, he had massive internal bleeding and died while working on 'Meian' at the age of 50. It is said that his last words were 'Pour water over here to keep me from dying,' he cried while opening his nightclothes in front.

On the day after his death, an autopsy was performed on his body by Mataro NAGAYO at the autopsy room of the Medical Department of Tokyo Imperial University. His brain and stomach were donated to the Department. His brain was placed in ethyl alcohol and kept in the Medical Department of Tokyo University. It weighed 1,425 grams. His posthumous Buddhist name is Bunkenin Kodo Sosekikoji. His grave is in Zoshigaya reien in Minamiikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo.

Chronological record

Dates are described according to the old calendar until the fourth year of the Meiji period.

On January 5, 1867, Soseki was born as the fifth son of Kohei Naokatsu NATSUME by his wife Chie in Ushigome Babashitayokocho in Edo (present Kikuicho, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.)
He was fostered by a family that owned a secondhand shop in Yotsuya immediately after birth, but was soon taken back to home.

In 1868, he was adopted out to Shonosuke SHIOBARA.

In 1870, he contracted smallpox caused by vaccination and was slightly scarred on his face.
The scars were so outstanding that his face became a subject of a counting song like 'Hitotsu Natsume no Onigawara.'

In 1874, he entered Public Toda gakko katoshogakko eighth grade.

In 1876, he transferred to Public Ichigaya gakko katoshogakko fourth grade.

In 1878

In April, he graduated from Ichigaya gakko jotoshogakko eighth grade.

In October, he graduated from Kinka shogakko shogakujinjoka the latter half of the second grade.

In 1879, he entered Tokyofuritsu daiichi chugaku seisokuka (predecessor of Tokyo toritsu Hibiya senior high school.)

In 1881, his real mother died. He left daiichi chugaku before graduation. He entered Private school Nishogakusha.

In 1883, he entered Seiritsugakusha in Surugadai in Kanda.

In 1884, he entered a preparatory course of Daigaku Yobimon, which was renamed daiichi kotochugakko (later daiichi kotogakko) in 1886.

In 1888, he returned to his original family register of the Natsume family. He entered the English Literature Department of daiichi kotochugakko.

In 1889, he was acquainted with Shiki MASAOKA.

In 1890, he entered the English Literature Department of Tokyo Imperial University (later Tokyo University) Bunka daigaku (Faculty of Letters University). He translated "Hojoki" into English.

In 1892

In April, he moved his registered address to Fukiagecho, Iwanaigun, in Shiribeshi Province, Hokkaido to become a commoner in Hokkaido.

In May, he became an instructor of Tokyo Senmongakko (present Waseda University.)

In 1893, he graduated from the university. He started working at Higher Normal School (later, Tokyo Higher Normal School). He began suffering from nervous breakdown.

In 1894, he was diagnosed with early tuberculosis of the lungs.

In 1895

In April, he left for the new post in Ehime prefectural Jinjo Matsuyama chugaku through the good offices of Torao SUGA.

In December, he became engaged to Kyoko, the oldest daughter of Juichi NAKANE, the Chief Secretary of the House of Peers.

In 1896

In April, he became an instructor at Kumamoto prefectural daigo kotogakko.

In June, he married Kyoko.

In July, he became a professor at daigo kotogakko.

In 1897

In June, his real father Naokatsu died.

In July, his wife Kyoko had a miscarriage.

In 1900, he left for England to study (he visited the Paris World Exposition on the way to England.)

In 1903, after returning to Japan, he became an instructor at Tokyo University.

In 1905, He started serially publishing 'Wagahai wa neko dearu' for "Hototogisu."

In 1907, he entered Asahi Shinbun Company. He started writing as a professional writer.

In 1910, he vomited an alarming amount of blood for gastric ulcer and once fell into critical condition (Shuzenji no Taikan).

In 1911, his adoptive father Shiobara came to him asking for money.

In February, he declined to accept an offer of the Doctor of Letters degree.

In August, he relapsed into gastric ulcer after a lecture in Kansai, and was hospitalized in Osaka.

In 1913, he suffered from extreme nervous breakdown. He returned his registered address from Hokkaido to Tokyo and returned to life as a commoner in Tokyo.

From around December 1915, those including Ryunosuke AKUTAGAWA joined Mokuyokai.

On December 9, 1916, his gastric ulcer worsened and he died, while working on 'Meian.'

Complete works

Soseki zenshu (1993 - 1999, Iwanami shoten, 28 volumes complete, one supplement)

Soseki bungakuzenshu (1982 - 1983, Shueisha, 10 volumes complete)


Wagahai wa neko dearu (January 1905 - August 1906, "Hototogisu"/October 1905 - May 1907, Okurashoten, Hattorishoten)

Bocchan (April 1906, "Hototogisu"/1907, included in "Uzurakago" published by Shunyodo)

Kusamakura (The Three-Cornred World) (September 1906, "Shinshosetsu"/included in "Uzurakago")

Nowaki (January 1907, "Hototogisu"/1908, included in "Kusaawase" published by Shunyodo)

Gubijinso (June 1907 - October, "Asahi Shinbun"/January 1908, Shunyodo)

Kofu (January 1908 - April, "Asahi Shinbun"/included in "Kusaawase")

Sanshiro (September 1908 - December, "Asahi Shinbun"/May 1909, Shunyodo)

Sorekara (And Then) (June 1909 - October, "Asahi Shinbun"/January 1910, Shunyodo)

Mon (The Gate) (March 1910 - June, "Asahi Shinbun"/January 1911, Shunyodo)

Higansugimade (To the Spring Equinox and Beyond) (January 1912 - April, "Asahi Shinbun"/September 1912, Shunyodo)

Kojin (December 1912 - November 1913, "Asahi Shinbun"/January 1914, Okurashoten)

Kokoro (April 1914 - August, "Asahi Shinbun"/November 1914, Iwanami Shoten)

Michikusa (June 1915 - September, "Asahi Shinbun"/October 1915, Iwanami Shoten)

Meian (May 1916 - December, "Asahi Shinbun"/January 1917, Iwanami Shoten)

Short novels and short pieces

Rondonto (January 1905, "Teikokubungaku"/1906, included in "Yokyoshu" published by Okurashoten and Hattorishoten)

Genei no tate (April 1905, "Hototogisu"/"Yokyoshu")

Koto no sorane (July 1905, "Shichinin"/included in "Yokyoshu")

Ichiya (September 1905, "Chuokoron"/included in "Yokyoshu")

Kairoko (November 1905, "Chuokoron"/included in "Yokyoshu")

Shumi no iden (January 1906, "Teikokubungaku"/included in "Yokyoshu")

Nihyakutoka (October 1906, "Chuokoron"/included in "Uzurakago")

Buncho (June 1908, "Osaka asahi"/1910, included in "Shihen" published by Shunyodo)

Yumejuya (July 1908 - August, "Asahi Shinbun"/included in "Shihen")

Eijitsushohin (January 1909 - March, "Asahi Shinbun"/included in "Shihen")

Criticisms, essays, lectures, and the like


Bungakuron (May 1907, Okurashoten, Hattorishoten)

Bungakuhyoron (March 1909, Shunyodo)


Omoidasukotonado (1910 - 1911, "Asahi Shinbun"/ August 1911, included in "Kirinukicho yori" published by Shunyodo)

Garasudo no naka (January 1915 - February, "Asahi Shinbun"/March 1915, Iwanami Shoten)


Gendai nihon no kaika (1911, at Wakayama prefectural assembly-hall/November 1911, included in "Asahi koenshu" published by Asahi Shinbun limited partnership)

Watashi no kojinshugi (1914)

Accounts of journeys

The Carlyle Museum (1905, "Gakuto"/included in "Yokyoshu")

Mankan tokorodokoro (October 1909 - December, "Asahi Shinbun"/included in "Shihen")

Collections of haiku and collections of poems

Soseki haikushu (November 1917, Iwanami Shoten)

Soseki shishu with seal stamp (June 1919, Iwanami Shoten)

New-style poetry

Jugunko (May 1904, "Teikokubungaku" Volume 10, Number 5)

Family and relatives

The Natsume family

The family crest is Igeta ni Kiku. * Related description appears in "Garasudo no naka."




Junichi NATSUME (violinist), Shinroku NATSUME (essayist)

Husband of daughter

Yuzuru MATSUOKA (writer, husband of the oldest daughter Fudeko)


Fusanosuke NATSUME (cartoonist, critic of cartoon, scholar of cartoon, he wrote an essay stating that he is psychologically close to his famous grandfather, whom he never met,) Mariko HANDO (essayist,) Yoko Matsuoka McClain (Professor Emeritus at the University of Oregon)


Kazuto NATSUME (businessman, media creator,
a grandson of Shinroku NATSUME)

Great grandchild

Rinnosuke NATSUME (illustrator, a son of Fusanosuke)


Himika NATSUME (singer, a great-grandchild of Shinroku), a female singer songwriter composing songs based on rhythm and blues and soul music.


Taro NITTA, Soseki's brother's grandson, operating a public entertainment agency
He appears on a commercial for Pizza as a look-alike of Soseki. He answered in a TV interview that "I applied for an audition for the commercial as a joke saying 'No one but I can do it.' and I got the job."




Jiro ABE

Yoshishige ABE


Hyakken UCHIDA

Toyotaka KOMIYA

Miekichi SUZUKI

Torahiko TERADA

Kansuke NAKA


Toyoichiro NOGAMI


Matsuna NOMA







Soseki and illness

Soseki became sickly as he was getting older and had a lot of diseases, including tuberculosis of the lungs, trachoma, nervous breakdown, hemorrhoids, diabetes, and gastric ulcer, of which he died. A lot of descriptions of illnesses appear not only in his works mentioning his illnesses like "Garasudo no naka" but also in his novels like "Wagahai wa neko dearu," in which Mister Kushami suffers from dyspepsia, "Meian," the opening scene of which is diagnosis of hemorrhoids, and so on. He composed a lot of haiku on his illnesses, such as 'Akikazeya Hibi no iritaru I no fukuro' (The autumn wind blows, and my stomach aches).

He did not drink alcohol but was fond of greasy foods like beef steak and Chinese food, and during the convalescence, he troubled those around him by demanding ice cream, which was rare in those days. As Jam appeared on the market in those days, he also loved Jam so badly that he ate it every day and was advised by the doctor to stop that (there is a description that Mister Kushami eats eight cans of Jam a month in "Wagahai wa neko dearu").

He frequently broke wind because of his dyspepsia, and it sounded like wind blowing through a broken paper door, so that for a while he used Broken Paper Door as his signature.

Although it is not generally known, Soseki contracted smallpox, and because of the scars, he had a sense of inferiority about his appearance. Photographers were considerate enough and no scars can be recognized on his face in photographs.

Subject of psychiatry

Psychiatrists regard it an ideal subject the way in which nervous breakdown and depression influenced the life and works of Soseki, who was among the best and brightest in those days and one of the most intellectual persons in Japan; in fact, several treatises on the subject have been presented.


A lot of critics and scholars said that 'In his later years, Soseki reached a certain state of mind through the experience of Shuzenji no Taikan.'
Sokutenkyoshi,' which is contained in Kojien, is widely known as a word coined by Soseki to express that state of mind.

The word 'Sokutenkyoshi' was not written by Soseki in his sentences, but dictated by his disciples, therefore, its meaning is not very clear (according to an opinion, it is understood as a guiding principle for human life, and according to another opinion, it is understood as an attitude in creation.)
There is an opinion that the word has been used to deify and authorize Soseki.

Word games

Soseki did a lot of word games in his works, like changing word order, substituting other Chinese characters for the original ones, and the like. For example, '単簡' for 簡単, '笑談' for 冗談, '八釜しい' for やかましい, '非道い' for ひどい, '浪漫' for ロマン, and '沢山' for たくさん. Like '兎に角,' some of them have come into general use.


Soseki coined words including '新陳代謝,' '反射,' '無意識,' '価値,' '電力,' and '肩が凝る.'

Among others, the symptom named by Soseki '肩こり' (stiff shoulders) is particularly complained of by the Japanese people and not generally complained of abroad.
It is said that most Japanese people became aware of the symptom when Soseki coined the word '肩が凝る' (have stiff shoulders.)

Chinese-style poem

Since Japanese compose a Chinese-style poem without concerning its Chinese pronunciation, the Chinese-style poems made by Japanese are generally not appreciated by Chinese. It is said, however, the Chinese-style poems written by Soseki are exceptionally beautiful in pronunciation; in 2006, these poems were published as a book "Chugokugo de kiku Natsume Soseki Kanshisen" (Kobunsha) with a CD.

Soseki's Chinese-style poems are currently available by "Soseki shichu" written by Kojiro YOSHIKAWA published by Iwanami bunko (first edition was published by Iwanami shinsho, 1967.)
Soseki's daughter's husband Yuzuru MATSUOKA has also published "Soseki no Kanshi" from Asahi Shinbun Company in 1966.
(First edition was published by Jujiya shoten in 1946)

Evaluation abroad

In contrast with his great fame in Japan, Soseki is not very famous abroad, especially in Western countries (although Soseki is relatively famous in China and Korea). Glenn Gould likes reading "Kusamakura" translated by Alan Turney, and recited part of the book in a radio program. Susan Sontag highly evaluates Soseki NATSUME as an unknown 'talented writer of varied accomplishments' in her book "Where the Stress Falls."

Soseki Zenshu Incident

When the copyright on Soseki's books expired at the end of 1946, both Oukiku shoin and Iwanami Shoten published 'Soseki Zenshu' and came into conflict with each other. For further details, see Shinroku NATSUME.

[Original Japanese]