Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




“Temple of the Wild Geese” and its author Mizukami’s background



I read the “Temple of the Wild Geese” written by Tsutomu Mizukami, who was one of Fukui Prefecture’s representative authors, on this occasion when we created the video, ”Walk around Kyoto after reading the books by Tsutomu Mizukami"
I guess that there is nothing left to say about its picturesque description and unimagined plot in the climax of the story. Meanwhile, Mizukami’s own background borrowed its main character Jinen and how influential such a one to him was is endlessly interesting to me.


Mizukami was sent to a Zen temple in Kyoto as a trainee priest when he was nine years old. His family was very poor that they would be given change by the head of the ward
doing errands. And, a child of just nine who would be nestled up to his mother walks in the snow to go to a strange temple far away. It is a very pitiable scene. I think that there are no longer such children. But at that time, actually such children as Mizukami might have been. When he looked the ticket gate out of the window in the train, he saw his mother was standing there.


While I read the novel, words such as the following from Freudian theory within my mind which a psychologist Shu Kishida mentioned in a book “ Great expressionists had problems in parent-child relationship when they were young”. Another popular Japanese author, Osamu Dazai was, too.


Tsutomu Mizukami mentioned as follows in “The Truth of the Temple of the Wild Geese” by Osamu Tsukasa and in the postscript of his collected edition.
“ I have too many tough times so I can’t talk about overcoming them. I can’t do anything.”
“ As I wrote in [The Temple of the Wild Geese], the chief priest tie a cord to my arm to
wake me up. It was hard for me.”
“In my lifetime, from nine to nineteen years old, during mentally formation,
about human suffering problem that the temple taught me, I cannot get out of mind as if it was nothing. The part will follow me all my life and it will be put in my coffin.”


In the book “The Truth of the Temple of the Wild Geese”, a chief abbot, Raitei Arima of Shokokuji Temple in Kyoto, who appeared on this site “GEN” contributed an article titled “Mizukami Literature and Zen” as follows.


“Although my generation was different, I have a certain similarity to Mizukami-san
And, the feelings for mother have common. Mizukami attaches to his mother.
I am too. Mizukami-san calls himself “apostate”. But I think it’s all right.
If he had taken the path of Zen, he must have been a foremost Zen monk.
I’m glad that he became a first-class author but I wanted him to live as
a Zen monk. If he had gone on that way, probably he had changed the Zen circle.
I think he is such an excellent person.”


The chief priest Shoan Yamamori of Zuishunin, Shokokuji Temple(the photo above), who was the model of “The Temple of the Wild Geese” was hit and killed by a car in Kyoto in 1959.
“The Temple of the Wild Geese” was released in 1961 and won the Naoki Award in the same year. (H.S)

Ninety-year-old and active picture book author Satoshi Kako



Satoshi Kako was featured in a TV program the other day.
He was born in Echizen City, Fukui Prefecture in 1926.
He wrote over 600 books so far and it is said that the number is the largest in Japan
as a picture book author.
Still now he sits the desk to write more than seven hours each day.
I think that many parents and children read his picture books in two generations.
Among his books, “Daruma-chan” series have sold over 6.5 million copies in total
and “Crow’s shop” series have sold over 2.8 million copies in total.


During the war, he aimed to be a pilot and tried to be involved in the war.
He regrets from the heart about that and hopes that children wouldn’t have
a mistaken idea unlike him and would be able to judge for themselves about
things around them. So he always writes books in such hope.


Listening to his talk, I wanted to read his books and soon borrowed some from a library.
The books written by him were filled with attraction such not only children,
but also adults get caught up. (H.S)


“Men who build a dam”
The first picture book he created.
My favorite passages : The men’s languages are rough. Rough, scary but kind.
The men aren’t scared away by snow or wind, blowing snow or storm. They never cry. “


It’s a large-scaled and precise book that you can look down at a river begins from a small stream in a mountain and becomes the sea finally.
Its new format which is a picture scroll version has just published the other day.


“Yasuke of Yamura Village”
Although it’s a commemorative publication for his 88-year old and not for sale,
you can read it in libraries across the country.
Yasuke works hard in the fields of a mountain village. Yasuke lives with his elderly mother.
One day someone appears in front of them. In the end, I couldn’t read without tears.
The last of “She is in a sunny spot”, which was a book I read several years ago,
came back to my memory, it was endearing but made me sad.

“Lessons from Madame Chic : 20 Stylish Sectrets I Learned While Living in Paris” and Zen teachings



The book became a bestseller in Japan last year, and I finally read it lately.
It shows about a lifestyle of a madam who lives in Paris, including the following


Live your daily life as something special
Snacking is not chic
When you eat, focus on enjoying food
Get rid of clothes you no longer wear
Feel happy with yourself just the way you are
Act beautifully even when you are alone
Treat people around you with good manners
Don’t buy too much
Enjoy moments of silence
Read books or newspapers
Content with what you have now
Find little pleasure
Focus on one thing


As I read through the pages, I thought what it said was similar to Zen teachings
which have much influenced the lifestyle in Japan.
I never thought that there were some common points between a madam in Paris
(and moreover, she is an aristocratic pedigree! ) and Zen teachings.
Maybe peace of mind which people ultimately get to can be narrowed beyond race or religion. (H.S)


I awoke to writers from Fukui Prefecture




I am sure that there are many writers who are from Fukui Prefecture

or writers associated with, including Natsu Miyashita

who recently received Japan Booksellers’ Award and became a topic of conversation in public,

but I have never read their books.


The other day, as I reprinted the video of PR for Fukui, “Visiting Takami Jun”

onto GEN website, I became interested in his books and read one.

It was very interesting. I was fascinated by the images of Asakusa district in Tokyo

in the book, Ikanaru Hoshi no Moto ni (“Under Whatever Star”) which has in common

with the adolescence trilogy by Makoto Shiina.



I just reprinted another video of PR for Fukui today,

“Following in the footsteps of Tsutomu Mizukami”.

And I read his mystery novel, “Temple of the Wild Geese”

which is based on the temple in which he spent his childhood was very interesting.

It was coincident for me to know about Takami and Mizukami who both are from Fukui Prefecture at the same time, even though I should have known about their books earlier, which made me want to read all of their books.