In this talk, Dr Nadine Willems discusses the poetry of Genzō Sarashina as both historical document and literary expression.
Kotan Chronicles, a collection of texts translated into English for the first time, takes the reader into the lives of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido, and their interaction with Japanese settlers in the 1920s and 1930s, a period when the traditional world of the kotan, or Ainu village, was being destroyed by the rapid development of the island.
Sarashina Genzō, a second-generation settler born in the town of Teshikaga in 1904 lived in close proximity to the Ainu. With a powerful and distinctive voice, his poetry probes this extraordinary cultural encounter in Japan’s far north, also depicting the beauty of the Hokkaido landscape and the back-breaking work required to survive there in an era of economic hardship.
Dr Willems will show how literature acted not only as a subtle witness to changing times, but also a means of political resistance. Sarashina’s poems were translated in collaboration with Paul Rossiter, a poet in his own right, who will contribute to the lecture from the perspective of his own field.
Kotan Chronicles: Selected Poems, 1928-1943 will be available in both hardback (£15) and paperback (£10) at this event.
The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation
Daiwa Foundation Japan House
13/14 Cornwall Terrace (Outer Circle)
London NW1 4QP
Free, booking essential.
Image: Teshikaga, Hokkaido, c.1930