Reading Kenji Miyazawa after 3.11: Region, Utopia, and Resilience

Abstract

Interpretations of Miyazawa Kenji's work have gone through several iterations since his death: from virtual obscurity he was recovered as an author of children’s literature and poetry, and, in the postwar, his writing was appreciated for its incorporation of Buddhist themes and Miyazawa himself became synonymous with provincial Japan. After the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear accident devastated northeastern Japan, Miyazawa’s work took on renewed importance, and his fiction and poetry were taken up in new readings both in and outside Japan. These included popular appreciations of the poem “Strong in the Rain,” scholarly investigations of his work’s relation to place, and examinations of his anti-modern and utopian themes. A decade after the tsunami, with the reconstruction effort in the disaster-affected region in various stages of progress, it is worth asking which readings of Miyazawa’s works have endured in the culture and which readings have dissipated or proven inert in the intervening years. We might also question which readings of his work we might privilege in order to better envision a resilient future for a region still on the road toward recovery. This presentation will briefly discuss Miyazawa’s standing in Japanese literature before taking up several of the most prominent interpretations of his works that appeared after 3.11. In a final turn, these different approaches will be evaluated and new readings will be proposed, with special attention paid to Miyazawa's lesser-known short fiction, such as "The Night of Taneyamagahara" and "Matasaburo of the Wind".



Author Information
Michael Larson, Keio University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2021
Stream: Literary Studies / All genres/ Theory

This paper is part of the ACCS2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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