Kotan Chronicles: Selected Poems 1928-1943

Kotan Chronicles: Selected Poems 1928-1943


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9784907359195
Publisher: Isobar Press
Publication date: 06/19/2017
Pages: 106
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Genzō Sarashina was born in eastern Hokkaido in 1904, the son of first-generation Japanese settlers. An anarchist, and a politically and socially engaged poet in his youth, he was a vocal critic of the Japanese government's policy of assimilation of the indigenous Ainu Community. He worked as a farmer and, until he was dismissed for refusing to teach the government-prescribed history syllabus, as a teacher in an elementary school most of whose pupils were Ainu children. His first poetry collection, Taneimo (Seed Potatoes), was published in 1930 and addressed in vigorous and colloquial language the plight of both poor migrant settlers and Ainu people. After the war, he continued to publish poetry and became a noted expert on Ainu culture. He died in 1985.

Nadine Willems obtained her PhD in History from the University of Oxford in 2015 and joined the University of East Anglia as lecturer in Japanese history in 2016. She specialises in the intellectual and cultural history of modern Japan, with a particular focus on early twentieth-century transnational revolutionary connections between Europe and East Asia. Her research interests extend to the history of ethnography, proletarian literature and the development of the discipline of geography. Prior to returning to academia in 2008, she worked in media and business in Tokyo for fifteen years.

Table of Contents




Translator’s Note

from Seed Potatoes (1930)

As the Old Man Told Me

Bear Story

Blizzard in the Kotan

Isn’t It So?

Kotan Chronicle

Scum Town

The Mad Entomologist

Kei and Potatoes

The Substitute Teacher’s Poem

Small Footprints

Poverty and Autumn Rain



Poems from the early 1930s

Kotan School Poems

Poem for Sekko

Make-Believe Work


Mamo’s Poem

Attendance Rate

The Absentee

Geographical Offence

The Meaning of ‘Barbarian’


Graduation Ceremony

National Census

Leaving the Kotan

from Songs of the Frozen Plain (1943)


Lake Mashū

Angry Okhotsk


The Grey Heron

Kuccharo Kotan

Notes on the poems

Ainu glossary

Japanese glossary

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