Tuesday, June 1, 2004

I'm reading the 'Romaji Nikki' by Ishikawa Takuboku (1885-1912).

The diary was kept by Takuboku from April to June of 1909. For him to have written his diary in Roman letters (Romaji) instead of the usual mixture of ideographs and kana was as unusual for his day as a diary in Esperanto is today. The fact that he could be sure that no one would read his words permitted him to set down his feelings freely and fully. It is an amazing document, particularly when one considers that it was written a bare thirty years after the Meji Restoration. It reveals a man of a depth, complexity, and modernity of thought and emotion that could not have been predicted from earlier literature. This diary was almost unknown until its full publication in 1954.
- Donald Keene

Here's a a section...

"When I have had a little money I have without hesitation gone, filled with the voice of lust, to those narrow dirty streets. since last autumn I have bought about ten prostitutes. Mitsu, Masa, Kiyo, Mine, Tsuyu, Hana, Aki. . . . I have forgotten the names of some of them. What I sought was a warm, soft, white body: a pleasure in which my body and mind would melt. But those women, the old ones and the ones of fifteen who were still children, had all slept with hundreds or thousands of men.

There is no luster to their faces, their skin is cold and rough, they are so used to men that they feel no excitement. All it amounts to is that for a little while they hire out their private parts to men, and receive a pittance in exchange. Without even bothering to undo their sashes, they say"All lright," and lie down just as they are, without the slightest embarrassment.

It doesn't make the least difference to them whether or not there is anyone on the other side of the partition who hears them. All it amounts to is that an excretory process has been effected with thousands of men. They have no desire to heal themselves with a pleasure in which the body and mind melt.

The nervous desire to seek strong excitement did not leave me even when I was receiving the excitement. I have spent the night three or four times."

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