Everything about Natsume Sōseki that you could find in Tokyo Map

Talking about many of the Tokyo great writers in Japanese literature, Natsume Sōseki is undoubtedly one of the names that will be mentioned first. This national-level writer has created many works that have huge influence. Every one of the Japanese know well about Sōseki and even China is currently included his master works “I Am a Cat” as a syllabus in the middle school. In fact, besides reading the Sōseki’s major works, we actually found a fun way to learn more about Sōseki. Which is to outline Sōseki related spots in a map of old Tokyo, from the family to the cemetery, to explore the Sōseki's history.
【Natsume-zaka:Sōseki’s Birthplace】
Natsume-zaka (zaka means hill). Coming out from the Exit 2 of METRO Waseda Station in Tokyo, you will reach the bottom part of Natsume-zaka. The signboards of every road are very clear, but the monument to Sōseki’s Birthplace is quite difficult to find. You might easily pass by it without noticing it. After crossing the road, climbing a few steps above the hill, and you will find the monument to Sōseki’s Birthplace is next to the YayoiKen Restaurant Waseda.
Natsume Sōseki, was born in 1867 as Natsume Kin'nosuke in the town of Babashita in the Edo region of Ushigome (present Kikui, Shinjuku) where the monument is located. At that time, Natsume was born as the youngest among the eight children in a big family in this area, Natsume Sōseki's childhood was not stable. He was adopted twice in his childhood until he was 21 years old. Today, this place became Kikui-cho of Shinuku. And the name of "Kikui" is derived from the family logo of Natsume's “well lining with chrysanthemum", and "Natsume-zaka" the name of the street is derived from the surname of the family.
【Study life in Tokyo:From student to teacher】
Natsume Sōseki had gone through a few time of transferring from school to school during his study life. He has been to the Toda School (now Asakusa Seika Elementary School), the Ichigaya Elementary School (now Shinjuku Aijitsu Elementary School), and the Kinka Elementary School (now Chiyoda-ku, Ochanomizu Elementary School). Although Sōseki enrolled late for school, but because of his excellent performance in school, he get to skipped grades and spent less time to complete the full elementary school compared with the average children. Today, you can exit from A5 exit of the METRO Toei Subway Jimbocho Station and walk about 5 minutes to reach the Ochanomizu Elementary School. Then you will see the monument with the first sentence written “I Am a Cat”.
Since then, Sōseki attended the First Tokyo Middle School (now Hibiya High School), Nishogakusha (now Nishogakusha University), and Seiritsugakusha for his middle school. And when Sōseki entered the Tokyo Imperial University (now Tokyo University), he was intended to become an architect. But at last, through the idea of “Literary create better life”, Sōseki chose Literary to become part of his life.


After graduating from university, he was a former English teacher in Tokyo, Ehime, Kumamoto, and other places. While he was dispatched to teach in Ehime, Sōseki wrote a novel “Botchan” which is about his experience of living and teaching. “Botchan” is one of Sōseki’s major works. And now, you could still experience some of the related point about this novel at Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. Don’t miss it if you got a chance to travel around the city of Matsuyama and Dōgo Onsen in Ehime Prefecture.
【I'm a cat:The first published literature of Sōseki】
After teaching for 7 years, Sōseki studied abroad in the United Kingdom for 2 years. After 2 years of unpleasant study life in the United Kingdom, he returned to Tokyo in 1903 and began to work as a lecturer at Tokyo Imperial University and the First High School. At this time, his body and mind are in an unstable condition. In order to alleviate the mental weakness, under the advice of his friend Takahama Kyoshi, Sōseki began the creation of the novel “I am a cat.”


During this time, the residence of Sōseki was located at Sendagi of Hongo-ku Komagome. Before him, the famous writer Ogai Mori had lived at the same place. Today, this location had belong to the Medical University of Japan. And the house itself has been moved to the Meiji Village theme park in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture for preservation. Only the monument of Natsume Sōseki's old residence is left. The inscription on the monument comes from the Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata. Since “I Am a Cat” is created when Sōseki lived here, it is also known as “the house of cat” and “the birthplace of Sōseki’s literature”. A 5-minute walk from the Exit 2 of METRO Tōdaimae Station, and walk to the front of Nippon Medical School Alumni Association, then you will see the monument and the cute cat statue on the wall.
【Natsume Sōseki Memorial Museum:The life of a writer】
Being a writer, Natsume Sōseki is considered a late bloomer which had started publishing works at the age of 38. After writing such masterpieces as “I Am a Cat” and “Botchan” in the home of Sendagi, Sōseki resigned as a teacher in 1907 and started his new career as a professional writer in Asahi Shimbun. In the same year, he stayed in a house in Waseda-Minamichō that was called “Sōseki-Sanbo”, where he lived for nine years until he died at home due to peptic ulcer disease.
Today, Natsume Sōseki Memorial Museum was constructed at the place where Sōseki spent the last nine years of his life, and which is the best place to learn and remember this writer in Tokyo. A 5-minute walk from Exit 1 of METRO Waseda Station, and a short distance from the birthplace of Sōseki, you can see the Memorial Museum .
Natsume Sōseki Memorial Museum was completely destroyed during the Tokyo air raid in 1945. And now, people have restored the study room, the guest room and the balcony corridor according to the remaining photos and other materials. By paying an entrance fee of 300 yen, you can see the restored interior details of the memorial building on the first floor, and visit the reference room on the 2nd floor, which displays the manuscripts, letters and Sōseki’s Kimono-shaped robe.
However, precious materials are not the only things that attract the crowd to the Memorial Museum. Every detail in the museum reflects how much the host of the Museum love everything about Natsume Sōseki. For example, the signs for the tour route are all cats' images, and following the cat's footsteps, you can visit the full exhibition. Another example is the “Sōseki Cafe” at the 1st floor. They designed the Logo of the Cafe in a black cat. The coffee bean that they use here are from the Company Tamaya Kobayashi Coffee, which is also the only Coffee Company that serve the Imperial Household Agency. The signature tea menu will be the “Kuya Monaka”. The word “Monaka” means Japanese sweet made of red bean jam filling between two thin crispy wafers, and with the “Kuya” brand name on it which appeared in the novel “I Am a Cat” of Sōseki.
There is a half body of Sōseki statue and a “Gravestone of the Cat” stands in the park next to the Sōseki memorial museum. There is a line of poetry “Here lies a thunderbolt in the night” was written under the layers of the grave stone. The original gravestone was much more structured than it is now, and later it was damaged in between of the gap, and people could only reassemble the pieces. This has also become the only part of the Sōseki-Sanbo (Sōseki’s house) that has been preserved to this day.
【Zōshigaya Cemetery:Natsume Sōseki Final Resting Place 】
You will see the Zōshigaya Cemetery next to Zōshigaya Station after getting off from the Toden Arakawa Line. Natsume Sōseki died on December 9, 1916, ended his 49 years of life. He and his wife were buried together in the Zōshigaya Cemetery. The majestic and dignified tombstones were engraved with the names of the couples.
In addition to the above mentioned “I Am a Cat” and “Botchan”, the works named “The Poppy”, “Kokoro”, “Grass on the Wayside”, and also the unfinished “Light and Darkness” are also the masterpieces that was popular during the writing career of Sōseki. Outline the Sōseki’s related sport, following these monuments and memorials, you will see a different dimension of Tokyo by crossing over the time and space beyond the works of Sōseki. For example, the Soumaya stationery store which is located at Kagurazaka is the place that Sōseki purchase Japanese paper for his writing. And the stationary store is still running business now.


After a hundred years of history, there is always something that will last forever.
About the Author  史诗(Shi Shi)
Born in 1986, graduated from the Chinese Department of Peking University. Japanese translator and traveler. Traveled to more than 20 countries and visited most of the prefectures in Japan. Author of the travel guide, "Traveling to Japan”. Translated Japanese literature, culture and picture books such as “我是猫”, “你想活出怎样的人生”and “日本名所解剖书” .