A Woman with Demons: The Life of Kamiya Mieko 9780773559981

Kamiya Mieko, the Japanese writer, psychiatrist, professor, and mystic, was a far more complex and intriguing figure tha

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A Woman with Demons: The Life of Kamiya Mieko

Table of contents :
A Note on Names and Documentation
1 The Child of Very Different Parents: Family Background and Early Childhood, 1914–1923
2 Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan: The Swiss Days, 1923–1926
3 “La jeunesse riche et vivante”: Readjustment to Japan and Student Life at Seijo Higher Girls’ School and Tsuda College
4 Love with Nomura Kazuhiko and the Lasting Impact of His Death
5 Progress towards the Affirmation of Life: The American Days, 1938–1940
6 A Medical Student in Japan, 1941–1944
7 An Unmarried Female Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital, 1944–1946
8 Kamiya Mieko in Her Later Years
9 By Way of a Conclusion: A Happy Ending

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A Woman with Demons

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A Woman with Demons A Life of Kamiya Mieko (–)

Yuzo Ota

McGill-ueen’s University Press Montreal & Kingston · London · Ithaca

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© McGill-ueen’s University Press ISBN : ---- ISBN : --- Legal deposit first quarter  Bibliothèque nationale du uébec Printed in Canada on acid-free paper that is % ancient forest free (% post-consumer recycled), processed chlorine free This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Aid to Scholarly Publications Programme, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. McGill-ueen’s University Press acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. We also acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP ) for our publishing activities.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Ota, Yuzo Woman with demons : a life of Kamiya Mieko, – / Yuzo Ota. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN : ---- ISBN : --- . Mieko, Kamiya, –. . Authors, Japanese – th century – Biography. . Women psychiatrists – Japan – Biography. . Psychiatrists – Japan – Biography. . Japan – Biography. I. Title.

DS ..KO  .’’ C --

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A Note on Names and Documentation Introduction



 The Child of Very Different Parents: Family Background and Early Childhood, –

 Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan: The Swiss Days, –


 “La jeunesse riche et vivante”: Readjustment to Japan and Student Life at Seijō Higher Girls’ School and Tsuda College


 Love with Nomura Kazuhiko and the Lasting Impact of His Death


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 Progress towards the Affirmation of Life: The American Days, –


 A Medical Student in Japan, –


 An Unmarried Female Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital, –


 Kamiya Mieko in Her Later Years


 By Way of a Conclusion: A Happy Ending









First, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the late Professor Kamiya Noburō, the husband of Kamiya Mieko, the subject of this biography. He received me most graciously at his home in Takarazuka, Japan, during my several research trips and permitted me to examine his wife’s papers. Without his kind cooperation this biography would never have been written. I would also like to express my indebtedness to Ms Sumikawa Midori, the niece of Nomura Kazuhiko, who figures prominently in this biography, for kindly allowing me to read a substantial part of the “diary” he left at his premature death. His “diary” was still unpublished while I prepared this book. A fairly large number of people helped me in various ways in connection with this biography. Just to name a few, Professor Haga Tōru gave me a chance to give a talk on Kamiya Mieko in July  at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Kokusai Nihon Bunka Kenkyū Sentā) in Kyoto. It was this talk that first gave me the idea of writing a book on Kamiya. Mr Tsu-

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rumi Shunsuke not only shared with me his insightful views of Kamiya Mieko and the people around her based on his personal acquaintance but encouraged me to get in touch with Professor Kamiya Noburō as the first step towards preparation of this biography. Cyril H. Powles, Marjorie Powles, Michael Szonyi, and the late Irene M. Kunii, my longtime friends, kindly read my manuscript and made valuable comments and suggestions. I would also like to thank the reviewers of my manuscript for their carefully written reports and valuable suggestions. I am also grateful to Ms Claire Gigantes who was assigned by McGill-ueen’s University Press to copyedit the manuscript and did so admirably. Last but not least, sincere thanks are due to Dr Roger Martin, Ms Joan McGilvray, and all the others at McGill-ueen’s University Press who worked towards publication of this book. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of these people, including those whom I have not named, who helped me, directly or indirectly, to write and publish Kamiya Mieko’s biography. I began researching this book in  during a sabbatical leave from McGill University while I was staying in Japan as a Japan Foundation Fellow. Apart from minor revisions, I finished writing during my last sabbatical leave from McGill University in –. I would like to thank the Japan Foundation and McGill University for facilitating my work. Yuzo Ota Montreal, June 



A Note on Names and Documentation

Japanese names in this biography follow the normal Japanese order, which gives the family name first, followed by the personal name. However, there are some exceptions. When referring to Japanese authors, including myself, of books and articles in European languages, if the authors themselves place their personal names before their family names, I have mantained this order. When citing from Kamiya Mieko’s unpublished writings, I have occasionally substituted fictional names for real names to protect the privacy of persons mentioned.

When I cite published materials, the sources are normally indicated in endnotes. When I cite unpublished materials among the Kamiya Mieko Papers, the sources are often identified in the text itself. The most important category of unpublished materials is her shuki (shuki means literally “what is written by hand,” and any unprinted writings by

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Kamiya found among her papers, other than her letters, could be subsumed under this category). With the exception of a few sources for which there is a more convenient method of documentation, I identify such sources with the term shuki followed by the date. The date that she assigned to an event may not necessarily be the date on which she recorded it. However, for the sake of convenience, I assumed that when she wrote about an event under the date, for example, of  January , she actually did so on that day, unless there is clear evidence that this was not the case. When I quote from Kamiya’s writings in Japanese, I use my own English translations without stating that the original is in Japanese. When I quote or translate from her writings in English, French, and German, I indicate in the text or endnote the original language of the quotation.

x Note on Names and Documentation


Kamiya Mieko,1 whose life spanned the period between  and , is remembered in Japan for her work in several different fields. Among other things, she was a doctor who treated psychiatric patients among leprosy victims; an author of books, such as Ikigai ni tsuite (What Makes Our Life Worth Living),2 dealing largely with existential questions; a translator from the original of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations and some of Michel Foucault’s books; and a teacher who taught at several institutions in Japan, including Tsuda College, her alma mater, and left a lasting impression on her students. In a letter written in , Kamiya told a friend that What Makes Our Life Worth Living, published in , was then in its twenty-second edition.3 Most of her writings are still readily available. Her collected works in thirteen volumes published by the reputable Tokyo firm Misuzu Shobō between  and 4 are still in print and continue to find many readers. Not only does she remain

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popular as an author but people of the highest intellectual calibre in Japan acknowledge her greatness. “She was a saint,”5 writes a leading intellectual of present-day Japan. Until a few years ago, however, despite the continued popularity of her writings, there were few studies of Kamiya Mieko. Now that is changing. Beginning in  with Ejiri Mihoko’s biography, four books on Kamiya have been published in Japan in quick succession.6 She has also been the subject of a few television documentaries in the last few years, raising her profile even further in Japan.7 Kamiya, however, has no profile outside Japan. Having published two English-language articles in an international journal of psychiatry,8 she may be known to some specialists in the field outside Japan. But among the general public she is completely unknown. Even among Japan specialists, very few seem to know who she was. The biggest reason for this must be the language barrier. Although Kamiya had a remarkable knowledge of European languages, most of her publications with a few exceptions were in Japanese and the main stage of her activities after her student days was Japan. I believe that Kamiya deserves to be better known. To be sure, her intellectual achievement was severely curtailed by the fact that she was a housewife with relatively little free time during what were potentially her most creative years. But this only makes her life story more dramatic and interesting. Her life was in some ways as remarkable as that of Simone Weil (–) with whom she had certain traits in common – an interest in Plato and other classical Greek authors, a wide-ranging intellectual



embrace of natural sciences and humanities, strong identification with human suffering, mysticism, a passionate love of music, especially that of Bach – though they were very different in other respects.9 In this biography, I hope to present Kamiya and her life in a way that is substantially different from other interpretations. To begin with, I would like to avoid hagiography. Kamiya’s life was a beautiful one, but I do not think that it was internally simple. Kamiya herself was keenly aware of the complexity of her personality with its many contradictory impulses. “A person possessed with seven demons – that truly is me,”10 she once wrote in her posthumously published diary. And later: “No matter whom I meet, I have an uneasy sense as if I were deliberately hiding something of my life from that person. That is because I behave as an ordinary housewife or, at most, only as ‘a housewife with a linguistic talent.’ What a complex, terrifying [osoroshii] person I am really. Very few people know this, however.”11 Previous biographers of Kamiya have not done justice to this remarkable complexity. Kamiya’s life has usually been told with a focus on what appeared to be her philanthropic side. Thus, the realization of her youthful desire to work for leprosy patients despite the many obstacles she had to overcome – among them opposition from her father and her illnesses, including tuberculosis and cancer – was selected as the centrepiece of her life story. Clearly, this was a very important part of her life. But apart from the question of her real motive in working with leprosy patients (I will deal



with this question later), I wonder whether it was the main plot. I wonder whether the central theme of her life was not rather her groping towards the discovery and fulfilment of her real mission in life as a writer. A friend once remarked to Kamiya, “You must be at a loss what to do when you get up in the morning, so many things you would like to do, and could do well.”12 As Kamiya was talented in so many ways, her search for her real mission lasted a very long time. In the notebook that I call Toba Mitsuko Notebook after the pen name a youthful Kamiya wrote on the cover and in which she listed largely autobiographical topics for her future writings, she says in the entry for  January , I must not die before writing on the topics listed in this notebook. Even to the detriment of all other works, I should not fail to write on these topics. For, only this is what is unique to me. Other people besides myself can engage in medical research and practice. Obviously, other people can also teach languages and do translation. Other people can also replace me in the work of helping N [Kamiya Noburō, her husband] in his research (though the true significance of my helping him, of course, lies elsewhere). Other people can also discharge the duties of a mother besides me. However, nobody else has a personality structure like mine, has had experiences like mine, and has felt

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and thought as I have. To give expression to them in writing can be done by nobody else but me. Oh, God, if this is truly my mission, please give me the will and power to accomplish it. Please keep me alive until I complete this work. By the time she wrote these words in January , she had come to feel that to leave behind her writings that expressed what she felt and thought was more important than anything else. Kamiya’s conviction that her true mission lay in writing remained with her to the end of her life. She often reiterated the intention and prayer that she had committed to her diary in January . In the same notebook, for example, on  July , she wrote: “As I prepare statistical tables for my dissertation, I again, in fact many many times, repeat the vow mentioned above from the very bottom of my heart.” The vow, of course, was the vow to complete her writings on the topics listed in the notebook before her death. Although circumstances prevented her from engaging in literary work in earnest until quite late in her life, she finally managed to publish What Makes Our Life Worth Living in . It was her first book, if we disregard her translations, and it was a major step towards fulfilling her mission. Almost to the last moment of her life, she strove to give expression to her intensely lived experiences and thoughts. The final part of the manuscript of Kamiya’s autobiography Henreki (Wanderings) was not sent to the Misuzu Shobō, her publisher, until  October , a week before



her death.13 By completing the autobiography, however, Kamiya seems to have fulfilled her vow more or less.14 Another area in which I would like to offer a new insight concerns the motivation for Kamiya’s work with leprosy patients. Many people interpreted this as a sheer philanthropy on her part. In their view Kamiya was a fortunate and gifted person from a good family whose life left little to be desired and who was struck by the misery of people far less fortunate than herself – somewhat like Albert Schweitzer, who had started working with people afflicted with disease, including lepers, in the Congo before she was born. Against this view – that it was out of compassion or pity that she decided to work for leprosy patients – I would like to suggest, following Mr Tsurumi Shunsuke,15 that Kamiya had been in despair about her life around the time she conceived the idea of working with leprosy patients, due to the death of a young man whom she loved. In my view, the farreaching and long-lasting impact of this loss upon Kamiya is a crucial key to understanding her life. In fact, Kamiya’s most important work, What Makes Our Life Worth Living, cannot be understood properly unless one realizes that the author had once lost sight of what made her life worth living. In chapter , titled “What Destroys Our Sense That Life is Worth Living,” Kamiya quotes from “the writing of a girl who lost through death the young man with whom she had intended to share the future”: “With a sudden, tremendous bang, the earth around my feet collapsed and the heavy sky fell into it.

xvi Introduction

Unwittingly I covered my face with my hands and helplessly crouched in the middle of a road. I had a sensation of an endless fall into a dark abyss. He is gone, and with that I have lost the life which I had been living until his death. My life will never never return to what it had been. From now on, how and for what can I live?”16 This girl was Kamiya herself, although she never avowed it openly. The young man named Nomura Kazuhiko whom Kamiya loved died on  January , and she learned of his death the following day. Thus in her shuki (see the note on names and documentation, above) for  January , she writes: “The sensation, which I had five years ago today, that both the heaven and the earth were collapsing, has recurred many times today to wring my heart.” And again on  January : “The sensation as if everything collapses which I had when I learned of his death – it is like my life itself.” The knowledge of the crushing impact that Nomura Kazuhiko’s death had upon Kamiya enables us to see What Makes Our Life Worth Living as an intensely personal book despite the surface appearance of scholarly detachment and objectivity created by the long list of books and articles Kamiya cited and the absence of overt references to her own experience. In chapter , “Discovery of a New Meaning of Life,” Kamiya discusses various processes by which a lost sense of meaning in life can be replaced. One of the processes she mentions is “henkei” (transformation) and she writes as follows: “The most common type of transformation is trans-



formation of love towards a particular person into love towards a larger number of people.” Then she quotes the following lines from “Shunjitsu kyōsō” (“Crazy Thoughts on a Spring Day”) of Nakahara Chūya (– ), one of the most important Japanese poets of the twentieth century: Because your loved one died, Because that person is really dead, Because nothing can alter that fact, For the sake of that person, for the sake of that person, You must decide to serve others, You must decide to serve others.17 Kamiya must have felt as if the poet was talking about her; her desire to serve leprosy patients was born in the spring of  only a few months after Nomura Kazuhiko’s death, as we shall see in chapter . The preceding lines of the poem, which Kamiya did not quote, must have struck her even more as an expression of her own feeling. When your loved one died, You must commit suicide. When your loved one died, There is no other way out but that. However, if your karma (?) [sic] is too bad



And if you find yourself still alive, You must decide to serve others. You must decide to serve others. That Kamiya was often tempted by the idea of suicide after the death of Nomura Kazuhiko is reflected in her poem “A Haunted Pool” (“Ma no fuchi”),18 dated  April , less than three months after the death of Nomura Kazuhiko. The story told by this poem is as follows: the narrator “I” is tempted by a voice coming from the deep pool near her school to drown herself. The idea of death is quite tempting to her with her “broken heart” but the spell cast by the voice is broken by the school bell and she runs back to school without committing suicide. Her suicidal inclination after Nomura Kazuhiko’s death is overtly expressed in her letter of  December 19 to his parents, Nomura Kodō, a famous popular writer and music critic, and Nomura Hana: “Let me thank you most heartily once again for all your love which you have shown towards me. It is entirely thanks to you both that I have managed to refrain from committing suicide.” Kamiya’s life was characterized by her long struggle to recover from the loss of Nomura Kazuhiko and to make some sense of that loss. However, this crucial aspect of her life has been virtually ignored – not deliberately but because in those of her writings that have been published so far, Kamiya never mentions the loss of Nomura Kazuhiko directly. The few



allusions to his death are too oblique to be recognized. Probably the least oblique among them is the following passage, which Kamiya wrote more than twenty-five years after his death: “I had to confront Death quite early. I collided with it headlong. Death came as my destiny, as something which stood in front of me blocking my way. That shock was too fatal. After that, other deaths, even the death of persons closest to me, in comparison, could no longer rouse within me emotions of the same intensity. It was perhaps a kind of immunity. I have come to live as if I were always looking at Death face to face.”20 This published passage, which numerous people must have read, points to Kamiya’s own understanding of her life as one that in a sense began with a terrible loss that had a lasting effect upon her. This isolated passage, however, was not enough to call people’s attention to the importance of this early loss and so far nobody except myself has tried to interpret her life in that light.21 The absence of overt references in Kamiya’s published works to the death of Nomura Kazuhiko or to her relationship with him should not be attributed to a desire to keep these events secret. From the topics listed in the Toba Mitsuko Notebook we know that Kamiya had intended to deal with her relationship with him in a few works, especially one entitled “Hatsushimo” (“First Frost”). That she did not mean to guard her relationship with Kazuhiko as a secret can be seen from the following quotation from her shuki of  December :



When we come to think of it, a fairly large number of writers, especially Tōson [Shimazaki Tōson –, a writer whom Kamiya regarded very highly], used their own personal materials for their writings to the extent that we might be justified to say that they wrote autobiographic works from the beginning to the end. Accordingly, there is no reason for me to hesitate to write on my own experiences. What matters is to produce a work which penetrates to the essence of things through my own experiences. As I gained this conviction, I started writing “Hatsushimo.” Kamiya Mieko’s collected works in thirteen volumes is a considerable achievement judged by ordinary standards. However, Kamiya, one of the most remarkable women of twentieth-century Japan, is not really a person to be judged by ordinary standards. What she actually achieved as an author may appear to be relatively meagre considering her extraordinary talent. In my opinion, the most interesting volume of all is The Diary of Younger Days (Wakaki hi no nikki), which prints a large proportion of her diary from the middle of April  to the end of . Kamiya kept her diary without any thought of publishing it in future. If we remember that two more volumes of her collected works are devoted to her diary and correspondence, the quantity of her writings for publication seems relatively



modest. ualitatively as well, they do not quite come up to the standards that one would expect of a person of such dazzling talents as revealed in her Diary of Younger Days. The discrepancy between Kamiya’s early promise and her actual achievement is related to the fact that in the Japan of her time a woman could not fulfil an intellectual vocation as easily as her male counterpart, especially if she decided to marry. Household chores were shouldered almost exclusively by women, and there were not yet washing machines and other electric appliances to lighten the burden of housework. Even when Kamiya was an unmarried woman with far more free time than she had after her marriage, she was painfully aware of the disadvantage of being a woman with intellectual aspirations, as she wrote in her diary: “Life demands a huge price from a woman – almost her entire existence – in the form of everyday life. Even in my present mode of life, I have to spend a much greater amount of time and energy than a man for the sake of everyday life – not in an abstract manner as is the case with a man but in a really concrete, urgent manner to provide daily food and clothes for the household.”22 After her marriage, the obstacles to fulfilment of her intellectual vocation multiplied many times, especially since Kamiya wholeheartedly wanted to be a good wife and mother. The perceived discrepancy between her promise and her achievement may be one reason why her death at the age of sixty-five was thought by some to have been premature.23 In my



view, however, if we take into account not only her writings but also her life as a whole, the impression of a premature death vanishes. Her life with all the possibilities that remained largely unrealized until the end would appear like a beautiful work of art worthy of our admiration and contemplation. In this book I shall try to convey my understanding of Kamiya Mieko and her life as a whole. However, I concentrate heavily on the period before her marriage, which occurred in , roughly in the middle of her life. I devote only two short chapters to the second half of her life after marriage. Since many of Kamiya’s close relatives and friends are alive, I have to balance the demand, imposed upon me as her biographer, to draw her portrait as truthfully as possible, with the need to protect the privacy of people, especially her close relatives, who figure in the unpublished part of the Kamiya Mieko Papers, which I was allowed to examine. As a pragmatic solution, I decided to make Kamiya’s marriage in  the dividing line. For the period before that, I have used pertinent unpublished materials from the Kamiya Mieko Papers to narrate the story of her life. For the periods after her marriage, I have refrained from quoting directly from any of Kamiya Mieko’s unpublished writings with the exception of a few quotations that contain nothing that might infringe upon the privacy of other people. I have tried to reconstruct her life path almost exclusively on the basis of the materials already published in her collected works. This



method naturally diminishes the value of this book as a regular biography. However, to write a regular biography of Kamiya Mieko was not necessarily my aim. My main interest has been to elucidate the history of her inner rather than her external life. I hope that the reader will get a clear impression of this remarkable Japanese woman from my book.



A Woman with Demons

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The Child of Very Different Parents: Family Background and Early Childhood, –

Kamiya Mieko (née Maeda) was born in Okayama on  January . Mieko was the second child and eldest daughter of five children born to Maeda Tamon (– ) and Maeda Fusako (née Kanazawa). The father followed the most prestigious educational course for the future elite of Japan, studying first at the Number One Higher School and then at the Law Faculty of the Imperial University of Tokyo (now the University of Tokyo). He became a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Home Affairs after his graduation in . Professionally, he was on the whole quite successful. At the peak of his career he served as minister of education in the Higashikuninomiya cabinet during the period immediately after World War II

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(from August  to January ). Mieko was born while her father was assigned to a post in Okayama Prefecture, three decades earlier. Maeda Tamon’s successful educational and professional record does not mean that he grew up in a privileged environment. His was a case of upward social mobility, possible even in pre-World War II Japan for bright children from humble families who were able to achieve academic success. He became a member of the elite but not by birth. In fact, as a child and adolescent he did not seem to have a very promising future. Maeda Tamon’s father was a merchant in Osaka. Mieko characterizes her grandfather’s shop as “a shop selling picture books.”1 In , the year after Tamon’s birth, he moved to Tokyo and engaged in a succession of different businesses.2 Around the time that Tamon was a student in higher school, his father owned a shop in downtown Tokyo (Ginza) and sold Japanese playing cards, which were often used for gambling.3 Initially Tamon’s father did not allow him to continue his formal education after he had finished primary school. He was made to help in the shop from childhood on. At the end of each month he was also sent to collect payment from customers for goods sold on credit. It was by overcoming considerable difficulties and passing the entrance examination to Rikkyō Middle School, which he had taken secretly, that Maeda Tamon managed to obtain his father’s grudging consent to let him receive further education. This made his successful career of later years possible.

A Woman with Demons

As we have seen, clearly Mieko’s father did not have a privileged upperclass upbringing. More or less the same can be said about Mieko’s mother.4 She was born to a wealthy family but her father, who was a silk merchant, died when she was seven. Then, the family house was destroyed by arson. Her mother, who suddenly became penniless, had to support herself and her five children by teaching sewing and sewing clothes for other people. Mieko’s mother was thus brought up in a family that lacked the money to give her more than a primary school education. Fortunately for her, the city of Tomioka where she lived selected two pupils each year who had distinguished themselves academically and these students were sent to Tokyo for further study. It was thanks to this scholarship that Mieko’s mother was able to study at Furendo Jogakkō (Friends’ Girls’ School), a uaker mission school, for five years and thus receive a good education for a girl of her generation. Mieko’s father and mother had very different personalities. Mieko, who became aware of her own complex personality and of conflicting impulses within herself, attributed this complexity to traits she inherited from both of her parents. In her quest for true self-knowledge, she repeatedly attempted to understand her parents and what she had inherited from them. In her shuki of  June , for example, when Mieko was thirty-one years old and a psychiatrist affiliated with the psychiatric clinic of Tokyo University Hospital, she attempted an analysis of her parents’ personali-

The Child of Very Different Parents 

ties. The following are the personality traits she ascribed to her mother (non-Japanese words that Mieko used in the original are italicized): Tenacious. Competitive. Optimistic. La logique des sentiments. Romantic. Emotional. Good-natured. A capacity for devotion. A love of description in detail (When Mother talks about something, she never talks about it in a concise manner focusing her attention on important points. She begins by giving a concrete description of the background of the matter in question and talks about it in detail chronologically from the beginning. On top of that, her description is purely subjective. She could have become a novelist.) A strange mixture of what is pragmatic and what is artistic. A dreamer. A good intuitive understanding. Nimble. Zyklothymie. Sociable. Simple. Lack of self-reflection. Her self is always unified. Extrovert. Positive. As for the personality traits of her father, she writes: “Lack of tenacity. Resigned. Pessimistic. La logique de la raison. Self-righteous. Isolated. The ability to give a concise account of important points of a matter. Ill-natured. (A tendency to doubt, despise, and reject people.) Impractical and theoretical. A poor intuitive understanding. Heavy. Schizothymie. Unsociable. Complex. A tendency to self-reflection. Divided self. Introvert. Negative.”

A Woman with Demons

That Mieko attempted an analysis of her parents’ personalities in order to understand herself is clear from the words that follow the above: From both Super-strong ego, passion, and energy. The static side of me – from Father The dynamic side of me – from Mother. Mieko was aware that she had inherited important traits from both parents. In one respect, however, she was more like her father than her mother, that is, in her divided self. As Matsumoto Takashi, her paternal uncle, writes, Mieko’s father was also born of parents “whose personalities were extremely different.”5 Mieko’s father inherited personality traits from them both. He also harboured contradictory impulses within himself. For this reason Mieko’s father understood her better than her mother did. Thus it may well have been a remark made by her father, probably when she was a teenager, that jolted her into a realization of her complex personality. While at Karuizawa, a resort town in Nagano Prefecture where her family had a cottage, Tamon said, “Various sides of you are conflicting with one another.”6 In Toba Mitsuko Notebook, Mieko wrote, “My father’s remark startled me.” The great intimacy that eventually evolved between Mieko and her father was probably partly due to a mutual understanding based on this similarity.

The Child of Very Different Parents 

About Mieko’s childhood the most important source of information is her own writings.7 In fact, we have very little other material on her early life. Mieko remembers the period before her departure for Switzerland with her family at the age of nine as a rather unhappy time. As an adult she was surprised to learn that her brother, Maeda Yōichi, who was less than three years older than she was and who later became a respected professor at the University of Tokyo, remembered his own childhood as “a blue sky without a speck of cloud.”8 Although Mieko herself attributed this mostly to the innate difference in their personalities,9 perhaps we might suggest a few other reasons. As the “Chronology” of Kamiya Mieko’s life10 and “Concise Chronology” of Maeda Tamon’s life11 show, in May  when Mieko was four years old, her father left Japan on an official mission and was away until October . In April  her mother also left Japan12 to join her husband in the United States, leaving her children in the care of relatives. The timing of the parents’ absence and the different milieus in which Mieko and her brother were placed during their parents’ absence probably combined to make this period more traumatic for Mieko than for her brother. Mieko, who was only five, was probably too young to understand that her parents would be back quite soon. In her autobiography, Mieko says, “In the earliest memories of my childhood, my mother is absent.”13 Didn’t the absence of her mother just when Mieko’s conscious self was awakening aggravate what she believed to be her innate sensitiveness? During the parents’ absence, Yōichi was placed in the care of the

A Woman with Demons

paternal relatives. Mieko was placed in the care of the maternal relatives. Yōichi’s reference to his childhood as “a blue sky without a speck of cloud” leads to the conjecture that he fared better in the care of his father’s family than Mieko in the care of her mother’s. At any rate, we know through Mieko’s recollection that she did not have a very happy time in the house of her uncle, Kanazawa Tsuneo, to which she moved with her two-yearold sister during her parents’ absence. Kanazawa Tsuneo, her mother’s youngest brother, was a young bureaucrat and still a bachelor at the time, living with his mother. He soon resigned his job to become an evangelist of non-church Christianity but while Mieko lived with him he was apparently “in the midst of a painful search after his true calling.”14 He was a very serious young man without much understanding of children. He treated Mieko strictly and scolded her often. She reminisces in her autobiography: “All I remember about our relationship at that time is that of being scolded by him again and again. At one time, probably I had been particularly naughty, he bound me to a trunk of a pine tree with a rope, and shouted at me repeatedly, ‘Apologize!’ I just cried and cried, without even understanding for what an apology was demanded.”15 Whether as a result of her childhood experiences or not, Mieko seems never to have become really cordial towards this uncle, although for several years during her adolescence she attended Christian meetings presided over by him and helped in his work in various ways – as an organist, a

The Child of Very Different Parents 

proofreader for his magazine Shin bō ai (Faith Hope Love), treasurer, and so on. “Non-church” or “no-church” Christianity (mukyōkai) refers to the Christian groups in Japan influenced by Uchimura Kanzō (–), one of the most important Christian thinkers of modern Japan, who held that membership in a church was not a prerequisite for salvation. Mieko’s father attended Uchimura’s meetings while he was a student, and although he eventually became a uaker, among his friends from his student days were many who had attended Uchimura’s meetings and not a few who became prominent figures in non-church Christian circles. Some of the people for whom Mieko had the highest respect, such as Mitani Takamasa, were non-church Christians. Mieko, however, who was born into a milieu with several ties to the non-church Christian groups, eventually came to think quite poorly of them in general. I suspect that her uncle Kanazawa was partly responsible for that. Mieko’s comments about Kanazawa in her autobiography in reference to the time when she was a member of his Christian group betray considerable reservations about him, as the following quotation shows: My uncle lacked the wide appeal which prominent non-church evangelists, such as Mr Kurosaki Kōkichi, Mr Tsukamoto Toraji, and Mr Yanaihara Tadao had. (In the case of Mr Yanaihara his appeal was enhanced by the authority he had as a university professor.) Accordingly, the monthly journal he published had

 A Woman with Demons

a small circulation, and the number of Christians who attended his Sunday meetings was also small. His teachings, which were hammered into my young and immature mind, included many ideas which were difficult to understand, such as, “Justice is more important than love,” “This world is a vale of tears,” and “A marriage is a cause for affliction, but you should get married, even if you know that you will be unhappy through your marriage.” However, because some people praised my uncle for the purity of his faith, I attended his meetings for many years without giving it much thought.16 During Mieko’s stay in her uncle’s house, her unhappiness was aggravated by the illness of her little sister. She had no other playmate, and the thought that her sister might die, a thought provoked by the daily arrival of the doctor in a rickshaw with a sinister-looking black hood, filled her with dark musings about death.17 With the return of her parents to Japan in the autumn of , normalcy returned to Mieko’s life. The family settled down in “a little house in Shimo-Ochiai, Tokyo.”18 After Mieko’s father had started his career as a bureaucrat, he had been assigned to various posts in the provinces and abroad. This frequent transfer – from Gunma to Kanagawa (), Kanagawa to Okayama (), from Okayama to Nagasaki (), from Nagasaki to Truk Island in Micronesia under Japanese occupation (),

The Child of Very Different Parents 

and so on19 – must have been a bit unsettling for his family, although the children did not accompany him overseas until he was assigned to a post in Switzerland in . From  on Tokyo became basically the stage for his activities, although he still had to serve overseas or outside Tokyo occasionally. When it came time for Mieko to enter a primary school, her parents sent her to Shimo-Ochiai Primary School in the neighbourhood. They had chosen Seijō Primary School, a well-known private school, for her brother, Yōichi, and her younger siblings were all to start their primary school education at Seijō. Mieko alone was sent to the local public school.20 Apparently her mother had wanted to send her to Sacred Heart Girls’ School, a Catholic school where British nuns taught English to pupils from Grade One onwards, but her parents failed to secure admission for Mieko. Mieko was happy at Shimo-Ochiai Primary School. The school was not demanding and, according to Mieko herself, it was best suited to a nervous child like her.21 Indulgent, kind teachers and a friendly child in an upper grade with whom she walked to school every morning remained in her memory. Years later, looking at a photograph of herself taken at the time, Mieko felt that the little girl with a big straw hat walking with a friend along a muddy country road in boots was a picture of “simple joie de vivre.”22 However, the happiness of the little Mieko at the countrified school lasted only for a year. In Grade Two, her mother somehow managed to


A Woman with Demons

send her to Sacred Heart Girls’ School, where she remained until the first term of Grade Four. The atmosphere of the new school did not agree with her. Mieko explains: At S School [Sacred Heart Girls’ School] everything catered to aristocratic taste. The pupils were mostly daughters of peers, men of wealth and other members of the upper class. Many pupils came to the school in a chauffeured car in an age when automobiles were still rare in Japan. Use of conceited language of the upper class [asobase kotoba], strict regulations, the teachers clad in black nun’s costume – for an uncouth girl from a “country school” the change was just too much. I was overwhelmed by what we might call a sense of inferiority due to difference of class.23 At that time Mieko’s father was already a deputy mayor of Tokyo. His position was probably not inferior to that of the fathers of Mieko’s classmates. However, as we have seen, both her father and her mother grew up under modest circumstances. Thus, while Mieko’s parents were both well educated, their upbringing and modest lifestyle as people with no inherited property to speak of must have set them apart from many of the parents of Mieko’s classmates. The fact that Mieko entered in Grade Two aggravated the problem of adjusting to the school. English was not part of

The Child of Very Different Parents 

the curriculum at Shimo-Ochiai Primary School. At Sacred Heart Girls’ School, she had to study English with classmates who had begun learning English in Grade One. Altogether, her time at Sacred Heart Girls’ School was not a happy period of her life. “Is it because of the sense of inferiority I felt at this school that I have been feeling a kind of resistance towards the rich and the upper class throughout my life?” Mieko wondered.24 Whatever its origin, Mieko’s tendency to feel uncomfortable about occupying a privileged position awoke early and was already in evidence during her Swiss days, as we shall see. It was with a tremendous sense of relief that Mieko learned that she was going to Switzerland with her family, accompanying her father who had been appointed to the position of Japanese representative at the International Labour Organization in Geneva. “I jumped for joy. At any rate, I would be able to escape from my present, painful, strict school,”25 wrote Mieko about her immediate reaction to the news of the family’s imminent move to Switzerland. She shared her news with the only good friend she had made at Sacred Heart Girls’ School, a niece of a well-known writer and the daughter of the president of a news agency. Mieko’s friend heartily congratulated her but also expressed her regret at having to part from her. Nobody else among her classmates seemed to give any thought to Mieko’s imminent departure. “Apparently I was so insignificant in their eyes,”26 she concluded.


A Woman with Demons

On the brink of her Swiss sojourn, “the eldest daughter personality,” as she put it, was already visible in little Mieko. There was her tendency, for example, to behave in a motherly fashion towards her younger siblings. The marriage of Mieko’s parents was stormy. For Mieko the violent quarrels that occasionally erupted between them were traumatic “nightmares.” However, despite the shock of seeing her mother storming out of the house in the middle of the night, which happened from time to time, she did not forget her younger siblings: “Crying and shouting ‘Please don’t go! Please, don’t go!’, I was about to run after my mother, when I realized that I should not wake my little sister sleeping nearby. Thus, I sobbed as quietly as possible, covering my sister’s ears with my hands. The first little one I had to spare from the nightmare was a sister. Then, another sister was added to her, and finally also a brother. ‘If Mother leaves us, I will protect you all,’ I was always muttering to myself what was surely beyond my power.”27 Later in her life Mieko not only gave people the impression that she was motherly, but she consciously embraced the idea of the “Urmutter,” or archetypal mother, as her personal ideal and wanted to be a mother to everyone.28 Mieko’s parents seem to have quarrelled more than the average couple. Their personalities were perhaps too different to allow for a really harmonious relationship. Mieko continued to suffer from “the lack of harmony in my parents relations” as she later discussed it in English in her shuki of

The Child of Very Different Parents 

 January . She apparently felt that she understood each of her parents much better than they understood each other, because she had inherited traits from each of them. “I have them both. They are both unique to me. Their disharmony is like a fight within me of two different souls.” It is not so difficult to imagine the general nature of the “many disillusions” that, according to Mieko’s shuki of the same date, her mother had experienced in her marital life. Mieko’s father was not at all a domestic type. Shortly after his marriage, according to his brother, he declared to his wife, “Please understand that I will not concern myself at all with household matters.”29 It seems that in fact he did leave household matters entirely to his wife. Since Mieko’s father did not share the job of child rearing and seldom did anything for his children, he was virtually a stranger to them when they were small. Yōichi, who as a boy did not at all mind being scolded by his mother, was indignant when his father scolded him: he felt that, as a virtual stranger, he had no right to do so.30 When Mieko’s father’s sister-inlaw told him that it would have been better if he had remained a bachelor, he did not deny it. He said, “You may be right.”31


A Woman with Demons


Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan: The Swiss Days, –

Mieko’s Swiss days spanned three years, from the age of nine to twelve. Mieko later gave this period great significance in her autobiography. But her stay in Switzerland was wonderful to her at the time as well. In a school composition titled “Jeneva no gakkō” (“My Schools in Geneva”) written in January , roughly a year after her return to Japan, the fourteen-year-old Mieko characterizes her school life in Geneva “as the most enjoyable time of my life so far.”1 One of the things that contributed to her happiness in Switzerland was that there Mieko was free from the “nightmares” of her parents’ quarrels. She attributed this partly to the structure of their large three-storey house in

p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p

which “the parents’ bedroom upstairs, the room which I shared with my sisters, my brother’s room, and the guest room were all clearly separated and each had a toilet and a bath. Thus, the children led their life completely separated from their parents’ life.”2 In November , roughly a month after her arrival in Geneva, Mieko started attending a private elementary school.3 The school was attached to the Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau and was only two blocks away from Mieko’s house and thus within easy walking distance. The principal of this school was Piaget, the famous psychologist, but Mieko was not aware of that then. On her first day Mieko “was taken to the school by Mother and a Japanese lady who had been living in Geneva for some time,”4 and probably also by an émigré Russian lady who tutored the family in French.5 Her adjustment to a new school environment went remarkably well. Her brother Yōichi, on the other hand, who was first placed in a local public school, had to switch temporarily to a small private school in Lausanne where English was used because of the strain of coping with a new language in a strict school.6 Mieko’s smoother adaptation in Geneva was to a large extent due to the fact that, unlike her brother, she was still at the magical age when children can absorb a foreign language as if it were their mother tongue. At the same time, she was old enough to retain Japanese despite her intensive exposure to French. Even so, Mieko and her sisters soon started answering in French though their parents continued to speak


A Woman with Demons

to them in Japanese.7 It seems that French permanently replaced Japanese as Mieko’s first language despite the relative brevity of her stay in the French-speaking Swiss environment; but she remained throughout her life as fluent in Japanese as an average native speaker. In her autobiography, Henreki (Wanderings) completed towards the end of her life, Mieko wrote: “There is no denying that my brief stay in Switzerland has left an indelible mark upon me; I have become ‘un-Japanese.’ Even today it is in French that I think, read, and write with the greatest ease, and I am still inclined towards European culture.”8 There was only one class at the elementary school attached to the Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau, if we disregard the kindergarten that Mieko’s sisters attended, one after the other. So, children from Grade One through Grade Six studied in the same classroom. Mieko was the only foreigner in her class.9 Each student received instruction from the teacher individually, though singing and playing in the nearby park were collective activities. This largely individualized method of instruction worked well with Mieko, who initially did not know any French. The liberal atmosphere of the school also suited her. It took her only about six months to overcome the language barrier. In “My Schools in Geneva” she wrote: “In the meantime roughly half a year passed. As I came to understand French, I came to enjoy school and I also became fond of my school friends. As I studied the same things and played the same games with Swiss children, the difference of nationality ceased to matter at all between me and my friends.”10

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


After two years at this school Mieko entered École Internationale de Genève (International School of Geneva), which was situated in the same building as the elementary school on the third floor. “This time as I could speak French just as ordinary people, I became friends with my classmates at once,”11 reminisced the fourteen-year-old Mieko. This school catered to children whose parents worked for international organizations, such as the League of Nations, whose headquarters were situated in Geneva, and had far more pupils than the elementary school. The children received instruction either in French or English. Mieko entered a French class in which Swiss and French children were the most numerous, but there were also children from the United States, Britain, Germany, Poland, Russia, and elsewhere.12 In her autobiography Mieko writes about Mr Dupuy, who was in charge of her class, with a deep sense of gratitude. She records that he was a graduate of the École Normale Supérieur in France and taught geography there for many years. After his retirement he became a teacher at the École Internationale. According to Mieko, in addition to geography, he taught French grammar, composition, and literature. As there were no independent subjects called “French grammar,” “Composition,” and so on, these must have been taught within a course titled “Culture générale,” which was held by Mr Dupuy five hours each week.13 Mieko writes that Mr Dupuy “detested cramming students.”14 She mentions the students’ outdoor observation of the formation of a delta after a rain as an illustra-

 A Woman with Demons

tion of his teaching method. Mr Dupuy tried to give his students opportunities to observe natural phenomena with their own eyes instead of passively accepting what was written in the textbook. Mr Dupuy became one of those who early on perceived a great natural gift hidden in Mieko and who came to place great hope in her future. When Mieko was about to return to Japan, he gave her a butterfly as a parting gift and explained in the accompanying letter of  November  how he saw in the butterfly a symbol of what he wished her to be. Just as the two sides of a butterfly wing are different in colour and pattern, Mr Dupuy thought that Mieko had two different sides to her personality. In his parting letter he expressed his wish that Mieko’s life would be happy enough to permit her to retain not only the serious, sagacious side of her personality but the youthful, cheerful side that greatly endeared her to her classmates in Geneva.15 She rediscovered this letter, which she was to use in her autobiography, on  April . On rereading the letter she was moved to tears. She copied the entire letter into her shuki of that date and wrote, “He was one of those who loved me and had a good hope for my future.” The whole École Internationale de Genève seems to have been based on a progressive educational philosophy. Inclusion of a subject called “Local Survey,” for example, which Mieko studied in the – academic year,16 shows that their curriculum was quite innovative. The teachers did not try to teach too much, and they seem to have tried to establish a good balance

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


between intellectual training and subjects aimed at the students’ social and artistic development. According to the timetable (for the – academic year) found in a notebook,17 Tuesday and Friday afternoons were wholly devoted to sports and Wednesday afternoons to manual training (“Travaux Manuels”). There seems to have been no school on Thursday afternoons, and Thursday mornings were devoted to drawing (“Dessin”). On Saturdays school ended at noon. The last period on Saturdays was the “Assemblée générale.” During this hour the students and teachers gathered in a large room and discussed various matters. The students, both boys and girls, but especially those in the upper grades to which Mieko’s brother belonged, spoke a lot during the assembly sessions.18 Mieko was a very good student at École Internationale, judging from comments in her school report (“Bulletin Trimestriel”) by six teachers who collectively taught nine subjects – principle language (French), second language (English), mathematics, general culture, local survey, geography, science, manual training, and drawing. Although one teacher mentions Mieko’s tendency to be distracted by other students, such a negative comment is exceptional and the prevailing view among her teachers was that she was a conscientious, hard-working student whose academic performance was very good, if not perfect. Two teachers refer to her timidity. This was probably one of her permanent personality traits, though as Mieko herself was aware, she could be very bold at times.19


A Woman with Demons

As for her teachers, Mieko wrote in her autobiography: Among the teachers who taught me at the International School of Geneva, there were people of various nationalities – a Swiss gentleman in the prime of manhood, a young Englishman, a middle aged American lady and so on. Nobody, however, taught us as much as Mr Dupuy both qualitatively and in terms of the number of hours. I am sorry that I was too young to be able to absorb his “wisdom.” Still, a vague feeling that I was in touch with something first-class has remained with me until this day. It must be a rare chance for a high school student to receive instructions from such a great man.20 Although we know, from her school report, the names of individual teachers who taught Mieko during the – academic year, she only wrote about Mr Dupuy in her autobiography. We have no other information about them with the exception of A.J. Goldberry, who taught Mieko English. The most prominent non-Japanese resident of Geneva in the eyes of the small Japanese community there in the period of Mieko’s stay must have been Basil Hall Chamberlain (–), emeritus professor of Japanese and philology at the Imperial University of Tokyo and probably the most

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


prominent Japanologist of his age. He chose Geneva as the place of his retirement. When Chamberlain died, A.J. Goldberry, who had worked closely with him during the last sixteen years of his life, published a moving reminiscence of Chamberlain in a Swiss journal, including a portrait of Chamberlain on the day before his death.21 This must have been the same A.J. Goldberry who commented on Mieko’s progress in English in her school report for the – academic year. Japan in the mid-s was a much poorer country than the Japan of today. The Japanese government, however, did not want its representatives to cut a shabby figure abroad. Thus, while Mieko’s father worked in Geneva, her family lived in a house that looked like a castle to her and led the life of a rich family with a maid, cook, and chauffeur. It was characteristic of Mieko that she felt uncomfortable in her new role as a member of a rich family. While in Geneva Mieko took piano lessons from a young female teacher. The lessons were given on the big grand piano in the gorgeous drawing-room of Mieko’s house. Mieko wrote, “Whenever I took a lesson from this slender, shy teacher, I felt something like an inexpressible sense of guilt, for this piano teacher really looked poor.”22 At the Sacred Heart Girls’ School, she had felt uncomfortable being a poor girl among the daughters of rich families. This time the relationship was the other way round. The discomfort Mieko felt was more intense than the shame she had felt as a poor girl among the rich.


A Woman with Demons

Mieko’s autobiography recounts another episode in a similar vein. At the elementary school in Geneva, the thirty minutes from ten o’clock in the morning was the time for pupils to go to the nearby park to play and to have the snack that they had brought from home. Mieko’s snack, prepared by a cook, was sometimes more elaborate than the snacks of other children. One day when Mieko was peeling the skin of a peach (a luxury item in Switzerland at that time), one of her classmates, a thin, pale boy, suddenly asked her if he could have the skin. When Mieko offered him the flesh of the peach, he insisted that he preferred the skin and ate it. Mieko concludes this episode in her autobiography with the words, “Later, I came to be convinced with a sense of guilt that what he really liked was the flesh rather than the skin.”23 It was roughly “in the second year” of her stay in Switzerland that she realized with an acute sense of guilt that she and her family were rich people in the eyes of many people around them.24 Mieko at the age of ten was perceptive enough to see that it was all because of the desire to uphold Japan’s honour that they were expected to live as a rich family or that her mother was constantly ordering gorgeous evening dresses that were then discarded in a huge trunk in the attic after being worn only once or twice. In fact, criticism of what she saw as an excessive preoccupation among the Japanese people in Geneva with upholding their country’s honour is a major theme in the chapter on her Swiss days in Mieko’s autobiography.

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


The central figure in the small Japanese community in Geneva was Nitobe Inazō, author of the internationally acclaimed Bushido: The Soul of Japan () and one of the under-secretaries general of the League of Nations since its establishment in . Nitobe was a person of great importance for Mieko’s family. He was not only her father’s mentor but he was also a grandfather figure for Mieko herself. Her father, according to Mieko, found “a spiritual father” in Nitobe (Works, : ). He was captivated from the moment he heard Nitobe lecturing in a church close to Number One Higher School, where Maeda Tamon was a first-year student. When Nitobe became the principal of Number One Higher School in , Maeda Tamon was already studying at Tokyo Imperial University, but he took every opportunity to attend Nitobe’s talks and lectures. He attached himself to Nitobe “like a parasite,”25 to use his own expression. Maeda was not alone among the students and graduates of Number One Higher School who were enchanted by Nitobe’s charming personality and who adopted him as a lifelong mentor. Many of Maeda’s friends had done the same. Most of them rose to occupy important positions in Japanese society. They were an informal group tied by friendship and common veneration for the same man. Nitobe, who had studied at Sapporo Agricultural College from  to , was a member of the so-called Sapporo Band, one of the earliest groups of Protestant converts in Japan. The Sapporo Band came into


A Woman with Demons

existence as a result of lay missionary work done by William S. Clark who served as the president of Sapporo Agricultural College in –, the first year of its existence. The class of  to which Nitobe belonged entered the college in , after Clark’s departure, but more than half of them became Christians thanks to the efforts of the upper-class students whom Clark had converted. The most influential Christian leader to emerge from among the members of the Sapporo Band was Uchimura Kanzō (–), Nitobe’s close friend who also entered the agricultural college in . After an eventful career as a teacher and a secular journalist, he worked as an independent evangelist to the end of his life through the monthly journal Seisho no kenkyū (Biblical Studies), which he had established in . Uchimura’s followers formed the distinct group of Japanese Christians called non-church Christians. As we have seen, Mieko’s maternal uncle, Kanazawa Tsuneo, was a non-church Christian evangelist. Because of Nitobe’s friendship with Uchimura, Nitobe seems to have referred the students of Number One Higher School who were interested in Christianity to Uchimura while he was its principal. Maeda Tamon had known Uchimura before he got acquainted with Nitobe.26 Maeda was influenced by Uchimura, though he developed a more intimate relationship with Nitobe. Thus, Maeda Tamon was a member of a small but significant group among the Japanese elite consisting of people who were influenced by both Uchimura and Nitobe, two unique Christian figures of modern Japan. Mieko, born in this milieu, came to feel a granddaughterly

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


affection towards Nitobe and in her adolescence she was a faithful adherent to the non-church Christianity associated with Uchimura’s name, though unlike her brother Yōichi she was apparently too young to have any significant personal contact with Uchimura himself before his death in . Maeda Yōichi, Mieko’s elder brother, once said, “Without Mr Nitobe I would never have existed.”27 Nitobe was the man who had arranged the marriage between Mieko’s father and mother. As we have seen, Mieko’s mother was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to a school in Tokyo founded by the Friends. Nitobe, who had become a Friend and had married an American woman from a well-known uaker family in Philadelphia, had some connection with the school. Nitobe, looking for a suitable spouse for Maeda Tamon, chose Kanazawa Fusako, who was still a student at the uaker school. For Fusako too, it seems, Nitobe had become a kind of father figure.28 Mieko’s mother was not at first well disposed to the marriage proposed by Nitobe. Her aspiration was to remain single and devote her life to some social or philanthropic work. It took Nitobe three days to persuade her to agree to the marriage with Maeda Tamon. Nitobe argued that “even if a woman singlehandedly devotes her life to a social work, what she can achieve is quite limited. She will be able to contribute more to society by marrying an able man and having several children who will make valuable contributions to society.”29 Having arranged the marriage between Mieko’s father and mother, Nitobe visited their home from time to time. These visits, together with

 A Woman with Demons

the summers spent in the “peaceful, cheerful” home of her mother’s eldest brother (the elder brother of Kanazawa Tsuneo) who was “like the sun that shone on my childhood,”30 remained in Mieko’s memory as blessed moments in her otherwise somewhat gloomy life before the family’s departure for Switzerland. Mieko writes about Nitobe’s visits in her “Autobiographical Fragments”: “What was strange even to my child’s mind was that his mere presence in our house made the atmosphere harmonious and bright ... He was just there. From time to time, smiling he would pick up one of us children to place her (or him) on his knees and with a mischievous expression would pinch both of her (or his) cheeks as was his habit. My parents would watch the scene smiling with none of their usual restless air.”31 Considering Nitobe’s importance to Maeda Tamon and his family, his presence in Geneva during the entire period of their stay there must have been a matter of considerable importance to them. However, Nitobe’s direct or indirect influence on the family during this period was probably not an entirely happy one. Nitobe had an excellent command of English. He had acquired it as a member of the special transitional generation of Japanese students educated at a time when Japanese higher education based on the Western model had just come into existence and when foreign teachers still played a dominant role, not only in higher education but also in preparatory secondary education leading to it. His excellent English, coupled with his overall ability and personality, made him one

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of the few Japanese who could shine in the international arena. However, this “internationalist” was at the same time an intense nationalist who was ever anxious to uphold the honour of Japan. To Mieko’s mother, who called on him at his suburban residence shortly after her arrival in Geneva, Nitobe said in a rather severe tone: “Here, unlike in Japan, you have to do more than just to bring up your children. You have an important role to play as the wife of a representative of the Japanese government. It is not an easy job just to acquit yourself well in your social contacts with representatives of other countries. Whatever you say and whatever you do, it will be taken as a reflection of the level of Japanese civilization. I would like you to be extra careful and live here in such a way as to never bring shame to Japan.”32 After this, not to bring shame to Japan became almost an obsession for Mieko’s mother, as it was for other Japanese people in Geneva. Once, at a ski resort, Mieko accidentally won a fun ski race whose aim was to chase and catch a ski instructor. For the Japanese adults vacationing at the resort her victory was a great occasion to celebrate because of “the honour of Japan.”33 Always to be watchful not to bring shame upon Japan and to try to impress the superiority of Japanese civilization on non-Japanese people through conscious efforts despite her own ignorance of the subject was oppressive to the little Mieko in Geneva. Mieko writes of her own reaction in her autobiography: “Why do we have to try always not to bring shame to Japan? Especially, we are children. We do not attend interna-


A Woman with Demons

tional conferences. Even though we attend a school with foreign children, both we and they are ‘mere children.’ Such was a train of thought which occurred to me frequently.”34 The effects of a sojourn in a Western country on individual Japanese of the modern period were diverse. Uchimura Kanzō, for example, arrived in the United States in  with an idealized image of America as a kind of holy land based on what he had heard from American missionaries. His four years in the United States from  to  shattered this image by exposing him to widespread racism, money worship, and other unsavoury aspects of American life, and he returned to Japan with a renewed sense of the value of his own country.35 Nitobe was not as disillusioned with the West as Uchimura was, but his desire not to bring shame to his fatherland made him uphold the values of Japanese tradition, very likely to a degree exceeding his honest conviction, in writings intended for the Western audience, despite his relative ignorance as a member of the generation educated at a time when the Japanese had a very low esteem for their own culture and tradition.36 Through her Swiss experiences Mieko became more genuinely cosmopolitan than these people. To her, differences of race and nationality came to matter relatively little. By the time she left Switzerland she seems to have gained a conviction of the essential homogeneity of mankind. She writes in her autobiography: “In my mind things like ‘Japan’s shame’ had ceased to matter at all. I had awakened to the priceless value of inter-

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


course with people as they were, transcending race and nationality. That was what made me shed a flood of tears when parting from my friends in Switzerland.”37 The cosmopolitan outlook acquired through her Swiss experience remained with her to the end of her life. In her autobiography, which was completed in the year of her death, she wrote: “After my Swiss days I hardly felt that persons belonging to different races are ‘aliens,’ no matter where I went. Instead, I mixed with foreigners as people who are human beings just like myself and freely expressed my thoughts to them ... I do not know whether it is a good thing or not, but it is certain that I cannot write a treatise on Japanese national character. For I am apt to see similarities between races.”38 Before her departure for Switzerland, Mieko’s unique individuality was still latent and not yet visible to other people. During her Swiss days it started to surface, and some perceptive people felt that they were in the presence of a very promising unique girl when they met Mieko. Mr Dupuy, whose eyes filled with tears when Mieko took leave of him on the day of her departure from Geneva, must have been one of them.39 Various traits that later seemed to characterize Mieko made their first appearance in Switzerland. During a two-month stay at a summer resort, for example, she cycled down a winding road towards evening to a place that offered a good view over Lake Leman and the mountains beyond. There she watched the beautiful scenery as if in a trance until she came to herself

 A Woman with Demons

from the effect of the evening chill and the sound of cowbells. She did this every day except when the weather was bad, and it could well have been a harbinger of her mystical tendencies after the age of twenty.40 Her lifelong passion for writing also manifested itself for the first time during her Swiss days. Among her papers are two pieces of writing dating from that time. One is a composition in French titled “Legende japonaise” of roughly four hundred words, apparently written for Mr Dupuy’s class. It is not without some interest for us as it gives us a good idea of the level of Mieko’s French and of the care the instructor took in correcting and commenting on her composition. However, the second piece of writing is of greater interest to us as it was written of her own accord. This was a short diary kept by her in French from  September  to  September  during her family trip to Paris. It begins with the following undated entry very likely written on  September: Hier, nous sommes arrivés à Paris  heures du soir, et nous avons pris un taxi pour aller à l’hôtel des Champs-Elysées où nous logerons. En route, J’ai vu beaucoup d’illuminations. Sekiko a été enchanté de cela. J’ai encore vu le batiment du musée de Louvre etc. Papa m’a dit que, partant de la gare de Lyon pour aller a l’hotel, nous avons traversé le / de Paris. J’ai regardé de tous mes yeux ce que j’ai pu voir. Comme j’ai été très fatiguée, je m’endormis tout de suite.41

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


After this follow dated entries describing what she did and what she saw each day, showing her lively reactions to Paris, which she was visiting for the first time. Like her passion for writing, Mieko’s profoundly emotional way of reacting to people first manifested itself during her Swiss days, as suggested by the following quotation from her diary of  April : “I am simply amazed by the stark contrast between the strange intensity of my emotional reaction and attachment ... and the superficiality and lightness of the emotional reaction of other people.”42 In Toba Mitsuko Notebook in which Mieko wrote down themes or topics for future writing, we find a plan for an autobiographical novel about her girlhood. Four key phrases were used to characterize that period of her life, and one of them was “vehement affection” (hageshii aijō) – in the plan, a sentiment directed at “Mr Kurosaki and the sailor.” The Japanese words “Hageshii aijō” can also be translated as “passionate love” or “vehement love” or “violent love.” However, as we shall see shortly, both Mr Kurosaki and the sailor were people whom Mieko met before her return to Japan in December . In her shuki of  March , we find the plan of an autobiographical novel in five chapters,43 dealing with her earliest childhood to her American days. What is relevant to our discussion of “Vehement affection – Mr Kurosaki and the sailor” is that in this plan Mieko uses the word “first love” in reference to the period after her return

 A Woman with Demons

from Switzerland: “() First frost: first love–>death.” Obviously for her Nomura Kazuhiko was the person to whom her first love was directed. This seems to indicate that the “vehement affection” in question excluded not only any kind of sexual passion (Mieko was only twelve years old when she returned to Japan) but also an adolescent “crush.” However, “vehement affection” is a rather unexpected phrase to find here. The Mr Kurosaki mentioned under the heading of “Vehement affection” must have been Kurosaki Kōkichi whom Mieko met during her Swiss days. When Mieko’s family was in Geneva, Kurosaki was studying theology after he had resigned from a position in a big business firm. Later he became a non-Church Christian evangelist in Japan like Mieko’s uncle Kanazawa Tsuneo. Her “Autobiographical Fragments” contain the following reference to Kurosaki: “Mr Kurosaki lived alone in a lodging in Geneva. He had a very lonely air somehow. He often came to our house, took us children to Lake Leman and rowed a boat for us ... I did not know what theology was then. I just followed him around because Mr Kurosaki was so gentle and warm-hearted.”44 Does the “vehement affection” towards Kurosaki mean that Mieko, who was a girl with a strong maternal instinct (“Bosei” or “maternal instinct” is another of the four key phrases for Mieko’s “girlhood”), felt great pity and sympathy for Kurosaki who had lost his first wife45 and looked so lonely in Geneva?

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


The “sailor” who figured in her notebook under the heading “vehement affection” was very likely the quartermaster who appears in the following quotation from a school composition titled “Fune no ue no seikatsu” (“Life on a Ship”) written in April , which describes her return voyage to Japan: I liked sailors [better than waiters], for they looked manly and seemed to embody the spirit of the sea. Among them there was a person who was especially interesting. He was a quartermaster and was standing on the bridge most of the time. As the deck was virtually deserted while the adults were taking their evening meal, I and my friends who had finished our meal earlier would play on the deck to our heart’s content. The quartermaster always watched us standing in front of the stairs. Whenever we came near, he would blush and run up the stairs and disappear.46 Mieko must have been a person with an extraordinary emotional capacity even before she became a teenager, despite her shy façade. That is what the phrase “vehement affection” in the notebook seems to suggest. It is characteristic of Mieko’s emotional reaction to people that others often failed to realize their intensity because outwardly there was nothing very special about her relationship with them. Take the quartermaster: from

 A Woman with Demons

the quotation it appears that Mieko did not even have occasion to talk with him. Her capacity for “vehement affection” was to have a fateful effect on her life several years later in her relationship with Nomura Kazuhiko, the young man whose early death was the first and biggest catastrophe in her life. Mieko returned to Japan as a girl whose strong individuality had begun to manifest itself.

Birth of a Little Cosmopolitan


p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p


“La jeunesse riche et vivante”: Readjustment to Japan and Student Life at Seijō Higher Girls’ School and Tsuda College

Mieko and her family arrived back in Japan in December  when the Taishō emperor died and the reign of the Shōwa emperor began.1 The return voyage from Marseille to Yokohama, which lasted forty-five days, was delightful and Mieko enjoyed every minute of it as she described it in her school composition “Life on a Ship.” There were only four children on board of comparable age with whom she could be friends, but she befriended many adults. She participated energetically in such activities as deck golf, swimming, and fancy balls.2 Today millions of Japanese go abroad every year. According to Japan Statistical Yearbook , the number of Japanese who departed from Japan during  was

,, and the figure for  was ,,.3 This tremendous number, however, should not make us forget that until a generation ago, to go abroad was a rare experience that only a small number of Japanese had. For example, the number of Japanese who went abroad in , the year of the Tokyo Olympic Games, was just ,,4 less than one hundredth of the number in recent years, and even that figure represented a great increase over ,, the figure for .5 When Mieko returned to Japan in December , there were no schools that offered special programs for Japanese children who had returned from abroad as there are today. Mieko had to make a readjustment to the Japanese environment without the help of a formal program for returning children. As for linguistic adjustment, the magnitude of the problem was relatively minor in her case. When she arrived in Switzerland at the age of nine, she was already old enough to be able to retain most of her Japanese despite her subsequent intensive exposure to French. Accordingly, there was not as much Japanese to learn anew as there was for her younger siblings, who had forgotten more Japanese than she had. Nevertheless, when she returned to Japan she was aware that she could not express herself fluently in Japanese, although she had little difficulty in understanding it.6 The school that Mieko’s parents chose for her was Jiyū Gakuen, a liberal, innovative school founded by Hani Motoko (–), a Christian female educator who aimed at reforming Japanese family life through

“La jeunesse riche et vivante” 

her journal Fujin no tomo (Women’s Friend) as well as through the school. Though it was excellent in many ways, however, the school did not suit Mieko, and after three months or so Mieko refused to attend any more.7 There were two problems in Mieko’s view. One was that while she yearned to make up for her deficiency in Japanese and learn more Japanese and Japanese literature, the school gave her no opportunity to do so. The other problem was that since the school did not meet the requirements set by the Ministry of Education, its graduates would not be qualified to proceed to a higher-level educational institution in Japan. This was a shocking realization to Mieko since she was beginning to feel an acute intellectual curiosity around that time.8 It was fortunate for Mieko that Seijō Gakuen (Seijō School), which her brother Yōichi attended, created a girls’ section and started admitting pupils from April . After a gap of several months in her schooling, Mieko entered Seijō Kōtō Jogakkō (Seijō Higher Girls’ School) in September .9 She studied there until March , that is, from the age of thirteen to eighteen. Seijō Gakuen, which was founded by the prominent educator, Sawayanagi Masatarō as an experimental school to promote educational progress, was at that time headed by Obara Kuniyoshi (–), another prominent educator of modern Japan. At Seijō Higher Girls’ School, Mieko could receive exactly the kind of education she desired. Many of the teachers, she believed, had a thorough knowledge of their subjects – not inferior to that of the ordinary university profes-


A Woman with Demons

sor of postwar Japan.10 Since the classes were run basically on the Dalton Plan devised by Helen Parkhurst (–), Mieko, like her schoolmates, could work at her own pace, and this suited her need to improve her Japanese. Her education at Seijō Girls’ School gave her the valuable habit of studying on her own initiative and pursuing her own interests. Thanks to an excellent teacher of Japanese, Japanese and Japanese composition eventually became subjects she was passionately fond of and she even thought of proceeding to a school that would permit her to specialize in Japanese.11 She read some famous masterpieces of Japanese classical literature at the school, such as Oku no hosomichi by Matsuo Bashō (–), and Mieko says in her autobiography, “I was filled with the joy of rediscovering my own country.”12 The sixteen school compositions written by Mieko between  and  and printed in the appendix volume of her collected works are on the whole very well written and seem to corroborate her statement that she became passionately fond of composition. They also indicate Mieko’s smooth reintegration into Japanese life and schooling after she was admitted to Seijō Higher Girls’ School. A composition titled “Ensoku” (“A School Excursion”)13 gives the impression that Mieko was fully confident and at ease in her interactions with her classmates. There is no sign of alienation from Japanese society due to her Swiss years. In a composition titled “Zushi,” written in the second term in , less than a year after her return from Switzerland, Mieko writes about the previous summer,

“La jeunesse riche et vivante” 

which she spent in the seaside resort of Zushi near Kamakura. In it we find the following passage: “After seeing Kenchōji and Enkakuji [Zen temples in Kamakura], I have come to dislike Western style buildings. I have also felt somehow that, unlike the lake in Geneva, the sea has depth. I wonder why everyone who came to Geneva from Japan told me, ‘Japan is a dirty unpleasant place. You will be shocked when you return to Japan,’ when Japan has such delightful places. Wouldn’t it be better for you to talk about the good points of Japan abroad?”14 Evidently Mieko was not sorry to be in Japan. Obara Kuniyoshi, the principal of Seijō Higher Girls’ School, was a champion of what he called “Zenjin kyōiku,” literally “whole-person education,” which aims at developing the potential of a student in every respect – intellectual, moral, physical, artistic, and so on. Mieko’s mother was a supporter of Obara’s idea of “whole-person education” and very generously tried to accommodate Mieko’s extracurricular interests in sports, music, painting, languages, and so on.15 In sports for example, Mieko was permitted to pursue her interest in archery, horse riding, field hockey, and even in baseball and rugby,16 in addition to skiing and mountaineering, which had a special importance for her.17 A girl who played rugby must have been rare not only in Japan but in the entire world at that time. One of the things she did outside school was to read works of juvenile literature published in Switzerland. It continued to be easier for her to read French than to read Japanese for a long time after her return to Japan

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– apparently until the very end of her life. In this respect, she was completely different from her younger siblings who in the process of relearning Japanese in Japan came to forget French almost completely, though they had once spoken it freely in Switzerland.18 Mieko then started reading much more serious books in French than works of juvenile literature. The immediate incentive for this came from a comment made by Nagayo Yoshirō (–), a well-known writer of the time, on a piece of her creative writing. Mieko had acquired the habit of writing by the time she returned to Japan, and she continued to write in Japan. One of her pieces, to which she had devoted a whole summer, was published in the magazine of the Seijō Girls’ School. When Mieko’s mother showed it to Nagayo, his comment was, “This work shows evidence of a talent for writing. However, probably because of family influences, it contains too many undigested Christian ideas. You cannot produce a real work unless you think more for yourself.”19 The piece was very likely a work of fiction in eight chapters titled “Line,” dated  September . Its eponymous heroine is a French girl who becomes an orphan after the disappearance of her father during a journey of exploration and the death of her mother due to overwork two years later. Then she sets out on a journey in search of her rich great-aunt whom she has never met. By chance, she comes to her house, and without realizing that the mistress of the house is her greataunt, she becomes her servant. She wins her confidence and finally she and her great-aunt discover each other’s real identity and the story ends

“La jeunesse riche et vivante” 

happily. Just like “Hakuchō no ashi o shita ōjo” (“A Princess with Legs of a Swan”) and “Oningyō” (“A Doll”), the only works of fiction among Mieko’s school compositions published in the appendix volume of her collected works, its geographic setting and its characters are non-Japanese, remote from Mieko’s real life at the time of its creation. Nagayo’s comment does not seem to be unfair. It was something of a shock to Mieko, however, and she was discouraged from writing for a while.20 As Mieko could not yet see how she could think for herself, she wanted to find out what other people had thought before her. She found a big book, a history of Western philosophy written in French, on the bookshelves of her brother Yōichi. From time to time, beginning with that volume, she read books from her brother’s bookshelves that seemed to help her to think for herself. Yōichi was annoyed that she took his books without his permission and that she left many pencil marks on them. He was glad, however, that she had started reading more serious books in French. He encouraged her to continue to read such books, suggesting various titles, among them the works of Pascal and Greek and Latin classics in French translation. It was partly thanks to Yōichi’s guidance that a whole new world of books and an increased joy of reading opened to her. Mieko looked up to him as her intellectual guide, and their relationship quickly became far more intimate than it had been before.21 It was apparently during her time at Seijō Higher Girls’ School that Mieko became for the first time keenly aware that she was not like most


A Woman with Demons

girls, as the following quotation from her diary entry of  June  suggests. “‘Why do other people find living so easy?’ – this melancholy feeling of envy has crossed my mind often since around the age of sixteen. It was certainly very early that I became aware of myself as a person very different from others.”22 While a feeling of being different from other people is characteristic of adolescence, I do not think that we can dismiss Mieko’s claim of adolescent uniqueness out of hand: in some respects she was indeed different from virtually every Japanese girl around her. It would have been impossible, for example, to find another sixteen-year-old Japanese girl who was reading a thick history of Western philosophy in French in the Japan of . It was apparently around that age that a kind of bifurcation occurred in Mieko in response to the problems she faced. She was sociable and energetic and enthusiastically participated in sports and other activities that interested her. However, there was another, more pensive Mieko who thought about various problems alone, away from others. Her autobiography suggests a few reasons for the emergence of Mieko’s introspective side during this time. One was that her parents’ disharmonious relationship continued to worry her. Another was that she was beginning to think about the relationship between language and reality. Through her Swiss experience, French had become Mieko’s second mother tongue. One day a teacher who corrected Mieko’s English compositions pointed out that they contained expressions that the teacher found incomprehensible. Mieko realized that they were literal translations of idiom-

“La jeunesse riche et vivante” 

atic expressions in French. In other words, she seemed to be writing in English while thinking in French. As a person fluent in two languages, she was in a better position than most teenagers to have some insight into the relationship between language and reality. She early ceased to take the solid connection between language and reality for granted. “While tackling the three languages, I came to be bothered with ‘the sorcery of language,’”23 says Mieko. What bothered her, apparently, was the notion that one accepts words without examining whether they really stand for something real and the possibility of being manipulated through words as if through magic. “My distrust of clichés which started around this time has stayed with me throughout my life,”24 Mieko says. It seems that she had started grappling with intellectual or philosophical issues of her own accord for the first time. Another thing that made Mieko pensive was her sense of responsibility as the eldest daughter in the family. After her return from Switzerland, she had to look after her younger siblings as her mother was often out. In the summer of  Mieko was obliged to be in charge of the whole household, in a way, because both her parents went to the United States and were absent from Japan.25 Mieko’s planned work titled “Ane” (“The Elder Sister”) has the following short outline in Toba Mitsuko Notebook: “Both parents are away one summer, and she looks after younger siblings. Tragi-comique.” Since her two younger sisters and younger brother also

 A Woman with Demons

attended the same Seijō school, she would hold the hand of a sister with one hand and the hand of the brother with the other hand when she went to school.26 In order to find out how best she could discharge her responsibility towards her younger siblings, she even studied psychology and pedagogy.27 However, she was still too young and inexperienced to play the role of a substitute mother for them with competence.28 This was another problem that made her think. Another factor that likely aggravated her inner perplexities from around the age of sixteen was the influence of the non-church Christian circle with which she was associated. The following passage taken from an essay titled “Chinmoku no imi” (“Significance of Silence”) suggests confusion about her values caused by her association with that circle: From the time I returned to Japan from Switzerland to my early adolescence, I was messed up in the world of a very loquacious religion ... In the world of “the loquacious religion,” I was made to memorize a very large number of passages from “the holy scriptures.” I was also indoctrinated with many dogmas and listened to explanations about how different denominations came into existence and about controversies among them. It was a veritable inundation of words, but what I got out of all these in the end was rather a kind of scepticism.29

“La jeunesse riche et vivante” 

It was also during her student days at Seijō Higher Girls’ School that a new, more intimate relationship started to evolve between Mieko and her father. Among Maeda Tamon’s five children, it seems that Mieko was the closest to him.30 Their closeness started with a letter he wrote to Mieko when she was fifteen or sixteen years of age.31 Before that, always absorbed in his work, her father had been a distant figure to Mieko and her siblings. What was remarkable about the letter was that her father addressed Mieko “not as a child but as a friend.” Treated with such respect by her father, Mieko for the first time became aware of herself as an autonomous person.32 From around this time Tamon increasingly relied on her as his assistant and confidante. After graduating from Seijō Higher Girls’ School in March , Mieko entered Tsuda Eigaku Juku (Tsuda College of English Studies),33 forerunner of the Tsuda Juku Daigaku (Tsuda Juku University) of today. The college was founded by Tsuda Umeko (–), one of the first Japanese women to study in the United States. It was one of the few institutions available to Japanese women of the pre-World War II period who wanted to pursue studies beyond the higher girls’ school level. The college was known for its good English training, and apparently Mieko chose this college following Yōichi’s advice that a good knowledge of English “would be useful for something.”34 Unlike Seijō Higher Girls’ School, however, Tsuda College did not really satisfy Mieko academically. The centre of her academic activities became the advanced class at Athénée Français, a

 A Woman with Demons

school outside the regular Japanese educational system run by a French educator, which she attended after classes at the college. She studied there with students from the French Department of the University of Tokyo and other “excellent students,”35 including her brother Yōichi, and received far more rigorous intellectual training than at Tsuda College.36 As for what she gained from the college, Mieko wrote in her autobiography that it was “a period in which I had secret worries; Nakanishi Kukuko, the only intimate friend I had to whom I could confide my problems was the greatest gift of Tsuda College to me.”37 As we shall see in the next chapter, by the time Mieko entered Tsuda College, she had fallen in love with a young man called Nomura Kazuhiko, and it is likely that her “secret worries” were related to her relationship with him. In her autobiography, Mieko expressed her “infinite gratitude” to “that gentle and wonderfully intelligent friend,” Nakanishi Kukuko, who died young.38 Her words suggest how rare it had become for her to find a real friend. The richness and complexity of her inner world must have made Mieko very difficult for her classmates at Tsuda College to understand. Even Yōichi, who had once been Mieko’s intellectual guide, eventually came to feel that she was beyond his comprehension. “I respect you as a gifted person,” he told her. “At the same time, I think that you are a kind of lunatic.”39 The following quotation from Mieko’s diary of  October  reflects the sense of inner isolation that must have accompanied her more or less throughout her entire life, beginning with her time at Tsuda

“La jeunesse riche et vivante” 

College: “I cannot help feeling that I have been engaging in a continuous monologue without any companions except books. I have seldom been blessed with rich friendship as men have, because I am a woman and have dealings exclusively with women ... How would I have survived until today without books to supplement the poverty of ideas, experiences, and energy on the part of my female friends?”40 Under the educational system of pre-World War II Japan, coeducation was with few exceptions restricted to elementary school. Social segregation of the sexes was also much more pronounced than today; hence Mieko’s “dealings exclusively with women.” In Mieko’s case her love of skiing, mountaineering, and music brought her into some contact with boys. However, Japanese society at that time did not provide opportunities for young men and women to get to know each other through such activities and become genuine friends. Nonetheless, Mieko had potent personal charm, as we can see from the following excerpt from her diary of  September : “Why do I become an object of passionate, exclusive, and absolute love in this way both on the part of men and women, instead of an object of mere affection or good will? Why am I so often treated, not as an ordinary human being but as if I were a goddess?”41 Already as a senior student at Seijō Higher Girls’ School, Mieko had started to fascinate boys, including Nomura Kazuhiko.


A Woman with Demons


Love with Nomura Kazuhiko and the Lasting Impact of His Death

Nomura Kazuhiko’s death on  January  when Mieko was twenty was one of the most decisive events of her life. More than a quarter century later, Mieko was aware of the lasting impact of his death. In her shuki of  January , she wrote: “Why have I become the person that I am? Wasn’t my loss of K [Kazuhiko] after all the cause of everything, rather than my innate character?” After nearly twenty-six years, the devastation caused by Kazuhiko’s death appeared almost unbelievable to Mieko herself. Although at some point in their relationship Mieko came to regard him as her future husband, there is no evidence that Mieko and Kazuhiko were ever formally betrothed. But their bond was so exceptional that

p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p

people who knew them were reminded of the relationship between Dante and Beatrice. What struck Mieko most in retrospect was the disproportion between the immense impact of Kazuhiko’s death and the paucity of their actual contact. After all, as she records in her shuki of  January , “We never met each other after we had become aware of our love towards each other.” Nomura Kazuhiko was born on  January  as the eldest son of Nomura Kodō (the pen name of Nomura Osakazu) and Nomura Hana. Nomura Kodō (–) worked as a journalist for many years for the Hōchi Newspaper Company in Japan, but he is popularly remembered for a series of detective stories set in the Tokugawa period featuring a hero called Zenigata Heiji. Writing under the pen name of Araebisu, he was also a music critic who helped to popularize Western classical music in Japan. Hana taught at a girls’ secondary school for a while but spent most of her life as a housewife. The fact that she was a remarkable person in her own right can be seen from her biography, published in .1 Nomura Kodō and his wife Hana were not only the parents of the young man Mieko loved but were themselves people whom Mieko came to love and respect very deeply. One of their daughters, Matsuda Keiko (née Nomura, –), whom Mieko befriended around the year of Kazuhiko’s death, was probably Mieko’s best friend. Matsuda Keiko was a talented writer of juvenile literature whose promising career was cut short by her premature death at the age of twenty-three. Her works are still highly esteemed,

 A Woman with Demons

as the recent publication of her complete works in seven volumes (one of which is an appendix volume containing relevant materials on her life and work) attests.2 Mieko must first have noticed Nomura Kazuhiko as a friend of her brother Yōichi. Both Kazuhiko and Yōichi studied at Seijō Higher School before entering the Faculty of Letters at the Imperial University of Tokyo. Although Kazuhiko was one year behind Yōichi at school, they became intimate friends with a number of shared interests that facilitated their friendship. One was a love of music. As Mieko writes in her autobiography, her mother encouraged the extracurricular activities of her children, such as sports, mountaineering, painting, and music. “She [Mieko’s mother] was especially keen on music, and arranged lessons by a piano teacher at our house for my elder brother, myself and my sisters. Later my elder brother’s friends would gather at our house, each with a different instrument, forming an ensemble for chamber music.”3 Nomura Kazuhiko, who as the son of a music critic was encouraged to cultivate his love of music, had an excellent musical sense.4 He was one of the members of the ensemble and played cello. Yōichi played flute.5 Another friend of Yōichi’s who belonged to the ensemble was Matsuda Tomoo, who later married Kazuhiko’s sister Keiko. Besides their Christian faith, which was reflected in their common membership in the Kanazawa Seisho Kenkyūkai (the Kanazawa Bible Study Group) presided over by Kanazawa Tsuneo, Mieko’s uncle, and their love of music, the families of the three

Nomura Kazuhiko


friends all owned cottages near to one another in Karuizawa, a summer resort in Nagano prefecture. Mieko was thus aware of Nomura Kazuhiko as one of her brother’s best friends. However, they rarely saw each other. Apart from the Japanese custom of that time, which placed considerable restrictions on social contacts between boys and girls, the fact that Kazuhiko contracted tuberculosis quite early must have further impeded their free intercourse. In his diary6 Kazuhiko left a detailed account of his relationship with Mieko. Relying on this source, we shall look at their relationship in some detail in order to understand it. As we have seen, Mieko’s brother and his friends formed an ensemble for chamber music, which met at her house. This must have begun after Yōichi entered the preparatory section ( jinjōka) of Seijō Higher School in September  – very likely after the rest of his family returned from Switzerland in December .7 Kazuhiko became ill with tuberculosis in .8 If there was a time when Kazuhiko came to Mieko’s house regularly to play music, it could only have been during a brief period of a year or so around . Kazuhiko was fourteen in  and Mieko thirteen. According to his diary, Kazuhiko became self-consciously aware of Mieko as an attractive girl for the first time on  November  when he visited the house of the Maeda family on the occasion of Yōichi’s birthday. “For a few days after that I was terribly tormented by a sense of longing for her. However, in the end I decided to forget her because my case appeared

 A Woman with Demons

to be hopeless and because there were other boys who were in love with her,” he wrote. Kazuhiko’s illness and the long absence from school that it entailed probably put Mieko out of Kazuhiko’s mind for a while. In the spring of  Kazuhiko was well enough to attend school regularly again. Kazuhiko was a member of the school orchestra and Mieko was a member of the school choir. Since Kazuhiko and Mieko both attended a school that was part of Seijō Gakuen, Kazuhiko saw Mieko from time to time at school when the choir and the orchestra practised together. It was apparently in reference to the autumn of  that Kazuhiko wrote in retrospect that he had “unwittingly ... made Mieko the objective of my life.” What attracts our attention is that immediately after this comment, Kazuhiko described Mieko as “a person with whom I had not even spoken.” In midNovember  Yōichi confided to Kazuhiko about his love for Yūko, his future wife. Very shortly after, as he recalled in his diary on  September , Kazuhiko told Yōichi that he loved someone, without revealing that the person was none other than Yōichi’s sister Mieko. At that stage his love for Mieko was not based on any meaningful contact. The same can be said about Mieko’s “love” for Kazuhiko, who, according to Yōichi as reported in Kazuhiko’s diary, was probably already in love with Kazuhiko as of the summer of . Then Kazuhiko went to Yōichi’s house on  January . As he wrote in his diary, it turned out to be “completely unexpectedly a happy day” for him. It was one of the few days, almost the only day perhaps, in which

Nomura Kazuhiko


there was some kind of normal interaction between Kazuhiko and Mieko, during the whole course of their relationship from the time when he had become aware of Mieko. It was Saturday. Since Kazuhiko was to attend the funeral of one of the teachers of the Seijō primary school on the following day, he was to stay overnight at Yōichi’s house. When Kazuhiko arrived, Mieko was not at home. Then Kazuhiko went out with Yōichi to a photographer’s studio. When they returned, Mieko greeted Kazuhiko in the doorway saying, “Hello! Welcome to our house!” Her words filled Kazuhiko with a strange feeling that he could not well define. “At any rate, I was very happy,” he wrote in his diary. Kazuhiko later returned to the impact of Mieko’s greeting that day in his diary entry of  May : “That greeting caused within me a strange, ineffable feeling. I felt as if a supremely transparent, beautiful world in which I had had no share suddenly appeared right in front of me. It was a living person who had created that world. That living person’s existence exerted a strange power over me as if she were a divine miracle.” From this quotation, we can see that since the actual contacts between Kazuhiko and Mieko were so few, Kazuhiko retained almost every gesture and word of Mieko’s in his memory and ruminated on them for a long time. On  January , Kazuhiko had supper with Mieko and Yōichi, saw a film that Matsuda Tomoo had brought, and played various games after supper. Kazuhiko had a few other opportunities to see Mieko, especially in May . However, because neither Kazuhiko nor Mieko knew how to

 A Woman with Demons

express their love for each other openly and naturally on the rare occasions when they met, both of them believed that their love was unrequited. According to his diary it was on  July , when Kazuhiko was eighteen and Mieko seventeen, that they realized, indirectly through Yōichi, that their love was mutual. Yōichi explained to Kazuhiko the various reasons why he believed that Mieko loved him. By talking with Yōichi on that day Kazuhiko realized, for example, that the reason why Mieko had avoided him on  June  when Kazuhiko visited Yōichi’s house was not because she disliked him but because the presence of Kazuhiko whom she loved agitated her too much. From that day both Mieko and Kazuhiko were convinced that they loved each other. However, they never directly avowed their love for each other either in person or through letters as far as we know. Kazuhiko’s diary seems to corroborate Mieko’s statement that, “we never met each other after we had become aware of our love towards each other.” So it appears that even though they realized that they loved each other in July , they never saw each other again until Kazuhiko’s death over two years later on  January . This probably only intensified their feelings. Why didn’t they see each other? My conjecture is that a few people who were close to them and who had a certain authority over them disapproved of their love. The first person who comes to mind in this connection is Mieko’s mother. From Kazuhiko’s diary, we learn that when Mieko’s mother

Nomura Kazuhiko


knew that Kazuhiko loved Mieko she asked him not to take “any direct action” and she discouraged Mieko from returning his love. Mieko’s mother explained to Mieko why she regarded Kazuhiko as an “undesirable” boyfriend and eventual marriage partner, and this was reported by Yōichi to Kazuhiko. According to Kazuhiko’s diary, she had concerns about his fragile health and his unreliability as a person due to his psychological or emotional instability. Her concern with his health must have been more important. Kazuhiko was afflicted with tuberculosis and he had already lost a sister to tuberculosis. At that time, before the invention of effective drugs against the disease, tuberculosis was very much feared by people in Japan. Mieko’s mother was no exception. In , the year after Kazuhiko’s death, Mieko herself was diagnosed as having lung tuberculosis. Mieko writes about her mother’s reaction when she told her of the diagnosis: “‘Impossible! Tuberculosis does not run in our family.’ So saying my mother jumped away from me ... It must have been a sheer reflexive response on her part. However, I was not very surprised since her extreme dislike of tuberculosis was already well known to me.”9 Mieko may have become aware of “her extreme dislike of tuberculosis” in conjunction with her mother’s rejection of Kazuhiko as her potential future husband. She may have strongly discouraged Mieko from going to see Kazuhiko after he had become confined to his bed out of fear of infection. In this connection, the following quotation from Mieko’s shuki of


A Woman with Demons

 February , written just over ten years after Kazuhiko’s death, is noteworthy: I reread my diary of  and I was so affected by its pathetic nature that I could not help shedding tears. It really puzzles me why I did not become insane around that time. The combination of my mother’s character and my own is really tragic. If only my mother had been different, even Kazuhiko’s death would not have done such a terrible violence to my young mind. I would have been able to express my sorrow and suffering more naturally. I was obliged to wear a smiling face outwardly while inwardly I was crying madly. After Kazuhiko’s death, Mieko’s mother, whose character Mieko described with words such as “simple,” “extrovert,” and “positive” (shuki,  June ) and who was in these respects so different from Mieko, very likely had no clue as to Mieko’s real feelings and accordingly could express no real sympathy for her; and the lack of her mother’s sympathy prevented Mieko from giving free vent to her emotions and experiencing relief. Another person who very likely disapproved of Mieko’s relationship with Kazuhiko was her maternal uncle Kanazawa Tsuneo. In her shuki of  June  Mieko wrote: “Uncle Tsuneo, I hear, has been sorely per-

Nomura Kazuhiko


plexed by this affair of Tomoo and has expressed his regret that he had spoken too strongly against my affair in the past. He is sorry for me, I hear.” Matsuda Tomoo, who had married Kazuhiko’s sister Nomura Keiko (Matsuda Keiko), married her younger sister Nomura Toshiko in , two years after Keiko’s death. Apparently Toshiko’s parents were initially against Toshiko’s marriage to her widowed brother-in-law, Tomoo, who was ten years older than she was.10 They had lost three of their four children to tuberculosis and were probably unhappy to see the only remaining child depart from their house through marriage so soon after Keiko’s death. Since Tomoo was a member of the non-church Christian group led by Kanazawa Tsuneo, Kanazawa must have been consulted about the matter. “This affair of Tomoo” can only refer to the imminent marriage between Tomoo and Toshiko, which took place on  July .11 This context makes it virtually certain that “my affair in the past” refers to the love between Mieko and Kazuhiko. The quotation thus seems to suggest that Kanazawa, who was the religious teacher of both Mieko and Kazuhiko, expressed his disapproval of their love and advised them not to see each other. In her autobiography, Mieko mentions Fujii Takeshi, a more influential leader of non-church Christianity than her uncle, who maintained that premarital romantic love between a man and a woman was illegitimate, carnal, and this-worldly. Kanazawa’s disapproval of the love between Mieko and Kazuhiko may have been based on a similar view of premarital romantic love. Years later, on  September , Mieko

 A Woman with Demons

wrote, “How cruel human beings can become towards other human beings in the name of God!”12 Delving into “the hidden springboard for my psychology” in the Toba Mitsuko Notebook, she cites “my revolt against the psychological ignorance of my uncle and aunt[;] the death of Kaz [Kazuhiko]” bolstering the conjecture that Kanazawa Tsuneo discouraged Mieko’s relationship with Kazuhiko. The day Kazuhiko died,  January , was a turning-point in Mieko’s life. She had always been a person of strongly marked individuality, as we have seen, in some ways quite different from other girls. Her image of happiness, however, had not been so different from that of her peers, who dreamed of meeting their Prince Charmings, marrying them, and living happily ever afterwards – in other words, who felt that they would find happiness primarily as wives and mothers. Lamenting his death after a lapse of six years, Mieko wrote in her shuki on  January , “Why did I have to undergo his death? From the beginning I longed for nothing but living as a wife ... Why did he die? I wanted to live, pouring and pouring upon him my love which was welling in my heart and body.” Nearly twelve years after his death Mieko wrote, “The only thing which was truly desirable for me was ... [words deleted] However, that was lost more than ten years ago.” Judging from the context the deleted part must have said something like “to be Kazuhiko’s wife and to be the mother of lovely children.” The words “and to be the mother of lovely children” are still clearly legible despite her efforts to delete them.

Nomura Kazuhiko


The death of Kazuhiko shattered her dream of happiness completely and irrevocably. That his death radically changed her attitude towards life can be seen from such remarks as “My only dream about marriage has been destroyed. Now happiness is neither desirable nor possible for me”(shuki of  September ), and “My life after Kazuhiko’s death does not at all belong to me. It has nothing to do with my taste or happiness” (shuki of  January ). But what was the real nature of Mieko’s relationship with Kazuhiko, whose death in  had such a prolonged and devastating effect on her? We have seen that Mieko and Kazuhiko had little real contact with each other. Mieko’s shuki of  February  also contains an avowal that she and Kazuhiko “did not have social contacts to speak of” (betsu ni kōsaishita wake de nai). Under the circumstances, one might speculate that Mieko’s love was directed not towards Kazuhiko as he really was but towards a figment of her imagination, her own projected image. When she was young Mieko was an object of love or adoration for many people, both men and women. However, she did not feel that their love embraced her as she really was. In her shuki of  August , she enumerated the names of men and women who felt this way about her, commenting, “I see very clearly what sort of image I make people have of me.” In her view, “all overestimated me and created a special image of me. What confusion and waste that has led to!” Of the twelve men on Mieko’s list, the first was Kazuhiko. It appears that Mieko believed that Kazuhiko also loved the


A Woman with Demons

special image he had created of her rather than her real self. Can we say the same about Mieko’s love for Kazuhiko? Didn’t she also love the special image of Kazuhiko she herself had created, rather than Kazuhiko himself? I think that we are at least partially justified in regarding the Kazuhiko Mieko loved as an idealized image of her own making. Thus, shortly after she had started dating Kamiya Noburō, her future husband, as a potential marriage partner, she wrote in her shuki of  January , “I believe that for the first time in my life I have come to know what real love is.” This sounds like a tacit admission that her love towards Kazuhiko was not altogether real. However, if Mieko’s love for Kazuhiko, or the Kazuhiko she loved, was largely a dream without a solid connection to reality, we cannot overlook the tremendous psychological importance of this dream for Mieko. She clung to it long after Kazuhiko’s death. When his death made it impossible for her to dream of living as his wife and the mother of his children, she devised a new dream of remaining single to the end of her life, keeping faith with Kazuhiko’s memory, and she did not completely relinquish this new dream until shortly before her actual marriage. “Bien que vierge, je suis veuve d’un rêve et veux rester inassouvie” (“Though a virgin, I am the widow of a dream and want to remain unsatisfied”) – Mieko quotes these words, which she found in a story titled “L’Inconnue” by a nineteenth-century French writer called Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, in her shuki of  January , the anniversary of Kazuhiko’s death. Every year on that

Nomura Kazuhiko


day, except when she was in the United States, she called on Kazuhiko’s parents. In , she started for their house with flowers, but interruption of the train service because of an air raid prevented her from reaching her destination, and she had to walk home in the confusion. “This is the first time that I did not visit the house of the Nomura parents on Kazuhiko’s day,” she wrote. “The moon was shining clearly as on the night of eleven years ago. Both my brain and heart were numb and heavy due to a cold, and I walked two or three ri [eight or twelve kilometres], dragging my feet and ruminating on his death.” Mieko must have seen herself in the quotation from De l’Isle-Adam. She continues, “My psychology is somewhat like that. Sometimes I feel that I have been like a clown in the last eleven years. However, the way I behaved was too convincing to be mere acting and too costly for a mere dream ... What continuous sparkles the fact of remaining inassouvie [unsatisfied] creates within me! I have no option but death unless I manage to sublimate everything spiritually.” For a long time after Kazuhiko’s death the pain of existence was so intense that just to keep on living was a struggle. The idea of committing suicide must have occurred to her frequently at first. But we see from her shuki of  January  that even on the twelfth anniversary of his death, Mieko still wondered how she had managed to avoid committing suicide. One thing that contributed to her survival was a mystical experience that she had some time after Kazuhiko’s death, probably before many months had passed. Mieko makes one brief reference to it in her autobiography. When she discusses the concept of “inner light” among the  A Woman with Demons

uakers with whom she came into contact during her American days, she says, “I could not help thinking that this light was the same kind of light which had once saved me from the bottom of despair.”13 In chapter  of her work What Makes Our Life Worth Living she mentions the light experienced by “a Japanese woman” and quotes from this woman’s statement. There is no doubt that she is talking about her own experience: I had been suffering from sorrow and despair for days and days. The future appeared to be a pitch dark tunnel without an exit. I had been thinking that only insanity or suicide would be my ultimate option. I was sitting alone dejectedly when suddenly a dazzling light like a lightning bolt crossed my field of vision diagonally from the upper right-hand corner. At the same time my heart was filled with violent joy from its very bottom and I caught myself uttering words of triumph which were strange to myself. I wondered what or who was making me utter such words. This event was utterly unexpected and utterly incomprehensible to me. What is certain, however, is that it was then that for the first time I acquired strength and hope to get out of the quagmire of my despair which had held me in its grip for so long. It was a beginning of the gradual rebuilding of my new life.14 Here the light was not a mere metaphor but a real visual experience for Mieko. Some years later she said, “Mysticism would be the best characterNomura Kazuhiko


ization of my religion.”15 We will discuss other mystical experiences that Mieko had in due course.

ENCOU N TER W IT H LEPROSY In the months following the death of Nomura Kazuhiko, outwardly Mieko continued her normal life. A person of extraordinary inner resilience, Mieko did not neglect her studies even in the midst of her despair. Outwardly she did not betray her inner turmoil. Inwardly, however, she felt cut off from the world of ordinary people who seemed to take the value of life for granted. It was when she was in this state of mind that her first encounter with leprosy occurred. It was in  shortly after Kazuhiko’s death that she visited a leprosarium called Tama-zenshō-en in Tokyo, accompanying her uncle Kanazawa Tsuneo to play the organ for the Christian meeting at which Tsuneo was going to give a talk. Shortly before this visit, Mieko recalled in “Rai to watashi” (“Leprosy and I”),16 she had been asked by Miss Hoshino, the president of Tsuda College, about what she would like to contribute to society after her graduation. The conversation took place when she “was a second-year student, the year before my graduation.”17 Because Mieko entered Tsuda College in , some previous writers have assumed that this meant . However, since she graduated from Tsuda College in , “the year before my graduation” places the visit in . The contradiction is more apparent than real: since the academic year at Tsuda College ran from April to March, if 

A Woman with Demons

we assume the interview took place, for example, in February or March , Mieko would still have been a second-year student, though expecting to graduate in the following year. It is very likely, in fact, that the interview took place in March . In any case, Miss Hoshino divulged “a surprisingly concrete plan for my future,”18 which, to judge from what happened to Mieko later, very likely included the offer of a scholarship to study in the United States. It is obvious that Miss Hoshino talked with Mieko as one of the most promising students of Tsuda College, and this suggests that she had very likely seen the results of the final examinations of the – academic year, which Mieko took after  March , and knew how well Mieko had done in them.19 Since the visit to the leprosarium followed the interview with Miss Hoshino closely, both events must have taken place within a few months after Kazuhiko’s death in January. Mieko could not answer Miss Hoshino’s question with any conviction and inwardly wondered “What kind of contribution to society is possible for a person who cannot even handle her own mind?”20 Mieko alluded to her visit to the leprosarium in a letter of  January  to her parents as quoted in her diary entry of the same day: “I encountered leprosy at a time when I felt that I had lost all hopes for this world and I felt a strong tie to it. That motivated me to turn to medical studies.”21 The knowledge that Mieko’s encounter with leprosy took place when she was under the devastating effect of Kazuhiko’s death casts a new light on her desire to devote her life to leprosy victims. According to the prevailing interpretation, the privileged Mieko was motivated by a sense of Nomura Kazuhiko


obligation to the underprivileged, much as Albert Schweitzer had been. This interpretation emphasizes the difference between Mieko and leprosy victims. Indeed, her well-known poem “Raisha ni” (“To a Leper”) written in  during a visit to the Nagashima Aiseien leprosarium in Okayama prefecture, seems to emphasize the specialness of a leper and the vast difference that separates lepers from other human beings. Thus: Why you and not us? You have vicariously suffered on our behalf. You have been deprived of everything in our stead And have suffered torments of hell. Please forgive us, you who suffer from leprosy! Us who float shallowly and lightly on the sea of life, Manipulating pointlessly nice-sounding words like God and soul.22 The poem may well have expressed what was Mieko’s genuine sentiment at that particular moment. However, more characteristic of her attitude towards lepers is a sense of identity with them born of her experience of Kazuhiko’s death. Although the cause was different, she believed that her ensuing despair and loss of a sense of life’s meaning was not very different from the experiences of leprosy victims after their illness was diagnosed. Mieko regarded lepers as people who have been placed in what Karl Jaspers

 A Woman with Demons

called a limit-situation (Grenzsituation), into which any human being could fall through various causes. At the beginning of her paper “The Existence of a Man Placed in a Limit-Situation: An Anthropological Analysis of a Paranoid Case in a Leprosarium,” Mieko cites “being bereaved of loved ones” as one such cause. By emphasizing that “limit-situations belong to the very stuff of which life is made, and that sooner or later, all of us have to meet them in one form or another at least once in our lives,”23 it is clear that Mieko does not treat leprosy patients as special people. For many years, after the trauma of Kazuhiko’s death, Mieko did not feel that she really belonged to the world of ordinary people. It is a common experience that even the most intense emotion fades with the passage of time. In the case of Mieko, too, the passage of time mitigated the intensity of her pain. Thus, in her shuki of  February , a little more than ten years after Kazuhiko’s death, Mieko wrote: “It is really a matter to thank for that I am now free from that kind of pain. If I can be a person to whom those who suffer can pour out their pain and, on top of that, if I can be a person who can understand their minds, I did not have that kind of experience in vain. If I can achieve these two objectives, that would be enough. Let me make them my lifelong goals. Whenever I see a suffering human being, let me remember my own mind which once writhed in agony.” Mieko recovered very slowly, however, from the trauma of Kazuhiko’s death. Six years later, she still tasted the trauma of that loss, as her shuki of  April  shows: “I am reliving mentally every detail of what hap-

Nomura Kazuhiko


pened six years ago. I wonder what is the sense of the thing called ‘sorrow.’ I feel as if I were a human being from whom every drop of sorrow has been completely extracted. I do not even feel like indulging in the luxury of ruminating upon the past sorrow and shedding tears anew. I wonder if I have become unfeeling because of my sorrow.” Even ten years after Kazuhiko’s death, the loss was still so vivid in her mind that she burst into tears when she mentioned it in a conversation with her mother. As soon as I said, “Tomorrow it will be ten years since his death,” I was overcome by my emotion and burst into tears. I wonder if a person like myself who has had an experience as if the axle of life had broken can continue to lead a life similar to that of ordinary people. Am I entitled to live in ordinary society, let alone to marry? I am beset once again with the same old doubt. When I intend to lead an ordinary life and think of marriage as an option for me, I feel as if I were fooling myself or as if I were acting a role in a play. I cannot help thinking that the world of people who have lost all secular hopes is my world ... For, the very nature of my consciousness has become different from that of ordinary people from that day. People talk about my “detachment from this world” as if it were something admirable. However, if you seek its cause, it is nothing but a result of a very commonplace event. It merely shows that I was a person

 A Woman with Demons

with such a strong earthly attachment as to have been so deeply traumatized by it. My desire to go and work at a leprosarium does not come from the spirit of self-sacrifice. It simply means that I would like to live among people who are congenial to me. (Shuki,  January ) Leprosy victims were congenial to her because they too had “lost all secular hopes.” At that time Mieko felt it rather difficult to “live, with a pulverized heart, an ordinary life with ordinary people in this world” (shuki,  January ). This sentiment persisted for a very long time. The sorrow of having lost Kazuhiko was still very much alive just beneath her consciousness as many as twenty-six years after his death, ready to make its presence felt at moments when her conscious self-control slackened (see for example Mieko’s shuki of  July ). Even before she lost Kazuhiko, as we have seen, Mieko felt the pain of existence more than average people. After the death of Kazuhiko, the sensation of pain was so intensified that from time to time she was seized with a longing for death. In a somewhat attenuated form of that longing she desired to live apart from the ordinary world – as a kind of hermit or recluse. Living and working in a leprosarium was a variation of that desire. Although the motivation behind her wish to devote her life to leprosy victims may have been complex, its core was quite different from what is usually ascribed to her.

Nomura Kazuhiko


Mieko identified herself with leprosy patients to an extent that must have been quite exceptional even among doctors and nurses at a leprosarium. This is reflected in the fact that when she erroneously suspected that the virulent eczema which covered her face was leprosy, she was unafraid. After imagining the concrete details, she asked herself whether she could endure the fate of being a leper; the answer was “yes.” She wrote in her shuki on  May : “I thought that this would probably be a welcome eventuality for me for various reasons.” After her visit to the leprosarium in Tokyo in , Mieko who “had lost one raison de vivre and had been floating in the air” came to conceive “service to lepers as a new raison de vivre.”24 It appeared as an obvious new raison de vivre for her because it would give her an opportunity to serve people who were suffering in the same way as she was and with whom she felt a secret bond of solidarity. As Mieko explained in “Leprosy and I,” she started preparing for the entrance examination for Tokyo Women’s Medical College while she was in the final year at Tsuda College in order to realize her aspiration of serving leprosy patients. People around her, however, did not encourage her in her new scheme. Miss Hoshino, who hoped that Mieko would be a teacher, said, “Your idea is a product of girlish sentimentalism. To be a good teacher is no less difficult than to be a doctor for leprosy patients,”25 an opinion with which Mieko herself came to agree more and more as the years went by.26 Her father was dead against the idea of her becom-

 A Woman with Demons

ing a doctor for lepers. Her mother, who initially seemed to be in favour, changed her mind when she realized that her husband was strongly against it.27 As a compromise it was decided that Mieko would study for one year in the special university-level program of Tsuda College after graduation while teaching students in the preparatory program. She was thus given a period in which to decide whether medical study with a view to dedicating herself to leprosy patients was really what she wanted to do. T H E F IGH T AGA I NST T U BE RCU LOSIS In April  Mieko began the university-level program at Tsuda College, which was offered, according to Mieko’s autobiography, when more than five graduates of the regular collegiate program wanted to pursue it. She was taught, among others, by Nishiwaki Junzaburō, a well-known poet and scholar,28 but her studies were soon interrupted by an outbreak of pulmonary tuberculosis. Mieko does not say in her autobiographical writings exactly when she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Probably it was before the beginning of the summer vacation in . During the period when she was battling with TB , she expressed her sentiments in poems in the traditional waka form of five lines in a five-seven-five-seven-seven sequence of syllables. The first date that appears in the notebook containing these poems is September , but there are three poems that must have been written

Nomura Kazuhiko


earlier. The first of them mentions a cold tear drop that trickles down her cheeks late in the night. The second poem more or less says that each passing day, though painful, brings her that much nearer to the Kingdom of Heaven. The third poem, if paraphrased in English without any attempt to make it poetic, reads, “Even if this world should turn into hell, I still have a hope of sharing in the eternal glory of God.” None of these poems is impressive as an artistic creation but we can see that they were straightforward expressions of Mieko’s melancholic sentiment as she reeled under the dual blow of the death of Kazuhiko and of pulmonary tuberculosis, which was often fatal at that time. How Mieko dealt with her tuberculosis can be regarded as one of the remarkable chapters of her life story.29 She did not enter a sanatorium but instead went to her family’s cottage in Karuizawa. She wanted to avoid the possibility of infecting other members of her family. She occupied the second floor of the mountain cottage. The first floor was occupied by a local peasant couple who prepared meals for her, but her contact with them was kept to a minimum out of fear of infection. So she was very much alone. At one point she missed human contact so much that “crows cawing near my window sounded to me as if they were speaking a human language and I talked with them.”30 She led a regular life of reading, resting, sleeping, and taking walks after her fever was gone, as prescribed by her doctor. Although her ambition, which made her choose this solitary life rather than life in a sanatorium, was “to read great books of mankind


A Woman with Demons

as much as possible before my death,”31 Mieko thought that reading should be systematic so that she could follow her doctor’s injunctions to lead a normal life. She decided to read the books that were required reading for candidates for “the certificate examination of teachers of English of the higher level.” The successful candidates for this examination obtained a qualification equivalent to that of graduates of Japanese universities under the old system. She decided to prepare for this examination because her doctor had told her that marriage should be avoided for five years for health reasons even if she should be cured of tuberculosis; she anticipated a life as an unmarried person and wanted to be able to earn her living.32 Apparently the required books were all published in England. She devoted one hour to each of them with time for rest in between and strictly followed a timetable that she had prepared. Thus absorbing new knowledge in various fields such as English history, the history of English literature, linguistics, phonetics, and Shakespeare, she “forgot myself” for intellectual excitement. “I could forget everything, including my sufferings in the past and the death which hung over me,”33 Mieko wrote. In November  she left her mountain cottage to go to Tokyo to take the certificate examination. She passed. There is a photograph taken on this occasion by Hōchi Shinbun Newspaper Company.34 She must have attracted attention, either because she passed with great distinction or because, at the age of twenty-one, she was probably one of the youngest successful candidates. She used the occasion to have a medical checkup and

Nomura Kazuhiko


was told that her tuberculosis was “miraculously gone.”35 Now that Mieko was healthy again, Miss Hoshino urged her to go to the United States for further study and kindly made various arrangements for her. She had a relapse of pulmonary tuberculosis the following spring, however, and had to return to the mountain cottage once again, cancelling her reservation on the ship that would have taken her to the United States. From what her doctor said, she sensed that this time she had little hope of recovery, and she decided to read the great books she really wanted to read in their original languages. Among the authors whose works she read at the time were Carl Hilty (–) and Dante. But she devoted her main effort to reading classical Greek. Various leaders of non-church Christianity in Japan encouraged their followers to read the New Testament in the original by learning New Testament Greek. It was actually New Testament Greek that Mieko first taught herself at this time. Soon she was able to read the New Testament in the original. Then she had what she called a “heretical idea.”36 Not only Christianity but also the Greek and Latin classics were the foundations of Western civilization. “‘Now that I am given a completely free time before my death, I will learn classical Greek and read Homer, the tragedies, and Plato.’ I felt boundless excitement and joy in anticipation when I made this decision,”37 Mieko wrote in her autobiography. As soon as she finished a grammar book, she tackled the original Greek texts with the help of big dictionaries. Initially she had to look up numer-

 A Woman with Demons

ous words and phrases in the dictionaries and her texts became smudged with pencil marks. But, the meanings that shone out of them did not disappoint her. They led her “into a spacious, pure, new world.”38 As we shall see, this was the most Christian period of Mieko’s life. That she tried to expose herself to a tradition other than the Christian tradition by teaching herself classical Greek is an indication of her intellectual complexity and stature. Her impressive success in teaching herself Greek at this time is reflected in the fact that Mieko initially chose Greek literature as her field of specialization during her student days in the United States. Mieko’s autobiographical account of her time at the mountain cottage gives the impression that her battle against tuberculosis was simply a very fruitful period of study and personal growth, rather than a time of suffering and pain. However, this impression is modified somewhat by what we learn from other sources. We have already mentioned some of the poems Mieko wrote while she stayed at the mountain cottage. Taken as a whole these poems, more than eighty in number, give us a more sombre impression of Mieko at this time. It is also very likely that the following words attributed to “a certain girl suffering from tuberculosis” that appear in What Makes Our Life Worth Living are really an expression of how Mieko herself felt while she was a TB patient, just as the poems attributed to “a certain person who has lost a sense of the meaning of life” (Works, : ) or a quotation from what “a certain Japanese woman” wrote (ibid., ) really belong to her: “It seems that time has ceased to mean anything

Nomura Kazuhiko


to me. What exists is only my suffering self or the consciousness of suffering pain. This can never change no matter how much time lapses” (ibid., ). Thus, the time Mieko spent in the mountain cottage as a tuberculosis patient was by no means simply a positive period of learning and growth. It was also a period of great suffering. What sustained her was her Christian faith and her mystical experiences. One of Mieko’s poems was written on  April , very likely the day that her doctor once again diagnosed the presence of tuberculosis. Titled “Saihatsu” (“Relapse”), its paraphrase in prose would be as follows: “Gladly do I accept my relapse, as all events, both unhappy and happy, occur in order that God’s will be done.” The sentiment expressed here may be characterized as conventionally Christian. As for her mystical experiences during this period in Karuizawa, the following quotation from her shuki of  July  seems to refer to them in retrospect: “I remember the time when I would walk around in the twilight as I do now, with a heavy, heavy heart, sobbing silently. Each time, I heard a voice from behind a pine tree or from the midst of a grassy place, offering me a most profound consolation.” It seems that here Mieko is talking about the mystical experience of hearing a voice, and not about an ordinary experience, such as remembering a certain consoling biblical passage during her walk, dressed up in metaphorical language.


A Woman with Demons

In her book Ningen o mitsumete (Towards Understanding Man) Mieko quotes a poem titled “Utsuwa no uta” (“A Song of a Vessel”) by “a certain person.” The following is an English paraphrase of the first two stanzas: I am a vessel To receive love. The vessel is like a rotten tree. May break down at any moment. Love, however, is water of life, Comes from a great fountain, Wells up on and on, Never exhausts itself.39 In Towards Understanding Man there is the following explanation of the “certain person” who wrote this poem: “The person who wrote this poem had an illness which people abhorred and was alienated from ordinary society. Nevertheless, she was overflowing with life. I cannot doubt that because I witnessed it with my own eyes.”40 Actually “A Song of a Vessel” is one of the poems that Mieko published under the pen name Toba Mitsuko between  and  in a magazine called Seiryū (A Pure Stream) and that was later reprinted in her book Utsuwa no uta, published post-

Nomura Kazuhiko


humously in . Since the poem bears the date  December ,41 it was written towards the end of Mieko’s battle against tuberculosis, as we shall see. It seems that Mieko, who at the time was suffering intensely according to some documentary evidence, could also be “overflowing with life,” at least from time to time, because she could transcend her sufferings through her faith and, especially, through her mystical experiences. In her paper “The Existence of a Man Placed in a Limit-Situation: An Anthropological Analysis of a Paranoid Case in a Leprosarium,” Mieko treats a patient, K.N., in a leprosarium who heard a voice that he believed was the voice of “a supernatural, personified being,” or “God,” as a paranoid case. Just as the voice Mieko heard “from behind a pine tree or from the midst of a grassy place” gave her profound consolation and sustained her in the darkest period of her life, the voice K.N. heard rescued him from despair and gave him a new sense of meaning in his life and made him known as “a queer but noble personality”42 who was “oriented towards an almost ‘superhuman’ love of his fellow patients.”43 There seem to be some similarities between the Mieko of this period and this paranoid patient. In the section on the sense of mission (shimeikan) in chapter  of Towards Understanding Man, Mieko writes, “Patients with mental illness very often have a sense of mission. This fact always makes me wonder why.”44 K.N. was convinced that he had been “given by the voice an important mission to save the world and Japan.”45 This is another point of similarity between this patient and Mieko. Through her sufferings Mieko became a person

 A Woman with Demons

with a strong sense of mission, although the specifics of that sense are not easy to reduce to words. Thus, in her shuki of  January , she wrote, “I must bear every frustration and disadvantage coming from outside for the sake of my Bestimmung [mission]. My life from the time of Kazuhiko’s death does not belong to me at all. My taste and my happiness have nothing to do with it.” The similarities between Mieko and K.N. seem to suggest that at one time Mieko’s inner world was not unlike that of a paranoid patient, especially for several years after Kazuhiko’s death, including the period in Karuizawa during which she battled tuberculosis. In her shuki of  March , Mieko characterized that time as “several years in which I could find support only in God.” It was the most overtly religious period of her life. In various places she metaphorically referred to it as her spell “in a nunnery.” In Toba Mitsuko Notebook, one of the autobiographical pieces she intended to write was titled “From a nunnery to the world.” It was a period in which, despite the severe blows inflicted on her by Kazuhiko’s death and her tuberculosis, Mieko could lead an outwardly normal life thanks to the strength given by her Christian faith and mystical experiences. The similarities between the Mieko of this period and K.N. would not have surprised the older Mieko because as a psychiatrist she seems to have supported the view “that there is no gap between the inner world of a mental patient and that of a normal person despite the surface appearance of vast difference.”46 That Mieko eventually came to sense that there was

Nomura Kazuhiko


something abnormal or pathological about the way she was at that time suggests that she was a normal person who, by being placed in a limitsituation, exhibited some of the same characteristics as a paranoid patient without actually being paranoid herself. Nearly a quarter of a century after her days as a TB patient, she wrote about her friendship with some of the patients in a sanatorium for women with TB called the Garden Home adjacent to where she received pneumothorax treatment: I remember most vividly the period when I frequented the Garden Home ... I clung exclusively and fanatically to the Christian faith of the non-church variety, and I felt a kind of bizarre fascination in visiting Fumiko in her sick bed to observe how her mind was gradually possessed by God or in witnessing on the spot how K, both of whose lungs had been almost totally affected by tuberculosis, died in fits of coughing which convulsed her whole body. My psychological abnormality at the time when we had a funeral for S – what was it, I wonder?47 Mieko regularly went to a sanatorium in Nakano, Tokyo, to receive pneumothorax treatment, which was new at the time. It was because her doctor was also connected with the Garden Home that she came to


A Woman with Demons

befriend several patients there, many of whom died. “The world of illness and death was my element at that time,”48 Mieko wrote later. Mieko again managed to recover from tuberculosis. Her renewed health enabled her to study in the United States after all. Her stay in the US helped her to come out of the “nunnery” and lead a more normal life. The life within – the life centring around her religious and mystical visions – retained its charm and fascination for Mieko for some time after she had left it. Eventually, however, she came to see it as a very abnormal life, as we have seen. Her negative re-evaluation of the overtly religious period of her life began as early as  when she no longer remembered the period in the “nunnery” with nostalgia. Her American sojourn was the first step out of it.

Nomura Kazuhiko


p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p


Progress towards the Affirmation of Life: The American Days, –

PENDLE HILL COLLEGE In October  Mieko’s father, Maeda Tamon, was appointed director of the Japan Institute in New York. Maeda Tamon had been working for the Asahi Newspaper Company as an editorial writer since . As a liberal, he was opposed to the militaristic tendencies of the time. Free expression of his views, however, became more and more difficult after the outbreak in  of the Manchurian Incident, a military aggression by the Japanese army that led to the creation of the Chinese puppet state of Manchukuo in . Freedom of speech became even more restricted after the February  Incident of , a failed coup d’état by young army officers that, neverthe-

less, established the political dominance of the military. He was an undesirable person in the eyes of the militarists who had gained power and he began to be followed by persons who may have been agents of the special police in charge of “thought crimes.” It was apparently to keep him from harm that his friends had recommended Maeda Tamon for the position in New York.¹ Mieko arrived in New York with her parents, her sister Toshiko, and her brother Hisao in late October , having sailed from Yokohama on  October .2 According to her autobiography, upon her arrival in the United States Mieko entered the Department of Classics at Columbia University as a graduate student in Greek literature.3 Her shuki, however, suggests that she could not have been admitted into a regular postgraduate program in the autumn of . After various unforeseen events at the time of her arrival in the United States, Mieko submitted a request on  January  to the Office of Admission of Columbia University that she be admitted as a master’s candidate in Greek. The reply, which she received on  January , said that she had to do general undergraduate work for two years before she could be accorded the status of a graduate student.4 Apparently Mieko just audited a few courses in classical Greek literature at Columbia University in the autumn of 5 and studied it formally at Bryn Mawr College in .6 Whatever the exact status and location of her studies, Mieko was not completely happy with them. For one thing, she was not sure what she could do with a degree in Greek once she was

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


back in Japan.7 More importantly, she was not sure whether the study of Greek was what she really wanted to do as her life’s work. She needed a hiatus to find out what she really wanted to do before making any major decision about her life. This precious period was provided by Pendle Hill College, a uaker institution founded in  where people engaged in free investigation of social and religious issues without being bothered by examinations and grades.8 Mieko’s mother, as we have seen, was a graduate of a Friends’ girls’ school and she had friends among American uakers. One of them told her about Pendle Hill College and she recommended it to her daughter. Mieko’s mother was critical of the exclusiveness and intolerance of nonchurch Christianity and apparently attributed Mieko’s problems to the excessive hold non-church Christianity had over her. She hoped that a stay at Pendle Hill College might neutralize it.9 When Mieko arrived at the college, she was still very much a nonchurch Christian, and she judged various things there from that perspective. So at the time, she did not esteem Pendle Hill College or the people whom she met there as highly as her autobiography, completed nearly forty years later, suggests. After spending several weeks at the college, she believed that she had found what was wrong with the people there. She wrote in her shuki of  March : “The Christianity of people at Pendle Hill lacks power because these people do not feel any need for Crucifixion [atonement of their sin through the crucified Christ] ... What a waste is

 A Woman with Demons

committed here despite tons of ‘good will’ and ‘good ideas’ on account of their lack of the most crucial ‘one thing.’” On that day she prayed to God that she be allowed to convert even one single person to His truth, that is, to her version of Christianity. Pendle Hill seems, nevertheless, to have influenced Mieko significantly. She herself acknowledged that her stay there was helping her growth. Again in her shuki of  March  she wrote: “Life at Pendle Hill seems to have benefited me negatively. It has stimulated my thinking by creating in me a desire for rebuttal. This is how I grow.” Mieko in Japan had had few opportunities to engage in the free, unfettered discussion of various issues – religious, social, political, and so on – that Pendle Hill offered. Although the substance of her thought did not change so quickly, the desire to free herself from convention and think for herself was born and nurtured at the college. One of the few people at Pendle Hill of whose Christianity Mieko approved was one Dora Wilson. She gave a Bible class that approached the Bible without any preconceptions. In her autobiography Mieko acknowledges that this method, which she learned from Wilson, was an important factor in freeing her from the rigid framework of non-church Christianity.10 “To receive truth with my heart and brain, unfettered by all conventions, and express it in my life and in my literary work seems to be my mission in life for the time being. This realization would not have come to me so clearly if I had not come to Pendle Hill,” Mieko wrote in her shuki of  May .

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


Mieko at Pendle Hill was a beautiful girl of twenty-five. On top of that she had had mystical experiences, and the sense that she was a exceptional person in religious terms must have been quite alluring to people who had come to Pendle Hill in search of something that would satisfy their spiritual need. Mieko soon found herself at the hub of various relationships at Pendle Hill, especially attracting young men, which made some of the women at the college quite jealous of her, as one of them confessed later.11 Among the young men who were attracted to her was F. He was four years younger than Mieko and his lifelong aspiration, according to Mieko, was to understand the fetters that bound Western thought.12 He wanted to learn from Mieko about such topics as the Eastern way of thinking and non-church Christianity.13 F. was interested in bird watching and often went on birdwalks. Mieko sometimes accompanied him. On  February  she wrote in her shuki: “Went to Crum Creek with F. at night. The wood, the valley, and the stream enveloped in fog were beautiful as in a fairy tale. They were so beautiful in fact that I was almost moved to tears.”14 F. became quite devoted to Mieko. It was he who went to the station to meet her one night when she did not return to Pendle Hill at the expected time from a trip to New York to see her family.15 It was also F. who typed fifteen extra copies of Mieko’s paper “The Attitude of Christian Faith,” which she presented on  June  and of which many people requested


A Woman with Demons

a copy.16 F. was among the young men from Pendle Hill who sailed to Europe in the summer of  on the same ship as Mieko, who was on her way to Paris to visit Yōichi’s family. Thus he had further opportunities to meet Mieko after her stay at Pendle Hill was over. Mieko must have been aware that F. was quite attached to her or possibly even in love with her, but she did not take him very seriously. In her shuki of  July , she comments on their meeting that day in Paris: “Although he is still only twenty-one years old, what this child thinks is so transparent that I am moved to pity him.” Clearly, she did not view “this child” (kono ko) as her equal. Mieko used the English word “transparent” in the passage, which was otherwise all in Japanese. On that day F. had talked about the question of international marriage. By “transparent” did Mieko mean that she thought that F. had mentioned the question of international marriage as a rather obvious hint that he wished to marry her? If so, her discouragement of international marriage in general in reply to F. (“in my opinion one should marry a person belonging to the same country as much as possible”) was an indirect, if unceremonious way of saying that she had no interest in marrying him. The final farewell between Mieko and F., which took place two days later on  July , also made the inequality of their relationship quite clear. Mieko wrote as follows in her shuki of that date: “I was moved to pity by his dejected appearance at the time of our leave-taking.” As Mieko

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


admitted some months later, she had disturbed many hearts because of her sexual attractiveness since leaving Japan in , including at Pendle Hill.17 F. was clearly one of them. As for N., another young man from Pendle Hill who was in some ways attracted to Mieko, she took him far more seriously than F. Mieko seems to have recognized in him a man who was her equal intellectually and morally, though a bit younger than herself. At Pendle Hill Mieko had ample opportunity to get to know N. For one thing, in February  they formed a group of four consisting of two young men (F. being the other one) and two young women to discuss the reform of Pendle Hill College. The outcome of their discussions was a reform plan that was presented to the principal, Howard Brinton, on  March . Their plan was apparently not without some effect. They were given an opportunity to discuss it with the principal and his wife on the following day and Mieko “was very impressed with their fair and open attitude” (shuki,  March ). In April  four people including Mieko and N. (very likely the same four who had submitted the reform plan) organized themselves into a study group to meet on Tuesday evenings to discuss the Bible. Their first meeting was held on  April . Mieko wrote in her shuki of that date: “In the afternoon I read the Gospel according to Mark in Greek from the beginning to the end at one sitting as a preparation for the meeting of the study group in the evening. That meeting in the evening

 A Woman with Demons

was profitable, as we could discuss issues to our heart’s content.” Roughly a month before, when residents of Pendle Hill presented their papers during “Report Week,” Mieko commented on N.’s paper in her shuki of  March : “The cosmology of N. is beautiful and noble. However, I am surprised that someone has become a religious seeker from such a starting point.” N. was an earnest religious seeker, but he had a difficulty in accepting orthodox Christian teachings, such as the divinity of Jesus Christ.18 Mieko, who herself eventually deviated quite radically from orthodox Christian beliefs, was still an adherent of the major Christian doctrines. She believed that she had already found religious truth. Accordingly, despite her high esteem for N. (“I cannot help admiring his sincerity”; “he is an important person for me”),19 she behaved towards N. somewhat like a Zen master who judges whether the enlightenment of a disciple is genuine. In their religious discussions, Mieko kept rejecting N.’s religious understandings as something short of Truth. She did not enjoy playing this adversarial role. At one time, she records in her shuki of  June , the awareness that she was hurting N. overpowered her and she went outside alone, where she burst into tears: “Choked with the fragrance of honeysuckles and tears, I complained aloud to God, ‘It is enough. It is enough.’ Only because I am entrusted with Truth, I cannot give N. relief by accepting his answers after a while but have to keep rejecting them by saying ‘Not yet’ ... To play such a role with N. painlessly, I am too much of a woman.”

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


However, it was important to her that she should share the same faith with N., of whom she thought very highly.20 Mieko presented her paper “The Attitude of Christian Faith,” which, according to her, was intended for people like N.,21 on  June . N. presented his paper six days later on  June . Listening to his presentation, Mieko was deeply moved, because the conclusion was “so Christian in my sense as if he had written it just to please me.” She went outside and prayed to God with “a profound, solemn sense of gratitude.” She concludes, “What I thought was beyond hope has been realized. It was worthwhile for me to have come to Pendle Hill.”22 Those words suggest that by the time Mieko left Pendle Hill, N. had become very important to her. A significant fact about N. was his resemblance to Mieko’s deceased lover, Nomura Kazuhiko. N. also travelled to Europe on the same boat with Mieko in the summer of . It was thanks to a chance question of N.’s on that voyage that Mieko became fully aware of the resemblance and realized that it had unconsciously or half-consciously influenced her relationship with N. On  June  N. asked, during a meal, “Miyeko, have you anything to do with Cello [sic]? I don’t know why, but yesterday night, when I was looking at the man playing Cello, I thought of you.”23 The cello, of course, had been Kazuhiko’s instrument. Mieko was startled and felt that N. had somehow intuitively sensed something of her past without her ever having explained it to him.

 A Woman with Demons

On the following day Mieko of her own accord told him about her past. She wrote in her shuki of  June, “I explained my personal history to N., when a suitable occasion arose, with the words, ‘Shall I tell you about the cello affair, N.? I think I owe it to you for your wonderful intuition,’ as the introduction.”24 It is in the shuki of the same date that we find the following unexpected statement: “N. resembles him [Kazuhiko] remarkably somehow, from temperament to appearance. From our first encounter at Pendle Hill, I seem to have registered that resemblance at the bottom of my consciousness. I told this to N. honestly.” In Toba Mitsuko Notebook, we find a plan for a collection of stories based on Mieko’s own experiences during her American days titled “From My Travel Notebook” (“Tabi no techō yori”). One of the chapters she envisaged for that collection is called “Idyll” and Mieko’s explanation, given in Japanese after the title, says “N. in love, with the young birdlover [F.] as the secondary character.” The word “idyll” appears in connection with N. elsewhere in the same notebook where she plans an autobiographical novel in five chapters covering the periods from her Geneva days to her American days – “N. – An Idyll. The graceful parting in Paris [original in English].” The word also appears in a section heading, “An Idyll in the Summer,” in the chapter devoted to her American days, which is sandwiched between “Search for a Religion – Pendle Hill” and “From a Liberal Arts Student to a Science Student.”

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


From the phrase “The graceful parting in Paris,” it seems that when Mieko wrote “N. in love” she regarded herself as the object of that love. The use of the word “idyll” suggests that the relationship between Mieko and N. was not one-sided, though “N. in love” might suggest that only N. was emotionally involved in their relationship. When Mieko conceived the idea of writing a work titled “An Idyll in the Summer,” she probably wanted to preserve, among others, the pleasant memory of a walk she had with N. in the countryside of Scotland on  June . In her shuki of that day she wrote, “I felt as if I had returned to my romantic self of bygone days.” Mieko had not been able to spend any time with Kazuhiko after they had realized that they were in love. With this young man, whom Mieko came to esteem highly as a person and a friend during her stay at Pendle Hill, she shared some memorable moments in the summer of  during their voyage and once they had arrived in Europe. Her feeling towards him must have been akin to romantic love. Mieko met N. for the last time on  July  in Paris and they never saw each other again. They corresponded until , but they lost contact with the outbreak of war between Japan and the United States in December . It was in , three and a half decades later, that their correspondence was resumed. Mieko explains to N. in a letter of  September  why she did not reply immediately to his letter, which she had received after a roughly thirty-five-year interval: “Among the many reasons for my procrastination, the essential one was my desire to keep your image

 A Woman with Demons

intact in my memory.”25 These words seem to corroborate my view that her feeling towards N. in the summer of  was akin to romantic love. While at Pendle Hill, Mieko not only befriended young people such as F. and N. but she established friendships with several people who were significantly older than herself, among them the principal of Pendle Hill College and his wife, and an exiled former German cabinet minister. She learned a lot from her intercourse with these people, as we can see from her autobiography. Probably the most interesting among them from our point of view is Caroline Graveson, a visitor from England who gave a series of lectures under the title “Challenge of Psychology to Religion.” She showed remarkable insight into Mieko, who came to believe that she was endowed with a sort of clairvoyance.26 Indeed, Graveson seems to have possessed an uncanny ability to predict the future course of Mieko’s life. Graveson clearly saw that Mieko was a very complex person with various impulses some of which contradicted each other. It was she who observed, as recorded by Mieko in Toba Mitsuko Notebook: “You must be at a loss what to do when you get up in the morning, so many things you would like to do, and could do well.” Her ability to foresee Mieko’s future may have been based on her ability to understand the relative strengths of Mieko’s many talents and aspirations better than Mieko herself. One of Graveson’s remarkable predictions was made around the time she returned to England. In her autobiography Mieko says that she made the prediction in person while taking leave of Mieko,27 but it was actu-

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


ally offered in a letter that Mieko probably received in . Mieko reread this letter in February  and recorded it thus: “A passage from Caroline Graveson’s letter (The sense only): When medicine, marriage, and motherhood (three M’s!) will be over, when the right time will come, I am sure you will write. With all your experiences in life, study and places I feel it is your part thus to serve humanity or in any other ways.” At the time that Graveson made her prediction, Mieko was single and it was not at all certain that she would ever marry, let alone have children.28 Another truly remarkable prediction was made on  June  when Mieko saw Graveson again in London during her trip to Europe. By the time she met her, Mieko had obtained her father’s permission to pursue medical studies to become a doctor. Mieko wrote about their meeting on that day as follows: “I met Caroline Graveson at the Friend’s House at ten o’clock in the morning, and then she treated me to a lunch at a vegetarian restaurant. How warm and pure was her love towards me. She rejoiced with me that a way had been opened for me to become a doctor. She added, however, that I would probably turn to psychiatry later.”29 At the time, psychiatry had not at all entered Mieko’s mind, and her intention was to specialize in preventive medicine, in view of the epidemic of tuberculosis in Japan. To specialize in leprosy would not have met her parents’ approval.30 As we shall see in due course, each element of Graveson’s predictions proved true.


A Woman with Demons

We have already seen that Mieko travelled to Europe on the same ship as F. and N. in the summer of . Before concluding this section, I should explain why she made this voyage and describe another important event, unrelated to her Pendle Hill connections, that occurred during her trip. It was responsible, at least partially, for the personal crisis that Mieko experienced after her return to the United States on  August . In May , the month before Mieko’s stay at Pendle Hill was over, Mieko received a letter from her brother Yōichi in Paris. Yōichi’s wife was expecting a baby, their third child, and they wanted Mieko to come to Paris to help in the house at the time of the delivery. On the day that letter arrived ( May), Mieko immediately set about booking a passage on the ship that was taking F. and N. to Europe that summer, and she sailed for France on the S.S. Cameronia on  June . Mieko arrived in France on  June . She was met at St Lazare Station by Yōichi and his daughter and was then taken in a taxi to her brother’s home at  Rue Raffet. On  August  Mieko boarded the S.S. De Grasse to return to New York. She had been very busy for several days before her departure. She wrote in her shuki, “Today around noon I boarded this ship. It is ten o’clock in the evening. I am alone, sitting in my cabin. How eventful these days have been. The half of them was a nightmare. The other half was a pure, joyful dream” ( August ). By “these days” she probably meant her whole trip to Europe that summer and not just the days immediately

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


preceding her embarkation. The “pure, joyful dream” is very likely an allusion to her relationship with N., about which she planned to write “An Idyll in the Summer,” as we have already seen. The nightmare, it seems, was created by an unexpected turn in her friendship with H., a fellow non-church Christian with whom Mieko corresponded fairly regularly. On  March , Mieko recorded the arrival of a “loving” (aishin ni afureta) letter from him. He was at that time studying in Germany. In Mieko’s understanding their relationship was based on Christian fellowship and not on romantic attachment or sexual attraction. That H. belonged to the opposite sex was a matter of no importance to her. During Mieko’s stay in France, H. came to see her despite a letter she sent on  July to the effect that he should not come all the way from Germany. He arrived on  August , nevertheless, and they met a few times. It soon became obvious that H.’s understanding of their relationship was quite different from hers. In her shuki of  August, she wrote: “I went to the woods with H. and talked with him in order to request a severance of our relationship. I realize that he misunderstood me terribly.” We do not know for certain what Mieko meant, but we can guess. Very likely H. regarded their relationship not as a mere fellowship of two Christians but as that of two lovers and presumably proposed a sexual relationship. This supposition seems to be corroborated by a reference to H. in Mieko’s shuki of  December  during a period of crisis that we


A Woman with Demons

will deal with in the next section: “The origin of all these problems, I believe, was the experience of this summer. The insult I received from H. has degraded me. So has the one from L. After all, it is men who corrupt women – by making them awake.” L. was another young man belonging to the non-church Christian circles with whom Mieko had been friends for some time, believing again that their relationship was purely one of Christian fellowship; L. too had upset her by behaving contrary to her expectation. A CR ISIS AN D ITS R ESOLUTION Before proceeding further, I should explain Mieko’s renewed aspiration to study medicine, which I have mentioned only in a very cursory manner. In Mieko’s autobiography the topic is treated more or less as the most dramatic event of her American days. This is natural since her life would have been completely different if she had not studied medicine. According to her autobiography, the revival of Mieko’s interest in medicine was a straightforward story. The first step towards it was encouragement from Uraguchi Masa, a female Japanese biologist whom Mieko met and roomed with at Pendle Hill and with whom she was to remain close friends to the end of her life. It was Uraguchi who made Mieko realize that medical study was still within the realm of possibility despite her brushes with tuberculosis.31 The second step was the sudden reversal of her

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


father’s attitude towards his daughter’s studying medicine. Maeda Tamon had strongly opposed Mieko’s idea of entering Tokyo Women’s Medical College after graduating from Tsuda College. But he was impressed by Mieko’s passionate interest in exhibitions relating to medicine when they went to the World Exposition in New York together on  May , and he told her later that day that he would support her medical studies.32 Finally a certain passage in Plato’s Republic, which she had been reading in the original Greek as a source of guidance during her trans-Atlantic voyages, helped her to decide once and for all to study medicine:33 “It was when I read this passage that I resolved to pursue what I really wanted to do, no matter what obstacles I might encounter. It is forty years since then, but I have never wavered in my resolve to pursue medicine.”34 Accordingly, Mieko’s autobiography tells us, immediately upon her return from her trip to France, she returned to Columbia University, this time to take premedical courses. The dean from whom she requested a transfer from the graduate school in the Faculty of Arts to the undergraduate school in the Faculty of Science looked very surprised and tried to dissuade her. But she was firm.35 According to her autobiography, she commenced premedical studies at Columbia in September  and continued to study there with great enthusiasm until the imminent war and other circumstances made her decide to return to Japan. Comparing what Mieko actually wrote during her American days with her autobiography, written roughly forty years later, shows that her recol-


A Woman with Demons

lections are accurate as far as the first two steps towards a renewed interest in medicine are concerned. This is not the case, however, with the third step and with what happened after her arrival in New York. Her resolve to study medicine was actually far less firm than her autobiography suggests.36 What began shortly after Mieko’s return from France was a period of personal crisis in which she lost her sense of orientation. On  September  she wrote in her shuki: “I am deeply ashamed of how I lived and felt since my return from Europe. I thank God that He has not let me go insane.” Again, on  November: “I am deeply ashamed of my life in the last three weeks and during the whole month of September.” Her shuki reveals the following sequence of events. Before her trip to Europe in the summer of , it had been decided that she was to pursue the premedical program at Bryn Mawr College (rather than at Columbia University) starting in the autumn of . The Tsuda Umeko scholarship committee, which had offered her a scholarship to study Greek, was gracious enough not to withdraw the offer even after she decided to study medicine. Thus, all the arrangements had been made for Mieko to enrol in the premedical program at Bryn Mawr. Then suddenly on  September  Mieko decided to follow premedical courses at Barnard College in New York City rather than at Bryn Mawr College mainly in order to ease her father’s loneliness.37 This sudden change of plan apparently infuriated the chairperson of the Tsuda Umeko scholarship committee,38 but that alone would not have been such a serious matter had she not also

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


withdrawn from the premedical program at Barnard College by the end of October . The disappearance of a concrete goal left her disorientated. As she wrote in her shuki of  November , “I have been in a stupor since [her withdrawal from Barnard College]. As I had staked so much, this sudden loss of an aim makes me lose my centre of gravity and stagger.” She did not feel like doing anything, but overcoming her “lethargy” she registered herself in a Greek course and a German course at Columbia University in November. Her comment on the German course – “It appears to be a very demanding course, so it is excellent to kill time”39 – seems to indicate that these courses had no meaning for her except to give her something to do. Why did she give up her long-cherished dream of studying medicine? The ostensible reason was anxiety about her health, the fear of a new outbreak of tuberculosis if she continued her medical studies. She exaggerated the importance of a cold that she had caught, suspecting that it might be a symptom of something worse. Her shuki of  October  reads, “Is my study really making too much of a demand on my health? It would be too late to quit after a new outbreak of tuberculosis. It may be best to quit now.” She made a decision to quit Barnard College on the following day.40 Mieko’s decision to give up medicine seems rather abrupt. The cold that she had caught on  October was a bad one and would not go away for more than ten days, but that would not have made her quit the premedical program at Barnard College if she had been in a normal state of mind.

 A Woman with Demons

Various entries in her shuki, such as “I do not understand myself in the period from this summer” ( December ) and “I feel as if I had been ill for a long time” ( December ) suggest that her psychological equilibrium had been badly shaken. As we have mentioned, Mieko clung to the idea of lifelong celibacy to remain faithful to Kazuhiko’s memory. We can see in this the influence of Fujii Takeshi, the non-church Christian evangelist with a considerable literary talent whom we have already mentioned. His lamentation over the death of his wife in the long poem “Hitsuji no konin” (“The Marriage of the Lamb”) must have touched Mieko’s heart. She had gone through a similar experience after Kazuhiko’s death. By the time Mieko came to discuss Fujii’s influence in her autobiography, she had become critical of his condemnation of romantic love and of remarriage as expressions of an asceticism that ignores human nature. In her earlier life, however, “it seems that due to Mr Fujii’s influence I concluded that a person like me (i.e., a person who had received a stamp of sorrow from outside) should never marry.”41 She wanted to remain single after Kazuhiko’s death just as Fujii had remained single to the end of his life after the death of his wife. Mieko’s resolution never to marry was strengthened by the intimate relationship that had evolved between her and Kazuhiko’s parents, Nomura Kodō and Nomura Hana. United, in part, by devotion to the memory of Kazuhiko, their attachment to each other was genuine and intense. When on  October , three days before her departure for the United

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States, she went to say a farewell to them, she cried, pressing her cheeks against the verandah door of their house.42 Three days later at the pier of Yokohama Kazuhiko’s parents stood for a long, long time, shedding tears and watching Mieko’s ship slowly disappear out of sight.43 This was probably an additional reason why Mieko decided never to marry: she wanted always to be available to them as a daughter figure. They had “indeed been my father and mother during these six years” [since Kazuhiko’s death], as she told them in a long letter of  December , which she copied into her shuki of the same date. Mieko’s mental peace and psychological equilibrium were first destroyed by the realization that it would be very difficult for her to remain single to the end of her life. The letter to Kazuhiko’s parents of  December  was written to explain that she had abandoned her previous decision to remain single. It shows how painful it was for her to relinquish this dream: “I have never realized that human life is such a sad affair,” she told them. “My previous idea that I should lead my life without thinking of marrying anybody any longer [after the death of Kazuhiko] was based on a big misunderstanding about people and myself,” wrote Mieko in her shuki of  December . This big misunderstanding consisted of underestimating the power of sexuality, and, as we have seen, it was during her trip to Europe in the summer of  that she was made keenly aware of that. She was an extremely attractive person in the eyes of men, although on the surface she did not at all conform to the usual image of a glamorous

 A Woman with Demons

girl, for she always looked serene.44 She herself became painfully aware of her sexual attractiveness. “Come to think of it, ever since I left Japan, I have had problems continuously. During the voyage, during my stay at Pendle Hill, everywhere, I have disturbed people’s hearts,” says Mieko in the letter to Kazuhiko’s parents cited above. “I have disturbed people’s hearts” clearly means “People fell in love with me” in this context. Did she deliberately try to attract these people? It seems that it was during her summer trip in  that the possibility that she might have done so first occurred to her. In her shuki of  July , she talks about a certain type of woman. This passage is surely a self-portrait: “Such a woman, she combines in herself a motherly type and a vamp type. She attracts men one after another by elevating the maternal in her to saintliness. And she causes suffering to herself and to these men. Then she abandons them one by one. What great trouble she causes them!” From this time on the suspicion that she was an unconscious or half-conscious seducer recurred to her from time to time. Man was not just spirit but also flesh. As we have already seen, this was brought home to her through her relationship with two non-church Christian men whom she had befriended believing that their friendship was a pure spiritual communion between fellow Christians. Having lived for a month in a state of anomie after abandoning her premedical studies at Barnard College, Mieko, in her shuki of  December , attributed to the shock of those relationships the beginning of the collapse of all her cher-

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


ished dreams: “With my dream about marriage (i.e. to remain single to the end of my life) shattered and with the way to the realization of what I thought was my mission blocked (at least, for the time being), I have spent a month in the misery of aimless life, which entailed loss of discipline and surrender to instincts ... The orign of all these problem was, I believe, an experience in this summer.” Mieko came to realize with a shock the power of sexuality. She realized not only that she attracted men but that she was also attracted by men. This realization made marriage emerge suddenly as a realistic possibility around the time that she was embarking on her premedical studies. In her shuki of  September , we find the following words: “I thought about the possibility of marriage for the first time consciously as if I had heard a voice saying ‘Ich werde heiraten’ [I will marry]. I was startled by the idea. I wrote the sentence on a piece of paper. The written sentence created an eerie feeling within me. Accordingly I felt depressed till evening and could not get much from my study of chemistry. I even felt that there wouldn’t be much sense in bothering to study if I was going to marry sooner or later.” The last part of this quotation should be understood against the background of an age when marriage and a professional career were mutually exclusive for most Japanese women. Around the time she started her premedical studies in September , the abandonment of the idea of lifelong celibacy had made marriage a realistic option for Mieko and this might explain the surprising ease with which she withdrew from the premedical program at Barnard College towards the end of October . It was Mieko’s realization that she might not  A Woman with Demons

remain single that led indirectly to the temporary abandonment of her aspiration to study medicine. It is not accurate to say that Mieko positively wanted to marry. Certain entries in her shuki suggest that she felt that she had no real option but to marry, given her new realistic understanding of herself and others. On  September  she wrote: “I wish that the time which is given to me to live in this world were short. Then I would not have to think about marriage. I am full of desire to single-mindedly serve people, and yet how complicated human society and human life are! As I say this, I am aware that I cannot control myself totally.” She continued: “There is also the problem of Geschlechtstrieb [sexual impulse]. From that point of view, marriage is an urgent necessity. I cannot, however, bring myself to become a veritable materialist.” Despite this last sentence, by  September  Mieko seems to have taken the first concrete step towards marriage, judging from the following quotation taken from her shuki of  September : “Last evening after I had done everything in accordance with the dictates of Reason, suddenly I came to myself. I had not been aware that human life was such a lamentable affair.” What we can make of this rather obscure passage is the following: Mieko decided that the most reasonable course of action to take, given the power of sexuality, was to get married. In Japan at that time young men and women from respectable families did not normally find marriage partners by courting directly; courtship involved the help of others – parents, family friends, and so on – who would suggest prospective marriage partners and then arrange a miai Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


(marriage interview) to permit the concerned parties to have a glimpse of each other before deciding whether to accept or reject the prospective spouse. There were variations according to individual circumstances, but generally young people needed assistance from others to get married even when they knew each other. Mieko’s shuki suggests that she had contacted someone close to her (very likely her mother) to indicate her willingness to accept help in getting married. She felt wretched afterwards, because although she felt that this was the reasonable thing to do, emotionally she was still attached to the idea of celibacy, which she had come to realize was beyond her power. Although readers might believe, on the evidence thus far, that Mieko had held to her ideal of lifelong celibacy until she realized that it was unrealistic, her attitude towards marriage had from the beginning been more complicated than that. During her American days Mieko became increasingly aware of her divided self, of the coexistence within her of contradictory desires or impulses. Her attitude towards marriage was a good example of this. She seems to have been torn between her ideal of celibacy and her partially unconscious desire to marry long before her conscious abandonment of celibacy. In her shuki of  June , the day of her departure for her European trip, she wrote, “I discussed with Mama the question of whether or not I should wear an engagement ring the night before my departure. The more I think about this question honestly, the more I become aware of the unmistakable existence of two contradictory selves within me, answering with emphatic ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to this question  A Woman with Demons

respectively.” Other references to a ring in Mieko’s shuki of the summer of 45 suggest that the engagement ring was merely an expedient device not to attract too much unwelcome attention from young men during her trip. However, the “two contradictory selves” seems to refer to the self that had decided to remain celibate and the self that wanted to marry. Again in her shuki of  June  she wrote: “uestions, such as whether the path which I have chosen is anti-natural – a rebellion against Nature – and, if it is, what kind of punishment from Nature is awaiting me, continue to occur to me from time to time like a dark shadow ... This path may lead me to experience intense inner conflicts throughout my life.” Mieko met T., with whom she was to become engaged shortly after her return to Japan,46 in the United States, probably shortly after her arrival, and what we can surmise about their relationship in the United States also illustrates Mieko’s complex, self-contradictory attitude towards marriage. Mieko’s shuki of  January  contains the following rather surprising reference to her relationship with T.: “I had an uncanny feeling yesterday when I read Nobuko by Nakajō Yuriko because the novel reminds me too much of my relationship with T.” Two days later in her shuki of  January, Mieko returned to the subject, “Nobuko resembles my case so much that it creates an eerie feeling within me. I need not write a single letter about this matter.” In this autobiographical novel Sassa Nobuko accompanies her father to the United States. There she meets and marries a man older than herself called Tsukuda Ichirō, a graduate student studying comparative linProgress towards the Affirmation of Life


guistics. Miyamato Yuriko (Nakajō is her maiden name) treats their relationship up to the breakdown of their marriage. Where was the striking resemblance between Nobuko’s relationship with Tsukuda Ichirō and Mieko’s relationship with T.? Just as Miyamoto Yuriko met the man who was the model for Tsukuda shortly after her arrival in the United States when she was auditing courses at Columbia University, so Mieko probably met T. soon after her own arrival when she too was auditing courses at Columbia University. This guess is based on Mieko’s shuki of  June  in which she says, “I went to see the gymnastics of Niels Bukh in the evening and met him [kareshi in the original]. It is eight months [since then]. I remember those days.” The Japanese word kareshi often has the implication of “boyfriend” or “lover” and it seems likely that in using the expression Mieko was referring to T. In Nobuko the heroine falls in love with Tsukuda. There is no indication anywhere that Mieko fell in love with T. However, he is mentioned in her shuki of  August  where she enumerates the personal experiences that had taught her the power of sexual attraction. One of the experiences that made her realize that she was unwittingly attracted by men reads as follows: “l’agitation ridicule en présence de T. à New-York.” Mieko’s decision to abandon the ideal of celibacy was in a way humiliating for her. She had imagined herself to be capable of leading a heroic life, overcoming all obstacles to achieve a goal (as she wrote in her shuki of  November ), but this now appeared to have been an arrogant presumption.  A Woman with Demons

As for the power of sexuality that had undermined her ideal of celibacy, her initial attitude towards it was a kind of repulsion, but from the beginning she recognized the need to face it squarely: “I feel indignation against the beast which commits violence toward man. However, it has become impossible for me to just ignore the violence, pretending that it does not exist ... As a person studying natural science, I can no longer regard it merely as something dirty. We should consider it with detachment as a ‘natural phenomenon’” (shuki,  December ). The “beast” must be sexuality. The following remark in Mieko’s shuki of  December  must also have been born out of her confrontation with her own sexuality. “How can we restrain tears and indignation in the face of the human condition torn between flesh and spirit? We can never be satisfied with one of them alone. Yet, they are incompatible.” Two things helped Mieko to overcome this acute crisis from the summer of . One was her gradual acceptance that it was a period that had been essential for her growth.47 She came to feel that only by going through it could she awaken to the reality of herself and of others. As we can see from her shuki of  December , she came to feel that she should decide how to live “after looking at herself and human beings as they are as much as possible.” Mieko’s interest in the writings of Havelock Ellis, an important pioneer of sexology, reflected her growing desire to confront reality instead of evading it, even when it required courage to do so.48 The following quotation from her shuki of  January  shows that she eventually achieved a kind of reconciliation with her own incomProgress towards the Affirmation of Life


prehensible behaviour: “I am full of gratitude for the past six months in which ostensibly I had nothing but repeated failure and pain.” Another thing that helped Mieko to overcome the crisis was the eventual resurrection, yet again, of her aspiration to become a doctor and care for the sick. The process leading up to the decision was fairly complicated, however, reflecting the fact that Mieko harboured many contradictory impulses. The first sign appeared quite early. After reading a biography of Noguchi Hideyo (–), a Japanese doctor who had gained an international reputation through his microbiological research, Mieko felt that her decision to give up medicine had been a mistake and wrote in her shuki of  November : “I was ashamed of myself after reading a biography of Noguchi Hideyo. I should never give up medicine for that sort of trivial reason.” Whereas less than two weeks before the prevention of her own illness had been, at least on the surface, Mieko’s most important reason for withdrawing from premedical studies at Barnard College, now she wrote, “I should continue to study even if I should become ill. The biography of Noguchi has taught me that you can achieve not a little even through solitary studies. Since God has given me my brain, I should use it to the full for public good. I had a tendency to regard medicine as if it were just a hobby. The biggest cause of my mistake this time was presumption and arrogance on my part.”49 Despite such strong words, the path back to medicine was not straightforward. There were frequent oscillations. One reason for this was that 

A Woman with Demons

Mieko, as a person of many impulses who wanted to do many things, was not sure if medicine was really her calling. Outward stimuli such as the biography of Noguchi Hideyo, or her state of mind at a given moment, might make one of her impulses or desires prevail, but often only temporarily. For example, when she read the autobiography of a woman doctor, Dr Elizabeth Blackwell’s Pioneer Work for Women, she received from it “a stronger impression” than when she had read the biography of Noguchi Hideyo, but her resolve to study medicine did not necessarily become stronger. “In my case the question whether or not medicine can be regarded as an end in itself makes me hesitate, apart from the question of health,” Mieko wrote in her shuki of  November . When she was interviewed by the members of Tsuda Umeko scholarship committee, Mieko told them, “At any rate I think that to study medicine will benefit my thinking.”50 Her words seem to suggest that from the time the possibility of studying medicine in the United States emerged, Mieko had a vague suspicion that it might not be her real calling but merely what would help her to fulfil that calling. Thus in her shuki of  December , she wrote, “I feel very clearly now that I am a person who should write. I even feel that I may be thinking of studying medicine merely because of my usual urge to escape from my real calling.” It took several more years before the conviction that her real mission lay in writing became firm and nearly twenty years before Mieko really started to write. Nevertheless, in hindsight we can say that the instinct that her real mission was writing was correct. Why then did she mention Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


her “usual urge” to escape from her calling as a writer? Probably the most important reason was her belief that she did not necessarily have a talent for writing. Mieko could do so many things well, but in the area to which she was drawn by her irrepressible inner impulse more strongly than to anything else, she was aware that she “lacked an inborn facile talent.”51 She was aware that some of her friends were more talented than she as far as writing was concerned: “The close presence of friends like K and A has always oppressed me. I do not have the power of fantasy they have. Nor does my pen flow effortlessly and almost unconsciously as theirs do. This awareness has made me feel inferior.”52 The struggle between Mieko’s inner conviction that writing was her calling and her awareness that she lacked “an inborn facile talent” for it continued until she started writing her first book (apart from translations), What Makes Our Life Worth Living, in her mid-forties. As already mentioned, as late as  January  Mieko had announced to her father that she had decided to give up medicine. This was the same day that she received the regulations of Tokyo Women’s Medical College. On the surface she had been moving steadily towards the resumption of medical studies. The X -ray examination that she had on  December  cleared her of any suspicion of tuberculosis53 and showed that there was no serious health problem to prevent her from studying medicine. By this time Mieko had come to believe that she should undertake her medical studies in Japan for economic and other reasons, but she couldn’t bear


A Woman with Demons

the idea of leaving her father alone in the United States.54 When she discussed it with him, however, he encouraged her to return to Japan.55 She was worried about the possible age limit for admission to Tokyo Women’s Medical College and had asked her mother to send the regulations. When they arrived she wrote: “I have started to think with the regulations in my hands. I see that there is no problem for my age. If I take the entrance examination, I will be able to enter it. Then will I enter it? I feel that I am forced to face the reality which I have been evading” (shuki,  January ). At the moment when all obstacles in the way of medical studies had been cleared, Mieko apparently felt a sense of inner oppression. After thinking about the matter for several hours, she recorded in the same entry her belief that giving up medical study and returning to Japan to get married was a better decision. “This is what I should do. Something within me says so clearly.” By this time she was convinced that she had an “irrevocable” mission in life (her shuki of  January  and  January ) that she could not ignore with impunity. But it was no longer clear to her that medical study was the best way to realize her mission. Mieko had similar difficulty in making a decision at several important points in her life. Mieko’s shuki shows that she held to the decision announced to her father on  January  roughly for three weeks. In her shuki of  January , on her birthday, Mieko wrote, “I have become twenty-six. I feel as if I had lived for a century. However, I feel that I see light ahead at last.” This time, it seems, the decision to give up medicine did not derail Mieko’s sense of

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orientation. Two days later on  January, she attended a concert given by a Japanese xylophonist and wrote in her shuki, “I was impressed with the spiritual vigor of a man who aims at artistic perfection through a limited means.” Probably stimulated by his example, she pledged to herself to attempt her own literary projects, which included writing a novel or story based on materials provided by a Japanese friend and translation projects from English and classical Greek (shuki,  January ). Her chief concern around this time was how to spend the remaining six months in the United States as profitably as possible. The idea of getting an MA in classics (Greek) from Columbia University before going back to Japan, which she mentions in her shuki of  January , was obviously conceived as an answer to this question. Although the decision to give up medicine taken on  January did not lead to another crisis as before, she was in the midst of what she called “a period of radical physiological and psychological transition” (shuki,  January ), and her mood changed often. In her shuki of  January , she wrote, “I spent the whole day worrying about various things,” which indicates a change from the optimistic mood that had prevailed until the day before. The news that she had failed to gain admittance to the graduate program in classics at Columbia University was a considerable blow to her, coming as it did when her mood had become rather pessimistic, and we learn from her shuki of  January  that she “lamented and cried in disappointment.” This triggered a fit of “great anger” in her father, and “as was always the case in this kind of


A Woman with Demons

situation, there was an exchange of violent words without any regard to the question of their truthfulness” (shuki,  January ). Mieko’s father’s anger may have been a reflection of frustration arising from the fact that he could not understand his daughter. Until  January , the day before she announced her decision to give up medicine, she had appeared to be really determined to study medicine at Tokyo Women’s Medical College. She wrote in her shuki: “I was depressed all day long as the regulations and other details concerning Women’s Medical College had not arrived from Mama. I am at a loss what to do with my own single-mindedness.” Tamon, Mieko’s father, must have felt sorry for her and, as she recalled in the same entry, he suggested sending a telegram of inquiry to ease her anxiety. Mieko’s announcement the next day that she was giving up medicine must have been incomprehensible to him. Whatever the cause, her father’s anger aggravated her feeling that everything had gone wrong, as he was very important to her. The sense of near despair that seized her made her lament once again the event without which she would not have had any pain or suffering – Kazuhiko’s death. It is in her shuki of  January  that we find the most outspoken expression of these feelings: After all, it is because I could not marry early and normally like ordinary girls, that I have to experience so much useless suffering. It is a punishment for rebelling against Nature. However, why did I have to undergo his death? From the beginning I

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longed for nothing but living as a wife. I am stupefied at the wretched life which I have led for about ten years. I must have caused a lot of problems for people around me as well. Was that a waste of life and a sacrilege to life, I wonder? Father [i.e., God], Father! Do you torment me, trample upon my youth and health, and even make me mentally hysterical, without bothering to do anything for me? No, it is all my fault. However, was it wrong that I lamented the death of my lover? Was it wrong that I did not immediately marry somebody else? Is a girl who is capable of doing so a person who preserves her youth, and her physical and mental health? There is no alternative but to live with hope for a better future. Life is too painful, however. The sensation as if everything collapses which I had when I learned of his death – it is like my life itself. Why did he die? I wanted to live, pouring and pouring upon him my love which was welling in my heart and body! When Mieko wrote these words, she could not see any immediate escape from her seemingly hopeless situation. Within ten days, however, she found an exit. She achieved her escape by once again resurrecting the plan to study medicine, which she had abandoned twice, and entering the


A Woman with Demons

premedical program at Columbia University. This decision was effected by a subtle change in the inner landscape of her mind caused by an external stimulus rather than long deliberation. On  January , three days after their quarrel, Mieko made up with her father by offering an “apology.” According to her shuki of that date, she told Tamon that she planned to “stay until June [] as a special student at Barnard College.” Her plan was to take courses in Greek. She wrote in her shuki of  January : “I went to Barnard College in the morning. It seems that I can register as a student without any trouble. However, to study Greek appears to me only as a part-time job.” She could not feel much enthusiasm for the study of Greek as a special student. That evening her father brought her a letter from Mitani Takamasa, a widely respected teacher at the Number One Higher School and a man whom Mieko greatly respected.56 That letter, which I believe is the letter of  December  found among Mieko’s papers, was a reply to a letter that Mieko had written in early December when she was intent on studying medicine in Japan. Mitani said that he was glad to learn that Mieko had decided not to abandon medicine. At the time he wrote his letter, he had no knowledge of Mieko’s most recent decision to give up medicine. His casual words were received by Mieko as a special message to encourage her to stick to her decision to study medicine. It shifted the balance of various impulses within Mieko and worked as the final stroke in destroying the

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notion of giving up medicine. She announced to her father that she would return to Japan on the first available ship to start her medical studies. She did not return to Japan immediately, however, but instead enrolled in a premedical program at Columbia. When she realized on  January  that she could do so, she felt like dancing for joy. Her joy and elation at having resolved a serious crisis of decision making to her satisfaction continued for a few days, as we can see from her shuki of  January and  January . However, her complex and self-contradictory personality remained unchanged. She must have been aware of that herself, judging from her shuki of  February : “The elation of my soul has subsided, leaving behind only a sense of loneliness. Work and family – I cannot help feeling that I who need them both will go into bankruptcy sooner or later. However, I have no option but to live in accordance with my nature. Let me be absorbed in my study and not think about this.” Mieko registered in the premedical program at Columbia on  February  and started her actual studies the following day. It was from that time that everything began to go well for her. As we can see from her shuki of  February , she was soon filled with joy and a sense of rebirth: “The storm has ended. The clouds are torn and the blue sky spreads. We see sunshine after a long time. This morning as the sun shines upon me, I feel that the joy of living fills my entire body. Everything appears to be new. I feel as if I had just been born. I hardly had hope that I would ever be able to see the return of such a spring.”


A Woman with Demons

In October  Mieko had not been at all optimistic about her ability to succeed in scientific subjects, after studying them for three weeks at Barnard College (“The result of spending three weeks entirely devoted to natural science is that my self-confidence has evaporated. I only feel that I am less than zero. I will suffer from an inferiority complex if I am not careful”),57 but at the time she had been suffering the adverse effects, not only of a bad cold but also of the shock of the collapse of her ideal of celibacy and her understanding of herself and man. When she started her premedical studies at Columbia, she soon realized that she was extremely good at scientific subjects. She wrote in her shuki of  March , “My mark for the chemistry test which has been returned today was one hundred per cent. It has been the same week after week. I am deeply grateful that I have an aptitude for science also.” In her shuki of  April  she again touches upon her academic success: “My marks were all A . Mathematics and Physics were both one hundred, and German was ninety-five. I was the best student in class in all of these subjects.” Her premedical studies at Columbia were gratifying to her to the end. During her American days Mieko took an important step towards recovery from the trauma of Kazuhiko’s death and towards the discovery and acceptance of her true self. From  when Kazuhiko died until her arrival in the United States in the autumn of , Mieko’s life had been dominated by other-worldly religious values through her peculiar mystical experiences and through her religious life as a member of a non-church

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


Christian group. She had lost her sense of joy in life and her overall attitude had become rather negative. Partly with the passage of time, however, and partly because of her close contact with nature at Pendle Hill, the simple joy of living started to return to Mieko. Thus, her shuki of  January , the day she revisited Pendle Hill with her friend Uraguchi Masa: “In the spring [of ] at Pendle Hill both of us were intoxicated with ‘joie de vivre’ which seems to have burst out of our unconscious.” A few lines later, Mieko wrote that Pendle Hill “has shown us the power and inevitability of Nature’s law.” Mieko probably had in mind something like the healing power of time and the inevitable return of spring, or “joie de vivre.” Inevitably, as she moved from negation of life to affirmation, Mieko felt increasingly alienated from the kind of non-church Christianity that had exerted a life-negating influence on her. Although the main intellectual fruit of her stay at Pendle Hill College was a deeply Christian essay “The Attitude of Christian Faith,” she wrote several months later: “In comparison with what I was a year ago I may be deemed to have lost my [Christian] faith completely ... I feel daunted at the idea of returning to Japan where so-called ‘Christian fellowship’ is waiting for me. I can no longer take it seriously as before. In fact, that kind of thing is utterly unbearable.”58 This didn’t mean that she had ceased to be religious during her stay in America. In fact, she remained religious to the end of her life. The following quotation from her shuki of  April  towards the end of her time in America shows that for her God continued to have great importance: 

A Woman with Demons

If God did not exist, what a dreary, insipid farce everything would have been ... Only “God,” yes, only God can give our life “meaning.” What an astounding thing this is! It is even more astounding that you can believe this. You must be either an idiot or a madman. Or it could be an overwhelming, miraculous grace. A person like myself with an erratic mind and heart would have no choice but to die as a lunatic without this faith. Fortunately, instead of dying as a lunatic I am living, absorbed by the idea of taking care of invalids. What a pleasure and delight it is! However, this “God” was less and less God as defined by an established religious tradition. In her shuki of  March , we read “What then is God? I will be taught the answer in the process of lifelong learning.” Mieko had quite early started entertaining ideas that could not be contained within the framework of orthodox Christianity. Thus, she wrote: “In a sense God is a product of the human brain” (shuki,  August ), and “I have come to find Christianity nauseating” (shuki,  September ). This tendency became more conspicuous towards the end of her American days, and her religion became more personal and in a sense amorphous, without connection to generally accepted Christian dogmas. “God” to her was an immediate personal intuition that remained intact even when, as she said a few years later, Mieko’s reason told her that “atheism may be right.”59 She “grasped God directly, intuitively, and spontaneously through my heart.”60 Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


In this God, under whatever name He might be given – God, the universe, the cosmos – Mieko seems to have regained her confidence after overcoming the personal crisis that started in the summer of . Decades later, in her letter of  October  to N.,61 Mieko wrote, “I do not feel the cosmos as cruel.” Kazuhiko’s death had shattered her confidence in the cosmos, but by the end of her American days it had returned, to remain with her to the end of her life. Connected with this confidence was her growing affirmative feeling towards herself, which also became noticeable towards the end of her American stay. During this period Mieko came to have a deeper awareness than before that she was a tragic figure torn by serious inner contradictions. In her shuki of  March  she wrote, “The tragedy owing to your make-up may well be the most profound one – more profound than a tragedy caused by exterior circumstances.” Mieko must have written this with herself in mind. She was not an average person of few contradictions. This awareness was not entirely new. As early as  May  during her stay at Pendle Hill College, she characterized herself in her shuki thus: “I have been too timid in my thinking. Is it not clear from my experience since I arrived at Pendle Hill that I cannot be satisfied with all existing ideas and existing systems? I was born antinomious, I should re-examine everything to my heart’s content as befitting such a person ... I feel often that the time has come. I would like to think freely and express freely without being bound by narrow ‘learning’ or ‘Christianity.’”


A Woman with Demons

Earlier we saw that Mieko became a person with a strong sense of mission after Kazuhiko’s death. In her shuki of  May , we find an interesting characterization of that mission: “Gospel preaching is not my vocation. Neither is social work. Only to live fully in the way God intended me to seems to be my raison d’être. Since that seems to be the case, I want to live fully without ever raising the question of ‘What for?’” A bit later, on  July , she wrote, “Now I am filled with a desire ‘to be myself.’” Her shuki of  May  suggests that she gradually came to feel that to be herself was actually her principal mission in life. In her shuki of  April  written towards the end of her stay in America, Mieko wrote, “Whether it is a mere chance occurrence in the universe or according to a grand design of Somebody, the monstrous being that I am exists and lives to fulfil a small role. That is all. I derive an infinite sense of meaning in life, peace, and joy from it.” Her awareness that she was a kind of monster, which began while she was in America, remained with her more or less throughout her life, as we shall see. However, her sense of confidence in God or the universe that let her exist led her to affirm her existence as a “monstrous being.” Instead of trying to escape being a monster, she should courageously live as a monster, true to her make-up. Her struggle to do so was a central theme of her inner drama from then on. Mieko’s acceptance of herself was not naive self-affirmation, however. The fact that she had gone through a period of deep despair after Kazuhiko’s death coloured her attitude towards life even after she had once

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


again come to affirm life and herself. This was reflected in the fact that Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations became her favorite book during her time in America. In her shuki of  March , Mieko wrote, “I feel the greatest empathy towards Marcus Aurelius nowadays.” And elsewhere in the same entry: “What a tiny, trivial matter everything related to me is, for example! The brevity of the time between birth and death! When I received a pneumothorax treatment, I would lie down, with my eyes closed, thinking that this time would belong to the past sooner or later. Let me regard my fundamental tragedy of being born what my father calls a genial person as something which will come to an end after a while.” Those who are familiar with Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations will find an echo of it here, especially book , section , which is quoted in Mieko’s translation in her autobiography Wanderings in a section where she discusses her great indebtedness to “the book which I should call my ‘one book.’”62 Her affirmation of life, coming after its negation, was characterized by an unusual degree of detachment that set her apart from average people and made her difficult to understand. In her shuki of  March  we read, “After all, I have no choice but to talk to myself to the end of my life. When people are making a great fuss about various tangled matters of this tiny world, I, though also a member of the same world with many complications, am apt to escape from it suddenly into a place situated roughly halfway between heaven and earth, and look at this world objectively. To


A Woman with Demons

whom can I tell of the pity and the wry smile which come to me then?” Mieko gave the title “Hitorigoto” (“Monologue”) to a collection of reflections written nearly twenty years after her sojourn in America.63 Mieko’s self-affirmation, which became quite marked towards the end of her American stay, did not mean that she had solved the problem of meaning in life, either. It would be more accurate to say that Mieko’s conscious search for meaning in life just began in earnest around that time. In her shuki of  March , we find the following: “It is fortunate that man has a mind which searches for meaning in life. Even a meaning trumped up by himself is better than nothing.” The earnestness of her search can be seen in the following: Went out in the afternoon. In the midst of the dinner, my father’s treat as usual, I had the irresistible feeling of absurdity of such a thing and could hardly continue. It would be better not to be alive if we just eat and live like an animal. (Shuki,  March ) What is the meaning of life? I look at the ceiling, again enveloped by this vast question. I am too tired, mentally and physically, to think today. Only I repeat this question endlessly. (Shuki,  March )

Progress towards the Affirmation of Life


However, not long before she left America, after she had learned the complexity of life, man, and herself through her period of crisis, she had on the whole become more ready to accept human life as it is, without passing hasty judgment: “I would like to depict man’s life which cannot be grasped by a formula” (shuki,  February ). She also became more tolerant of her own character and complexity, which she herself did not always understand. “I have no choice but to live my life erratically just as I can,” reads her shuki of  March . This is an expression of the acceptance of herself and her life that characterized the last part of her American days. Mieko set out on her journey back to Japan with her father from Grand Central Station in New York on  June . She did not feel much parting emotion as she felt that she would probably come back before long (shuki,  June ). On the way they spent a day at the Grand Canyon. Mieko was speechless at the grandeur of the scenery, which indeed invoked a desire to learn “deep humility,” as her guide suggested (shuki,  June ). On  June she boarded S.S. Asama-maru and set sail for Japan. According to her autobiography, Mieko’s father came only as far as the west coast to see her off, but her shuki makes it clear that her father actually travelled to Japan with her. They arrived in Yokohama safely on  July . With that an important chapter of her life came to an end.


A Woman with Demons


A Medical Student in Japan, –

A BIG SISTER TO OTHER STUDENTS Between Mieko’s arrival in Yokohama on  July  and her departure for the family’s cottage in Karuizawa on  July , Mieko called upon Yoshioka Yayoi, the principal of Tokyo Women’s Medical College. According to Mieko’s shuki, Yoshioka gave her permission to attend any courses she liked from the second term beginning in October. It was several months later, however, on  June ,1 that Mieko started her formal studies at the medical college upon being admitted to its regular program. This delay demands an explanation. According to Mieko’s shuki of  March , she decided to leave for Japan “in June [] with Father” because she had

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learned through a letter from her mother that she would be admitted to Tokyo Women’s Medical College in September . Obviously her original intention was to commence her studies much earlier than June . What caused the delay? Probably the most plausible explanation is that shortly after her arrival in Japan the question of marriage arose and diverted Mieko’s attention from her studies. She had been expecting the issue to arise in Japan, judging from her shuki of  May : “This is the last day of class. I feel very sentimental. I have a feeling of oppression at the thought of what is waiting for me in Japan ... The biggest problem is the marriage question, and that it would entail, among other things, the destruction of my plan to study medicine. What an irony it is that even so it is better to get married and that I am going back to Japan partly to get married!” In the last chapter I mentioned a man called T. to whom Mieko was very likely engaged not long after her return to Japan. In fact, there is reason to believe that Mieko met T. roughly a month after her return. Mieko’s shuki of  August  contains the following: “Mama arrived from Tokyo the day before yesterday, bringing a letter from Mr T. He will arrive in Tokyo on the tenth. It has been decided that I will also return to Tokyo around that time. I pray only for divine guidance.” Mieko’s shuki of  August  makes it quite clear that to her this planned meeting with T. was an event of tremendous importance: “I will leave for Tokyo tomorrow. Every day my heart is filled with a desire to pray. I am too distracted to study much.”


A Woman with Demons

We do not know exactly what happened next. Mieko’s shuki of  November  contains a passage that seems to indicate an amicable annulment of her engagement to T. and in her shuki of  August  Mieko lists “the marriage talk with T.” among the “great mistakes” of her life. From this it seems more or less certain that Mieko had decided to marry T. and that they had become engaged. In her diary entry of  February , while she was still in America, Mieko wrote, “At present it is still painful for me to bid farewell to my past. However, the new light of the future is becoming brighter and brighter day by day.”2 This is immediately followed by the statement, “For nearly ten years I seem to have lived just to suffer”; so the past to which Mieko was bidding farewell must have been her past with Kazuhiko. The decision to marry T. seems to have been an outgrowth of the sense of rebirth or new beginning that Mieko had towards the end of her American days. However, she could not stick to her decision to marry T. Bidding farewell to her past with Kazuhiko proved to be a more formidable task than Mieko had foreseen. The realization that she could not honour her engagement with T. must have been a shock to Mieko, and it may have created enough confusion and distraction to prevent her from commencing her studies at the medical college as planned. A secondary reason why Mieko started at the medical college so much later than she had originally planned may have been the fact that she had to play the role of housewife in the absence of her mother, who seems to have accompanied her father when he returned to the United States to

A Medical Student in Japan


resume his work as the director of the Japan Institute in New York. Mieko may have been obliged to delay registering as a medical student until her mother was due to return to Japan.3 Mieko was twenty-seven years of age when she was admitted into the regular program of the Tokyo Women’s Medical College. That meant that she was several years older than most of her classmates. Her age and the fact that for some unknown reason she entered the regular program of the college not in April, at the beginning of the first term, but in the midst of it in June must have set her somewhat apart from her classmates from the beginning. As they came to know her better, they realized that she was indeed very special. On the occasion of a guest lecture by a visiting professor, the professor said something in English that only Mieko could understand, and her classmates came to see that her knowledge of European languages was far superior to their own.4 But this difference did not mean that she was isolated from her classmates, with some of whom she had various interests in common. One such interest was music, and she became acquainted with a musically talented student called G. Mieko was reminded of her own past when she had been a student at a girls’ school, according to her shuki of  June and  August , and that inclined her warmly towards G. Apart from playing the piano together at various college events, Mieko gave her private French lessons for some time. G. was one of a few among her younger friends who made her wonder whether, lacking their “lightness of touch,” she was deficient in artistic talent (shuki,  June ). G. belonged to a  A Woman with Demons

family that was famous for producing artistically talented people.5 Mieko urged her to be an artist.6 Mieko’s kindness to G. must have been fairly conspicuous, and another classmate questioned whether it was worthwhile for Mieko to help G. Mieko admitted in her diary entry of  July  that she and G. were quite different in some ways. G. was indifferent to religion; she loved Chopin and Liszt and did not appreciate Bach and Handel. However, Mieko concluded: Even if G. can only become a little Chopin or a little Liszt, I will try to help her and I will not regret it. For I also love art and I also cannot help but be filled with a Hellenic spirit to foster every goodness in a human being. I would not by any means become purely Hebraic. My model is Mother Earth and Father Sun who nurture everything.7 Tokyo Women’s Medical College had a curriculum that aimed exclusively at professional training for future doctors. However, as the example of G. shows, there were some students whose interests were not completely confined to their medical studies. Akashi Miyo, who soon became one of Mieko’s best friends, was very strongly interested in literature. In her diary entry of  January , Akashi Miyo wrote about her dream of the night before in which the two halves of her brain, one standing for her interest in literature and the other for her interest in medicine, argued with each other and finally parted.8 She saw herself as someone who combined two A Medical Student in Japan


brains that should have belonged to two different people, as she wrote in her diary entry of the next day.9 Mieko had similar contradictions within her character. Having read Akashi’s writings, Mieko recognized that she had “an authentic literary talent” (shuki,  April ). She also admired the purity of Akashi’s character (shuki,  July ). As for Akashi, after visiting Mieko at her house for the first time, she wrote in her diary on  July , “I have learned that she [Mieko] writes fiction. She knows everything very well and gladly enlightens me about anything I ask. She is a person who is like a teacher, a mother, and an elder sister.”10 Their friendship was obviously based on mutual high regard. LITER A RY I MPU LSES A N D MEDICA L STU DIES Mieko was prevented from wholeheartedly concentrating on her medical studies by her strong literary impulses. During her student days at Tokyo Women’s Medical College, it was her experience that a strong urge to write invariably descended just when she had to prepare for examinations. As she noted in her shuki of  November , “Though examinations are imminent, I was tormented by an intolerably painful desire to write both yesterday and today. Finally I abandoned myself to writing from :

P.M . to : A .M . last night ... If I do not acquire the art of living (Lebenskunst), my life will be torn between the two. May God help me!” Again, in her shuki of  November: “I seem to be out of tune these days. My mind seems to be entirely oriented towards literature. If I do not do something, I  A Woman with Demons

will fail in my medical studies.” Sometimes she had a suspicion that “writing and the writing impulse may be nothing but a senseless obsession and a waste of time for me. It may be a disease.”11 However, moments of doubt were exceptional. “Ich muss schreiben [I must write],” she said in her shuki of  August . Such affirmations of the importance of writing were repeated often during her days as a medical student. She seems to have come to recognize both medicine and writing as her calling. She wrote: “I am alone at home. I am filled with joyful thoughts and strong resolutions. It appears that with my thirtieth year I am entering an entirely new world. I have found a two-lane road which I should follow. The focus of my life should be changed completely from that in my twenties. I should build up step by step from the very foundation. I should use my limited energy wisely.”12 What did she mean by “strong resolutions”? “To create out of myself, create incessantly what is new and true, rejecting everything which was merely borrowed.”13 R E A C T I O N A G A I N S T T H E T E N “A B N O R M A L” Y E A R S Mieko around that time was approaching the end of the process that had started while she was in America. This change may be characterized in various ways, for example, as a shift from a life-denying attitude to a lifeaffirming attitude. It was probably in  that she became fully aware of the change that had taken place within her. On  August she wrote, “Arranging my books and my writings today, I was surprised to note A Medical Student in Japan


once again what a great difference there is between how I evaluate various things today and my evaluation of the same things of four or five years ago.”14 According to the traditional method of reckoning age in Japan, by which a person is counted as one year old on the day of birth, after which a year is added to one’s age each New Year’s Day, Mieko was twenty-nine on the brink of her thirties. In her diary entry of  November , we find the following evaluation of her twenties: “I have found my path to follow on the threshold of my thirtieth year at last. I almost feel like saying that my twenties were all wasted. That would be unjust. However, there were not a few things which were wrong with my twenties. Among them are () that I let western culture occupy an excessively large part of my personal culture, and, () that I allowed Christianity to hamper too much the free exercise of my intellect and senses ... I would like to sing in my own voice my songs of God and human life!”15 As for the second point, Mieko was not yet so critical of Christian teaching in itself,16 but she had become very critical of non-church Christians, especially people belonging to the group led by her uncle Kanazawa Tsuneo with which she had been associated. Her critical attitude to the group was not based on theological differences but on an emotional antipathy. They were not on the whole the kind of people she liked. “Among the non-church Christians, there are too many instances of perverse, inhumane attitude, such as justifying everything by a complicated argument and not accepting happiness simply as happiness,” wrote Mieko in

 A Woman with Demons

her shuki of  April . Religion can have both good and bad effects on people. To Mieko non-church Christians often seemed to illustrate the bad effects a religious faith could have on people. “It is sad but true that religion makes you grotesque,” wrote Mieko (shuki,  October ) of a particular non-church Christian. On  September  she wrote to her uncle to inform him of her decision to stop attending the Christian meetings he presided over. In taking this decision, Mieko was not without a sense of nostalgia for the past: “It is painful to cut off ties with my own past step by step. However, this may be a common occurrence in human life. It doesn’t matter really, since God is with me always” (shuki,  September ). In his reply, her uncle apparently tried to dissuade her from leaving his non-church Christian group. But Mieko persisted in her decision and sent a second letter to her uncle to that effect (shuki,  October ). Although Mieko was still a Christian in the broad sense of the term and remained very religious, the following two waka poems (paraphrased in English), which she wrote on or around  December , were about her past and no longer applied to her, as her use of the word “once” shows: I once tried to serve God single-mindedly following the footsteps of saintly women of the past. Looking forward exclusively to the other world, I once tried to live my remaining days purely and like a shadow.

A Medical Student in Japan


That was the period when “death and sickness” were her element. Now she cherished “time blessed with health” as if it were her “own eyes,” as she put it in her diary on  September .17 Her attention had turned towards life. This was probably related to her renewed interest in the cultural tradition of Japan. Around  or  Mieko became aware of a kind of renaissance occurring in her life. After stating in her diary ( November ) that she could no longer feel much interest in books, such as the one her uncle had sent her, about exemplary Christian faith or Christian life, she wrote: Christian faith is apt to find solutions to problems too facilely and superficially. This, however, is not the fault of Christianity but a reflection of the shallow-mindedness of people who receive it, I think. I am attracted only by a way of living which confronts the essence and reality of a matter headlong. As far as matters of taste are concerned, as an Oriental and a Japanese I increasingly long for something simply and quietly beautiful (yūgen). I have absorbed enough of what Christian culture can offer, but it does not satisfy me completely. I am now rediscovering myself and my home. I am returning to my home of my younger days after a long wandering. What a tremendous blessing it is to be permitted to return to myself as I am!  A Woman with Demons

I am allowed to return to my old self who loved Japanese literature, writing and dreaming. I am allowed to return to my old self who loved mathematics, who longed for single-minded pursuit of knowledge and who felt ineffable joy in overcoming difficulties. Do what God commands me to do there. The rest is no concern of mine. Ah, my renaissance!18 “My old self” was Mieko before the death of Kazuhiko – principally, it seems, while she was in the upper grades of Seijō Higher Girls’ School. In the section of her autobiography dealing with her days at the school, Mieko writes that “thanks to guidance given by excellent teachers, I became a great lover of Japanese and composition.”19 There is also a reference to an outstanding teacher of mathematics called Mr Mori, who “had me deeply interested in mathematics.”20 Her spell at Seijō Higher Girls’ School was probably the last time that life seemed relatively uncomplicated to Mieko. Then the simple joie de vivre she felt there deparated for a long time. The biggest cause for that was Kazuhiko’s death, but the nonchurch Christianity with which she became increasingly involved aggravated the problem. As Mieko later put it: “From the time I returned to Japan from Switzerland to my early adolescence, I was messed up in the world of a very loquacious religion.”21 She made numerous adverse comments on non-church Christianity and non-church Christians. However, A Medical Student in Japan


by  her pleasure in life had returned in large measure. In her diary entry of  July , she wrote, “I am filled to the brim with health and joie de vivre these days. How can I express my gratitude for this happiness? How can I express this happiness?”22 It is natural that Mieko came to identify herself with the happy earlier period rather than with the gloomy time that descended with Kazuhiko’s death. The “renaissance” in Mieko’s life lasted throughout her student days at Tokyo Women’s Medical College. “I am like a person who has stayed underground for ten years and has just come out,” she wrote in her diary on  March .23 On the following day, Mieko wrote a poem in Japanese that also contains the theme of renaissance: When I wake up, I hear Japanese bush warblers [uguisu] sing, and I sense warm life circulating within me. Ah, this spring is like the first spring for me. A long period of life as a nun has just ended, and I wake to a world filled with life, light, colour, sound, and smell.24 On  September , she wrote in her diary: “In respect of my sentiments, thoughts and expressions I have been stunted in my growth for a long, long time. However, I have a premonition coming from within me that from now on at last I will be able to recover my freedom and grow boldly, honestly, and unhampered.”25 The sense of life blossoming contin

A Woman with Demons

ued to astonish her. In her diary entry for  January  we read: “In the way I feel and also in the way I express myself in writing, what was frozen seems to have started thawing little by little. As Mr Nagayo Yoshirō once pointed out, it seems that I had to part with so-called ‘Christianity’ before I could make full use of my ability.”26 Still more exuberantly, she wrote on  March, “Life which wakes up, bubbles up and pours out from within me after being frozen and stunted for a long, long time! Where are you going to take me?”27 Throughout her student days at Tokyo Women’s Medical College, Mieko made a conscious effort to study Japanese literature and other subjects related to Japan despite the heavy demand of her medical studies. In April  she went to Enkakuji Temple in Kamakura to practise Zen meditation for a few days. The atmosphere of the Zen temple pleased her. “This calm, this pure sense of transience, and this ascetic life bring me back to my home,”28 reads her diary entry of  April . The effort to delve into Japanese culture was, in part, a reflection of her growing belief that writing was also one of her callings. In February  she made a resolution: “This year I must somehow get to know and appreciate Japan and the East better.”29 That Mieko was actually making an effort towards that goal could be seen, for example, from the following: “Recently I have read novels by Tayama Katai, such as ‘Futon’ [‘Bed-cloth’], ‘Inaka kyōshi’ [‘A Country Teacher’], ‘Aru sō no kiseki’ [‘A Certain Monk’s Miracle’], and ‘Obasan no imēji’ [‘Image of an Aunt’] and have reflected on the essence of a novel. The latter two have good contents. I have also been reading a A Medical Student in Japan


volume on the early Edo period in the People’s History of Japan series. I am full of yearning for the culture and tradition of my country these days. How regrettably belatedly this enthusiasm has come!”30 Writing became so important for her partly because it was a way to satisfy a deeply felt existential need, as she came to realize more and more clearly. In her diary Mieko quoted Shimazaki Tōson – “It is good to express your thoughts. It is good to express them without hesitation. Encouraged by my humble work of writing, I also have saved my body and my mind” – and added her own comment: “Such words as these make a strong impression on me. I have been painfully aware that my ‘salvation’ lies only here in the last ten years.”31 Even though Mieko had ostensibly opted for a medical career, she had a feeling that she could probably make her most unique contribution to the world through writing. She had a better than average aptitude for natural science and medicine and eventually graduated from Tokyo Women’s Medical College at the top of her class. But she never seemed to think that she could make a great contribution either as a medical researcher or as a practising doctor. Deep down an inner voice told her that literature was her real calling, whereas medicine could only be her profession. In her diary Mieko applied the word shōbai (trade or business) to the medical profession and the less vulgar shigoto (work or vocation) to literary work, adding, “This morning I once again felt at a loss to see how my medical profession and my literary vocation will be related to each other in future.”32 Even towards the end of her time at Tokyo Women’s Medical  A Woman with Demons

College, she wrote, “It is literature which was the field of my greatest strength from the beginning. It is high time that I stopped roving and went home.”33 She could not really solve the question of how to follow the two-lane road of medicine and literature before the end of her student days. Time is limited, and how much time she should allocate to each was a difficult practical problem. As she wrote in her shuki of  May , “Sadly, medicine and literature are battling over what little time I have.” T H E Q U E S T I O N O F S P E C I A L I Z A T I O N: F R O M L E P R O S Y T O P S YC H I A T R Y This was not the only major question she faced as a student. Another decision she had to make was what field to specialize in as a doctor or a medical researcher. As we have seen, Mieko’s initial aspiration to be a doctor sprang from a visit to a leprosarium. When the possibility of studying medicine opened for her in the United States, however, Mieko, partly because of her parents’ wishes, did not insist on specializing in leprosy but intended to specialize in preventive medicine with tuberculosis patients in mind.34 Mieko’s desire to work with lepers seems to have revived when the president of Tokyo Women’s Medical College asked the students on  May , “Aren’t there people among you who are willing to do research on leprosy?”35 This was followed two days later by a lecture on the leprosy bacillus.36 On  November  Mieko’s mother met T.’s close kin and A Medical Student in Japan


Mieko’s engagement to T. was ended amicably. Mieko wrote in her shuki that day: “I wondered about the outcome of today’s talk ... and prayed: ‘If I should be set free, O God, I will dedicate the rest of my life to leprosy.’ The result was favourable.” It seems that this was the moment when Mieko made up her mind to devote herself to leprosy patients. On  November , the day after she was “set free” from her engagement, she visited Ōta Masao, an authority on leprosy who was also a well-known writer under the pen name of Kinoshita Mokutarō, at his laboratory. In a letter of  November  that Mieko copied into her diary, she told him that “nothing would delight me more than to be permitted to do research at your laboratory in future. I would like to devote myself wholeheartedly to research on leprosy.”37 Later in the same month Mieko wrote, “I have reread Gendai no rai mondai [The Problem of Leprosy Today] by Professor Ōta and have once again decided firmly to devote my life to its research.”38 She added: “To my amazement, through divine guidance, my wish of eight years ago is about to be realized.”39 After this, Mieko appeared to be pursuing “the great objective called leprosy,”40 as she put it in a diary entry of  November . She visited Aiseien, a leprosarium in Okayama prefecture, in August . She attended an academic conference on leprosy held in Kusatsu in September . She also gave the impression at her medical college that she was determined to devote her life to leprosy patients. As she wrote in her diary: “People at my college are apparently concerned about my plan to 

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visit Aiseien. They suspect that I have the intention of spending my whole life in a place like that, and say, ‘What a shame!’ I hear. It reminds me of what people said when Schweitzer decided to go to Africa.”41 At this time, however, Mieko was no longer so firm in her plan to devote her life to leprosy patients. In her shuki of  December  there is a reference to “the vascillation of my feeling which occurred unexpectedly this year.” In the same shuki she wrote, “I am beginning to think of writing a kind of diary of my mind from this May.” This suggests that something important happened in May  that made Mieko’s “great objective called leprosy” less clear, creating an inner agitation. What happened, as we shall see, was her first encounter with psychiatry. Eventually Mieko chose not leprosy but psychiatry as her field and became a member of the Department of Psychiatry at Tokyo University Hospital upon graduation from medical college – this, despite her visit to Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium in August  and despite the verbal promise she apparently made during that visit to work at the leprosarium.42 Most writers have accepted Mieko’s own explanation for this change of direction, that “the greatest reason was the continued strong opposition from my late father.”43 However, Mieko’s explanation was given more than a quarter of a century after the event and cannot be assumed to be altogether reliable. In fact, more reliable primary source materials left by Mieko herself make it clear that her switch to psychiatry was largely voluntary and that her father’s opposition to working at a leprosarium played only a very minor part, if any at all, in causing the switch. A Medical Student in Japan


Her interest in psychiatry grew spontaneously. On  October , less than three months after her visit to the leprosarium, Mieko read Matière et Mémoire () by Henri Bergson. She writes in her shuki of  November  about the stimulus this book gave her: “When I read such a book, my interest in philosophy, psychology, cerebral physiology, and psychiatry is stimulated tremendously and I am at a loss what to do. Why do I want to do so many things and why am I so easily tempted away from my path?” Two days later, Mieko wrote in her shuki: “Although I am still dreaming of choosing leprosy as my field after graduation, I will go to the Department of Psychiatry [of the University of Tokyo, then called the Imperial University of Tokyo] during the coming winter to test where my destiny lies, just as I did this summer.” This clearly shows that as of  November  she was not at all irrevocably committed to leprosy as her future field. Subjectively she still had a desire to work for leprosy victims, but she was not sure if that was what she should do. From this point on, Mieko moved in the direction of psychiatry entirely of her own accord. On  November  she went to see Dr Shimazaki at the University of Tokyo with whom she had got acquainted in May of the same year to consult him about visiting the Department of Psychiatry at the university hospital. On this occasion, as we learn from her shuki of that date, she borrowed from him Bumke’s Geisteskrankheiten (Mental Illnesses), fourth edition,44 which greatly deepened her interest in the question of mental illness: “I have been absorbed by Bumke’s book so completely every day that I can hardly remember what else I did,”45 we read in her diary entry of  A Woman with Demons

 November . Less than three weeks later, on  December , she was already toying with the idea of writing a graduation thesis on a topic related to psychiatry. In the diary entry for that day, after listing some possible thesis topics, Mieko concluded, “At any rate, these are some of the things which I should study in future. So far I have been too ignorant of, and too indifferent to, this solemn fact called mental illness.”46 Early in December Mieko had her first study visit at the University of Tokyo’s Department of Psychiatry. In the morning she had a chance to observe a clinic in which a patient suffering from hysteria and another suffering from schizophrenia were examined. In the afternoon she had a chance to talk with a schizophrenic girl who had just been hospitalized. She was impressed that the symptoms shown by the two schizophrenic patients, such as incomprehensible displays of emotion, corresponded exactly to the description of schizophrenia in Bumke’s book. What Mieko saw on that day must have made a strong impression. Her diary entry reads, “I have been made to feel a need to incorporate the phenomenon of mental illness into my conception of life – not as a Fremdkörper [alien object] but as an element which has an organic relationship with the rest. In order to do that, my conception of life as a whole will have to undergo some shuffling, for so far I have been thinking about life hardly taking mental illness into consideration.”47 A few days later Mieko visited Matsuzawa Hospital, a major mental hospital in Tokyo. What she saw there – “catatonic patients who gathered in a room immovable and silent like Bodhidharma in meditation, a A Medical Student in Japan


severely mentally handicapped boy trying to lead me somewhere by the hand, a group of insane people squatting like beasts in the courtyard, and mad women following us and demanding presents from us in shrill, strange voices”48 – made an indelible impression on her. With this visit she took another step towards psychiatry and away from leprosy. That day she wrote in her diary: “I felt that the burden of people who work here [at Matsuzawa Hospital] can be heavier, certainly not lighter, than that of people who work at a leprosarium. Besides, no matter how hard they work for the patients, they receive no words of gratitude for their labour ... I am attracted by the work for mental patients in that it receives no gratitude and relatively little praise.”49 She reiterated this point in her diary two days later: “As my parents say, I may be a person who gets interested in too many things and who changes her interest too often. However, psychiatry attracts me as a field which is academically much more interesting than leprosy and which is at the same time relatively free from receiving much social acclamation, and which is an unobtrusive, hidden field, absolutely free from any danger of being made much of by the patients.”50 Mieko was sometimes bothered by the fact that many people had an idealized image of her that she thought was quite different from her reality. When she received letters from two female friends containing just such a picture of herself, she wrote in her diary, “They praise me as if I were an angel sent by God. And they mean what they say. I can only lay bare my impure, excessively complex, perverted self before God and pray that He protect me from the sin of deceiving people.”51 She felt that because of her 

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vanity she had a tendency “to try to make me look better than I really am before the eyes of people.”52 In her shuki of  July , she wrote, “Ich kann nicht sterben bis ich meine Eitelkeit vernichtet habe [I cannot die until I have destroyed my vanity].” Working at a leprosarium was exactly the kind of action that would correspond to the view of Mieko held by her many admirers. On  December  Mieko received letters from two of these admirers. She wrote in her shuki of that date: “Both of the letters were, as usual, written in a tone which idolized me, and I was really dismayed to think that I must be a real actor to have led them to idolize me thus ... If I should go to work at a leprosarium, how much more strongly will they worship me! This idea scares me.” At that time there was no really effective drug in Japan to combat leprosy and the disease was much dreaded. For that very reason, people who devoted their lives to leprosy victims sometimes became objects of great public admiration. Ogawa Masako (–), who studied at Tokyo Women’s Medical College roughly fifteen years before Mieko and who worked as a doctor at the very same leprosarium that Mieko visited in , was one of the people who attracted public attention. Mieko noted her death with considerable emotion in her diary entry.53 She must have read Ogawa’s Kojima no haru (The Spring of a Little Island) which described in prose scattered with the author’s poems her journeys to disseminate information about leprosy and to persuade victims of leprosy to enter leprosariums. Initially Ogawa printed three hundred copies of this book at her own expense, but soon it became a great bestseller, with , copies sold.54 A Medical Student in Japan


Many years later, in , Mieko wrote, “Love has a tragic aspect that as soon as a loving person becomes aware of it, it ceases to be love. Love takes the form of devoted action in its active form, and that of a tolerant attitude in its less active form, they say. In either case, when a person becomes conscious of his devoting self or his tolerant self, he cannot help noticing that his love already has a lot of impure elements.”55 But even as a student, as we have seen, Mieko was aware of the problematic nature of a labour of love that attracts too much attention and admiration, and that could lead to narcissism and the corruption of the work. By the middle of February  it was obvious to Mieko herself that psychiatry was what she should choose, although a kind of sentimentalism still prevented her from making a final decision. She wrote in her diary: In short, I am more attracted by psychiatry than by leprosy academically and also for the type of work it requires. Psychiatry will allow me to pursue my psychological interest, which budded in my girls’ school days, properly for the first time. As practical work it entails no danger of being idolized as in the case of leprosy. Then why do I still hesitate to choose psychiatry? It is probably because of my old sentimental dream of leaving this society. It may also reflect my desire to forsake as many things as possible to devote myself to a life of service. I am scared that the choice of psychiatry would bring too many favourable conditions to me. That I could satisfy my intellectual desire of 

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studying the human mind to my heart’s content sounds too good to be true, and makes me feel somehow guilty.56 However, less than two weeks later she made up her mind to choose psychiatry rather than leprosy. On  February , she went to see Uchimura Yūshi, the head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Tokyo. Uchimura Yūshi was the son of Uchimura Kanzō, the founder of the non-church Christian movement in Japan, and Mieko had become acquainted with him during her days in Geneva. During their meeting it was agreed that Mieko would become a member of the Department of Psychiatry at the Tokyo University Hospital upon graduation in the autumn of that year. She wrote in her diary that day: “I am stupefied by the thought that my fate has been decided and I cannot do anything. Alas, with my choice of psychiatry I am bound to this world. On the other hand, I feel supremely happy that I have been given a post which will likely enable me to use all of my abilities freely to the full, and visions of my future work bubble up endlessly.”57 It is obvious that her decision to choose psychiatry was voluntary and made with joyful excitement and anticipation. Several other circumstances contributed to her change of direction towards the end of her student days at Tokyo Women’s Medical College. One was her friendship with a somewhat younger woman, Y., about whom she writes in an essay titled “Kokoro ni nokoru hitobito” (“Unforgettable People”).58 A close relative of Y.’s had introduced her to Mieko A Medical Student in Japan


in the hope that Mieko might give Y. some guidance. That was before Mieko went to the United States. At the time she had little knowledge of mental illness, and because Y. usually looked quite normal, it was a long time before she realized that Y. was mentally ill. Nevertheless, there were certain things about Y. that were quite strange or incomprehensible, including the fact that Y., who came to see Mieko regularly, would then disappear for months at a time. Mieko’s friendship with Y. continued after her return from the United States. On  May  Y. introduced Mieko to Shimazaki Toshiki, then head of the Department of Psychiatry medical office, at a concert. There Mieko learned that Y.’s occasional disappearances were caused by her hospitalization at Tokyo University Hospital and that Dr Shimazaki had always been in charge of her when she was hospitalized. The day after the concert, Mieko wrote to Dr Shimazaki asking for information about Y. She also went to see Dr Shimazaki to ask various questions about Y. in person. Mieko’s “Unforgettable People” describes the interview and its aftermath in the following way: When I posed to Dr Shimazaki many questions concerning Y. which had accumulated in my mind over the years, he asked me quietly, “Have you studied psychiatry?” “No, I have not yet had a chance to attend a course in psychiatry at my college. Would I understand Y. better if I read books on psychiatry?”


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“Read this book first.” Dr Shimazaki very generously lent me works by Bumke, Kretschmer, Jaspers and so on. On reading them I felt almost overwhelmed by the vista of unsuspected depth of human mind which suddenly opened before me ... What a shame that I had remained ignorant of such an important world despite the fact that my greatest concern since my girls’ school days was to understand the human mind! Thus it was that I who had been intending to work for leprosy patients suddenly changed my direction and chose psychiatry.59 Mieko’s chance meeting with Dr Shimazaki on  May  at the concert thus proved decisive in leading her to psychiatry. Some time after she had made her decision, Mieko wrote in her diary on  April : “Cucumber trees [kobushi or Magnolia Kobus] are in full bloom everywhere. It is already nearly a year since that evening in May. How strange it is that I am now about to take my first step towards psychiatry” (Works, Supplementary volume , ). It is certain that “that evening in May” was the evening of the concert when she met Dr Shimazaki for the first time. Dr Shimazaki was the great-nephew of Shimazaki Tōson (–), one of the major writers of modern Japan, whom Mieko admired more than any other modern Japanese poet or writer with the possible exception of Miyazawa Kenji (–). A person who knew Shimazaki Tōson

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well later explained to Mieko that Dr Shimazaki was “exactly like Shimazaki Tōson both in his appearance and his personality. He would also have become his literary successor but for a slight change in the direction of his nerves.”60 Initially Dr Shimazaki was a specialist in psychiatry from whom Mieko could get advice concerning her own future or concerning the psychiatric problems of her friends like Y. Soon a friendship developed between them. One thing that Mieko and Shimazaki Toshiki had in common was their awareness of an inner division within their characters. Shimazaki told her that Shimazaki Tōson was a Sonderling (eccentric) and that almost all his children were psychopaths.61 Shimazaki Toshiki was probably aware that he was an eccentric and that he was not far from being a psychopath himself. Mieko remarked in the following year, “To marry me is, I feel, the same as marrying a psychopath” (shuki,  March ), which suggests that she had a similar sense of herself. “Mr Shimazaki and I are both aware of the make-up of our own character and the danger inherent in it. We both know the pain, hardship, and sorrow which our incessant efforts to control ourselves entail. That is why we have been able to enjoy a beautiful relationship so far,”62 reads Mieko’s diary of  February . Mieko’s decision to specialize in psychiatry was facilitated by the fact that she often went to the Department of Psychiatry at Tokyo University Hospital on behalf of friends and acquaintances who were in need, includ-

 A Woman with Demons

ing people suffering from mental illness. “Although my initial idea was to leave the decision pending until the spring vacation, the fact that there are so many insane people around me on whose behalf I have to come to the Department of Psychiatry constantly forces me to think about this question. Now it seems that circumstances beyond my control will leave me no option but to choose this path,” wrote Mieko in her shuki of  February , a week before she finally made up her mind. R E V I VA L O F T H E D R E A M O F L I F E L O N G C E L I B A C Y Mieko lived in an age when most daughters of respectable families in Japan got married and became housewives. As we saw earlier, Mieko at one time wanted to remain single to the end of her life to be loyal to the memory of Kazuhiko. This dream was shattered, and she returned to Japan partly to get married. Her engagement with T. had to be annulled, however, and this engagement remained in Mieko’s mind as one of the greatest blunders she had committed (shuki,  August ). It is interesting that her attitude towards marriage was still fraught with contradictions while she was studying medicine. On the one hand there was a revival of the ideal of lifelong celibacy – probably due to the influence of Miyazawa Kenji, a poet whose own celibacy Mieko admired. After visiting Kazuhiko’s parents on  January , the ninth anniversary of

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his death, she wrote in her shuki: “On the way back, looking at the setting sun from the train window, I thought that I would like to remain single to the end of my life to work for leprosy and do research. I think that it is the most natural path for me.” In her shuki of  May  she wrote (in English), “It seems I am becoming reconciled again to the idea of lifelong celibacy, not as something forced on me but as something chosen and accepted.” She then compared the two options of marriage and celibacy and suggested that celibacy was perhaps better for her, as the following quotation (again written in English) shows: If married, my powers will be spent in the most natural ways; if not, they will be “sublimated” (not that I mean thereby any disparagement of the usual womanhood and motherhood) and be used in the cause of learning, education and service. Of course the natural ways are safer, surer and essentially easier. The second way is more hazardous, requires more spiritual energy. But then, considering the “abnormal” “monstrous” elements in my nature, who knows if it is not better to use those elements that way, rather than stifle them in a usual married life? In her shuki of  September  Mieko tried to combat the argument that a celibate life was “unnatural”: “Whether something is ‘unnatural’ or


A Woman with Demons

not depends on your viewpoint. Is it ‘natural’ to disguise and distort your true feeling and enter a life which is biologically easier? It depends on your conception of what is ‘natural.’ To me it is evident that you must take into consideration also the spiritual side of man to claim any validity. All you have to do is to find an outlet for your sexual impulse (netsujō), control it and use it. It is that simple.” When Mieko defended the idea of celibacy, she was often thinking about Kazuhiko. The connection between the revived ideal of lifelong celibacy and the memory of Kazuhiko is unmistakable in this poem from Mieko’s shuki of  June : I would love a path Which I can follow quietly quietly Thinking of you. I would love a path where, When I am tired of this world, When I am tired of myself, I can take softly my pulverized heart And my pulverized body, As they are, without patching them up. You who have been living In a translucent world from that day!

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I cannot walk without you Even today, just as on that day, today after the passage of ten years.63 “You” in this poem refers, of course, to Kazuhiko. After confessing the failure of all the attempts to walk “without you,” the poem ends with a prayer to God to give her a path that she can walk “quietly, quietly, thinking of you.” However, while she repeatedly avowed her attachment to the idea of lifelong celibacy, Mieko’s attitude towards concrete marriage proposals or suggestions was far less negative than we might expect. Something prevented her from making the final irrevocable decision in favour of the celibate life. This reminds us of her attitude towards leprosy. For a long time she expressed her desire to work for leprosy patients, but she always stopped short of a final commitment. A few days before her visit to the Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium, when most of the people around her had come to believe that she would become a doctor for leprosy patients, Mieko wrote in her shuki of  August , “I hope that they do not take me prematurely as a future doctor of leprosy. For it will come to nothing, unless God permits. ‘God’ in this context includes the make-up of the person I am, the circumstances surrounding me, and the totality of my destiny.” What made her appear irresolute was her complex and multifaceted personality.


A Woman with Demons

While studying at Tokyo Women’s Medical College Mieko made considerable progress in her self-understanding. The weakening hold of Christianity probably helped her to see herself as she really was. Her reading of psychiatric and psychological books beginning in  also gave her clues for understanding her own idiosyncrasies. The following quotation from her diary, written while she was reading Ernst Kretschmer (– ), shows a new gain in her self-understanding: Luther, Schweitzer, Uchimura Kanzō, Nightingale, and also Bach – all spiritual giants were people who had, as human beings, strong biological instincts of every kind ... It took a long time before I realized that I, too, am a person who has strong instincts of every kind. It is only quite recently that I have come to be able to face this fact without blinking. However, I will no longer call these various conflicting instincts sins. An instinct is not a sin. A sin means not to place human instincts under a correct guiding principle.64 Her use of the word “instinct” (honnō) was apparently very broad. She felt that her pursuit of knowledge, her love of music, her desire to serve people were all instinctively propelled by inner impulses. These instincts naturally included the sexual instinct and there are quite a few places in her published and unpublished writings that suggest that her own sexual

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instinct was strong. That was likely the reason why she was so interested in the question of sublimation. The poet Miyazawa Kenji, whom Mieko discovered in  while attending medical college, attracted her not only because of his poetry and his dedication to improving the life of peasants in northern Japan but also because of what she saw as his successful sublimation of his own sexual instinct. She believed that it had enabled him to remain single to the end of his life and use all his energy for his mission. Thus she wrote in her diary: I see in his [Miyazawa Kenji’s] attitude and words spoken after he had walked around in the pasture all night to overcome his sexual desire [Geschlechtstrieb] a clear-sighted conviction and a solution of the problem based on it. He read widely and thought deeply about the question of sexual desire also, I hear. He tackled this problem without any evasion and decided what to do with it, and he managed to use all his power to fulfil his mission without suffering from any perversion as a human being. I wish I could follow the same path as he did.65 An earlier diary entry also reflects Mieko’s growing self-understanding: Your fate was decided ten years ago – no, in a more fundamental sense, at the very moment when your parents’ chromosomes were

 A Woman with Demons

placed in a new life that was you. Insatiable desire for knowledge placed in an excessively feminine body and sentiment (Gemüt), violent fiery passion, and the heart which is only attracted by what is essential – What a “monster” you are as a woman. What a “monster” that you have to be continuously troubled by things, such as “a cosmic feeling,” “[inner] contradictions,” and “a sense of mission”! However, you must have learned from your bitter experience of two years ago; you must persevere in shouldering your own peculiar innate make-up – this fate of yours. You must remain faithful to the end to the path you are required to follow. You have no right to demand any other fate.66 The “bitter experience of two years ago” must be an allusion to Mieko’s engagement with T. That was an attempt on her part to live like an ordinary woman, but since she was a “monster” it was bound to be a failure. She had to be faithful to her fate as a “monster,” Mieko seemed to be telling herself. This combination of an “excessively feminine body and sentiment” and an “insatiable desire for knowledge” pointed to Mieko’s make-up, which according to the common notion and according to Mieko herself, was an anomaly. Mieko had not only many of what were generally regarded as feminine qualities but also many of what were generally regarded as mas-

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culine qualities. That was why she was a monster as a woman in her own understanding. Later, after graduating from Tokyo Women’s Medical College, Mieko wrote in her shuki of  March , “A monster that I am, a monstrosity made of a man and a woman (‘Androgynous’ according to my brother!).” However, inner contradictions were not simply the result of her being a woman with many so-called masculine qualities. Roughly six months later, Mieko explained her self-contradictory nature from a different angle and wrote as follows in her diary: I believe in God. However, I can also criticize my faith and doubt it. I am fond of learning. However, I know how limited it is. I study human science (Geisteswissenschaft). However, I can criticize and dismiss it from the viewpoint of natural science. I study natural science. However, I can laugh at its limitation from the point of view of human science. I am intoxicated by art. However, I can also regard my intoxicated heart as silly. What a heap of contradictions I am! As Pascal says, there is no salvation for such a person but in S’abêtir [becoming stupid].67 Just as during her American days, Mieko during her time at medical college was aware that she was a woman who attracted men. Among her reflections on love and marriage written in French in her shuki of  January , we find the following words: “Je sais que j’exerce une sorte


A Woman with Demons

de fascination sur certains hommes – hommes spirituels pour la plupart [I know that I exercise a kind of fascination over certain men – spiritual men for the most part].” However, she no longer believes that she should marry to avoid troubles with men. In her shuki of the same day, she expressed almost the opposite view: Si j’avais quelqu’un que j’aime et révère, je voudrais plutôt ne pas me marier avec lui, afin de préserver le beau lien intact au plan idéal et spirituel. Est-ce pathologique qu’un tel souhait? Je ne sais, mais je vois que je n’ai pas changé ces dix dernières années. [If I had someone whom I loved and revered, I would prefer not to marry him in order to preserve the beautiful relationship intact on the intellectual and spiritual level. Is such a wish pathological? I don’t know, but I see that I have not changed in the last ten years.] The new conclusion she drew from the same sense of being an attractive woman may have been due to her growing confidence that she could overcome the problems that celibacy entails through sublimation, as Miyazawa Kenji had done. As a medical student her contact with men had been relatively limited. However, the staff of the Department of Psychiatry at Tokyo University Hospital where she was to work from the autumn of  were virtually

A Medical Student in Japan


all males. As her first day at the Department of Psychiatry approached, Mieko had some misgivings about what might happen there. She wrote in French in her shuki of  August : “Mon amie A. m’a dit que quelquechose va surement arriver lorsque j’irai à l’Université. J’en ai aussi le pressentiment. Mon Dieu, ne me tentez pas. Gardez-moi des passions!” [My friend A. said to me that something would surely happen when I started my work at the University. I also have a premonition of that. My God, please do not tempt me. Save me from passions!] Mieko was aware that overcoming the problems of celibacy through sublimation would by no means be easy. In her shuki of the same date, she wrote, “What an important and, at the same time, difficult thing sublimation is! How dangerous it is to rely on it alone! ... However, the more abundant the stuff to sublimate is, the more wonderful the result will be when the sublimation succeeds. If I try to be as resourceful as Miyazawa Kenji, I should also succeed in it.” In the end, however, Mieko’s relationships with her young male colleagues at the Department of Psychiatry grew increasingly difficult. Mieko’s student days at Tokyo Women’s Medical College coincided with the period when Japan was engaged in war, first with China, from July , and later, from December , with the United States and the Allied powers. The war of course affected Mieko in various ways – not the least as threat to her life and the lives of her loved ones. In her diary


A Woman with Demons

of  April  after she had witnessed the first air raid on Tokyo by American bombers, she wrote, “I had better try to settle everything each day so that I may die any time without regret.”68 Two years later, during her final year at medical college, the situation had grown so much worse that Mieko thought that she might not see her father again in this world once he had returned to his post in Niigata on  February .69 However, Mieko was less disturbed than others by the threat of death. Thanks to Kazuhiko’s death, she had long since “come to live as if I were always looking at Death face to face.”70 Her past experiences, including the death of Kazuhiko and her own illness, had prepared her well for life in wartime Japan. The war only strengthened her determination to live in such a way as to be ready to die. That death might come at any moment appears to have been a matter of little importance to her. Thus she wrote in her shuki of  October : “I would like to study and produce as much as possible to be ready for ‘the call’ [death] at any moment. How precious each moment is! I feel that ‘eternity’ is embodied in each moment. To live that ‘eternity’ to the best of my ability fills my life and my heart almost to bursting point.” This was probably the reason why there are surprisingly few references to the war in her published diary entries and shuki of this period.

A Medical Student in Japan


p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p


An Unmarried Female Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital, –

Mieko formally became a member of the medical staff of the Department of Psychiatry at Tokyo University Hospital on  October . When she started work as a young psychiatrist, she had no doubt that she had chosen the right path: “I have never imagined that there could be work which fits me so perfectly as my work here in the Department of Psychiatry. I cannot help feeling that it is precisely to do this work that I was born. How happy I am that I could find such work! Playing Bach on the piano for one hour, I shed tears of gratitude.”1 Psychiatric work was also a great help to her selfunderstanding. It made her realize that she was not a normal person from a psychiatric point of view and that for

that very reason she was suited to psychiatry. In her diary entry of  January , she listed symptoms of various mental illnesses she herself had experienced at one time or other. The list is quite long. Among the pathological symptoms, which she enumerated using German terms, sometimes with a short explanation, were “depression,” “depersonalization,” “sensations of being made to do things (Gemachterlebnisse),” “splitting of self,” “absence of feeling (Gefühlsleere),” “feeling of alienation,” “manic state,” “uncontrollable outflow of ideas (Ideenflucht),” “megalomania,” “euphoric sentiment,” “a state of complete isolation (Sperrung) – I become unable to have any relationship with other people and remain quietly in a separate world,” “talking to oneself,” and “fantastic and mystical experiences.” She also described herself as an “epileptoid.” She concluded by saying, “I am in many respects a person who is psychologically abnormal, and I realize now how by necessity and fate I was led to the study of psychiatry in the process of my self-exploration.”2 In her desire to understand herself better, Mieko read a number of books related to characterology. She began her reading shortly before joining the medical staff of the Department of Psychiatry. One of the books was Edward Spranger’s Lebensformen: Geisteswissenschaftliche Psychologie und Ethik der Persönlichkeit () which Mieko read in July . When she had finished it, she wrote, “I read this book, leaving aside everything else. While I read it, we were blessed with cool days. I was enveloped by

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


an ineffable sense of happiness, while I was absorbed in its reading, sitting alone on the verandah. ‘This is my paradise,’ I said to myself from time to time, and watched the blue glimmer of hydrangeas.”³ In Part  of Spranger’s book the author gives six basic ideal personality types – the theoretical person (der theoretische Mensch), the economic person (der ökonomische Mensch), the social person (der soziale Mensch), the aesthetic person (der ästhetische Mensch), the power person (der Machtmensch), and the religious person (der religiöse Mensch). These personality types are not mutually exclusive, but normally a person’s main characteristics come only from one type. Mieko apparently felt that she had the characteristics of all Spranger’s types with the exception of the “economic person” and the “power person.” She enumerated thus: natural scientific objectivity and desire for investigation (the theoretical person) artistic contemplation and sensuality (the aesthetic person) ethical rigorism and restraint (the social person) religious devotion and resignation (the religious person) How to live with all these impulses within me still remains my problem. From time to time I am absorbed in thinking about this problem, pressing my head which seems to be about to burst or explode into a thousand pieces.4

 A Woman with Demons

Mieko gave the names of the personality types, such as “the theoretical person,” in German, which makes it certain that she was using Spranger’s types. When Mieko had been an uncritical adherent of non-church Christianity, she had felt that everything should be subordinated to religious values. But as early as , there were signs of a growing autonomy of non-religious values and impulses. Hence the declaration in her shuki of  May , “I want to live fully without ever raising the question of ‘What for?’” As a young psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital, Mieko read Kierkegaard’s essay “The Difference between an Apostle and a Genius” in which he explained the difference in terms of the presence (apostle) or absence (genius) of a cause or purpose that he or she served. Mieko wrote in her shuki of  June : “I was once attracted by an apostle, but recently I am attracted by a genius. To put it more honestly, I used to feel that I am a person of the apostle type, but recently I have come to feel that I am a person of the genius type. This was a discovery of my true nature, though in a sense it was also my fall. However, a human being can only live in accordance with his true nature.” Mieko’s realization of her own affinity for the genius type, to whom the question of “What for?” is of no concern, rather than the apostle type crystallized around this time. In fact, she had considered herself a person of the genius type for some time. In June , thinking of certain non-

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


church Christians who believed that she always acted from altruistic motives, Mieko wrote: They do not know that I have not only altruistic impulses but also purely scientific or aesthetic impulses. Not only they but Christians in general do not permit or recognize such impulses. However, I will suffocate without them. I need pursuit of knowledge for the joy of acquiring knowledge itself and pursuit of beauty for the pleasure of beauty itself. Unless I am allowed to escape to these worlds from time to time and renew myself, by forgetting everything, I do not think that I can continue living. If I do research on something or write fiction, that will never be “for the sake of mankind.” I never want it that way.5 As the quotation suggests Mieko was increasingly reluctant to deny some aspects of her personality. This tendency was quite marked even before her graduation from Tokyo Women’s Medical College, as the following shows: I will be myself boldly. Feminine sentiments, masculine intellect, the timid side of me and my reckless, ambitious side – everything will be given full play as a component of my life. The me of the girls’ school days when I was active, overconfi-

 A Woman with Demons

dent, and possessed by the demon of intellectual curiosity, the me of the period of my illness when I was pietistic, timid, and other-worldly, the me of the medical college days when I was realistic, reckless, and, on the other hand, concerned with the question of literary expression – they are all me or various parts which make up me. I should stop worrying about their contradictions. I should stop trying to limit myself vainly to only one of them. It is because I have so many sides to my personality that I am incomprehensible both to others and to myself. Nothing is wrong even if I am incomprehensible, however.6 Despite the last sentence, Mieko really wanted to understand all her inner complexities and contradictions. While working as a psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital she could combine professional and personal reasons for reading books related to psychiatry, psychology, characterology, and so on, and her reading was directed to a large extent by her desire to understand herself. Particularly useful in her eyes was Hermann Hoffmann’s Das Problem der Characteraufbaus (). This book tries to demonstrate the importance of the genetic study of character, using, among other examples, Napoleon and his siblings, who, like Mieko, were born of parents with extremely different personalities, and Frederick the Great and some of his ancestors, who, again like Mieko, had extremely complex characters full of inner contradictions.

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


Not only was Hoffmann’s book a stimulus for Mieko’s self-analysis but it gave her hints about how to evaluate her own peculiar make-up. This book fascinated Mieko because, with “Characterantinomien” (characterantinomies) as one of its key concepts, it gave a lot of attention to questions that bore directly on her own contradictory character traits. In her diary of  November  Mieko wrote, “I finished reading Hoffmann this morning. According to him, persons who are, qualitatively and quantitatively, strongly antinomious in their character are liable to become mentally ill. At the same time, genial people are also found among them. Not only this point but numerous other points in the book made me feel that Hoffmann’s book comes closer to reality than any other book on characterology. Rarely have I read such a profitable book lately.”7 Hoffmann’s book probably reassured Mieko by showing that to be a strongly antinomious person is not necessarily a bad thing. It was the same kind of reassurance that she had received from a book by Charles Aime Alfred Blondel (probably Introduction à la psychologie collective), which maintains that the greater one’s awareness of deviating from collective concepts, the richer one’s inner life can be, though one might also be closer to insanity.8 Hoffmann’s book induced Mieko to formulate her inner contradictions in a somewhat new way. She wrote (in German) in her shuki of  November : My antinomies Self-assertion – Self-sacrifice  A Woman with Demons

Strong sense of self – Feeling of insufficiency Vanity – Timidity Impulse towards ethical action – Aesthetic intuition and enjoyment Religious union – Logical need, epistemic impulse Strong aversion or restraint and desire for “sublimation” – Life with strong sexual impulse In her diary of  November  Mieko sketches a thought “at which I have arrived over a long period of time in which I have been a problem to myself.”9 As this suggests, Mieko seems in a tentative way to have completed her long journey of self-discovery and self-affirmation while working as a psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital. The “thought” was her reflection on chaos and the power that controls chaos and creates out of it something with form. While Mieko did not claim originality for these thoughts, they were hers because of their intimate connection with her own life and problems. By chaos Mieko basically meant what is inside a human soul. Chaos is material. Her idea was that the combination of rich chaos and a strong formative power to control it leads to the creation of something admirable or valuable. If the chaos is not rich or if the formative power is weak, the end product is not good. She believed that the validity of this basic idea could be observed in many fields, including art, religion, and personality. Mieko wrote about the human personality or character: Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


As for hereditary make-up, the more complicated it is the better it is. When your make-up is complicated, it creates all sorts of possibilities out of which something interesting might be born. However, the two agents of education and environment which restrain, trim, and form it must contain enough of law in themselves. On top of that, there should be an ability for restraint, trimming, and formation within the character itself. Otherwise, the person will be a Bohemian, a schizoid, or perhaps even a real schizophrenic.10 The opening sentence of this quotation was an affirmation of Mieko’s peculiar make-up as her inner fate. Mieko was a person of tremendous inner vitality and richness, but she was at the same time more chaotic than others, in part precisely because of that vitality and richness. “I am chaos from the beginning. No wonder I have no aptitude for political matters, social matters, social functions, business matters, and mechanical matters. I lack ‘order’”11; “I am being made aware that I am a veritable savage who utterly lacks discipline”(shuki,  February ). Potentially, however, her complicated, rich make-up was excellent raw material out of which something valuable could be shaped. As a young psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital Mieko realized that she had the potential to make a valuable contribution to human culture. “A normal person, i.e., a person whose psyche is totally explicable as


A Woman with Demons

a social product,” cannot make a “new original contribution to culture,” Mieko reflected in her diary.12 Only “people whose make-up differs from the vast majority of people – geniuses or psychopaths,” have a psyche that contains something that is not totally explicable in social terms.13 Mieko, who was always keenly aware that she was different, obviously did not regard herself as “a person whose psyche is totally explicable as a social product.” She characterized herself as “a person who lives on the brink of chaos and who is always aware of a menace coming from the chaos.”14 More explicitly, “That sensation of ruin, as if I were torn into pieces by being pulled in all directions, still visits me frequently.”15 As we can see, Mieko was aware that she was never far from the danger of mental illness. Towards the end of this period, however, she came to conceive of her make-up as something positive in its rich potential for creative contribution to human culture, rather than as something negative for the mental illness it might be hiding. It was also during her days at Tokyo University Hospital that Mieko read Nietzsche. “What I have learned from Nietzsche – Amor fati,” she wrote in her shuki of  March . Mieko’s life up to that time had been affected not only by her innate make-up, or inner fate, but by what we might call an outer fate – something beyond her control coming from outside that decisively affected her life. Kazuhiko’s death certainly was the most important component of her outer fate. Her contracting tuberculosis, then the top killer of all diseases in Japan, may also be regarded

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


as another component of her outer fate. During this period she came to accept not only her inner fate but also her outer fate – at least theoretically. In this context, the following quotation taken from her diary of  November  is interesting: God who tolerates my ugly chaos because of its potentialities, please support me today and teach me how to create something beautiful out of it – this is my daily prayer ... I wonder how I am permitted to live in this world. I am really such a chaotic person. When the power of restraint and formation worked on my chaotic nature even to a slight extent in the past, it was always through so-called misfortunes, such as bereavement and illness. Every restriction on life is painful. However, if misfortunes enable an intensive growth, formation, and leap in a certain direction as a kind of compensation, they are also cause for gratitude.16 Kazuhiko’s death created in her a desire to work for leprosy patients and led to her medical study. Her tuberculosis created in her a desperate desire for study before her death and that led to her success in the qualifying examination for teachers of English at the advanced level as well as to her study of classical Greek. She needed formative power to create something valuable out of her rich but hard-to-control chaos. Mieko could now say


A Woman with Demons

“yes” to her seemingly cruel outer fate because she realized that the formative power she needed had come from it. As we have seen, the Department of Psychiatry at Tokyo University Hospital provided an environment favourable to Mieko’s ongoing journey of self-exploration and self-affirmation. It was not without problems as her workplace, however. For one thing, Professor V., who was in a position to guide and supervise her work, was not the sort of person who could really inspire her academically, though in many ways he was kind to her. Mieko wanted to approach psychiatric questions from the perspective of both the human sciences (Geisteswissenshaften) and the natural sciences. Professor V. apparently had little understanding of the former approach, as Mieko noted, for example, in her shuki of  January . Though reaffirming the importance of the study of psychiatry to deepen her view of life and man, Mieko expressed the misgiving that in a few years’ time she might have to abandon psychiatric research: That I am studying psychiatry is doing me incalculable good by deepening my view of life and man. However, that Professor V. is my supervisor will probably make me abandon psychiatry as my academic discipline eventually. His mediocre spirit is good enough to train me academically in a superficial way, but it does not have enough power to make me deeply immersed in my academic pursuit. On the contrary, he makes me feel disappoint-

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


ment at psychiatry as embodied by him and makes me feel rebellious. That is why I feel like running away. I will run away after persevering here for two or three years. Then I will write, write, write to death. For that purpose I will separate myself from everyone, including my family, by going to a mountain by myself, for example. This thought alone will sustain me in my present mode of daily existence. (Shuki,  March ) Another problem Mieko faced in the Department of Psychiatry was that she became the object of strong hostility and hatred for an envious colleague who was slightly senior to her. She herself seems to have felt antipathy towards him almost from the beginning. Even when she was flattered by him, she felt disgusted (see her shuki of  November ). Eventually, Mieko’s antipathy developed into “a feeling of uncontrollable fear and hatred.” She did not expect it. She wrote in her shuki of  May , “It was a great discovery for me that I could entertain such a feeling.” What eventually became a greater problem for Mieko than the hostility of a colleague was her idolization by young doctors and medical researchers in the Department of Psychiatry. Initially, Mieko was pleasantly surprised that many of them were not narrow-minded specialists but civilized and earnest people with whom she could discuss, for example, Greek culture and Christian faith. “I did not expect to find so many such people in


A Woman with Demons

the Department of Psychiatry,”17 Mieko wrote in her diary. Because they were not interested only in narrowly defined topics of medical research, they were probably particularly susceptible to the fascination exerted by the beautiful Mieko with her command of European languages, her knowledge of European literature and philosophy, and her profound religious experiences. Just as several people at Pendle Hill, such as F. and N., had been impressed by Mieko and tacitly looked to her for guidance, so the young men at the university hospital looked up to Mieko now. Mieko herself was aware of the similarity. “In the case of both Mr H. and him [Mr R.], isn’t their relationship with me an exact replica of my relationship with the young people at Pendle Hill?” wrote Mieko in her shuki of  July . In the same place, she described herself as “une lionne qui vit du sang des jeune gens naif et sincere [a lioness who lives on the blood of naive and sincere young men]” and said, “j’ai peur de moi-même, de mon pouvoir soi-disant magique, que j’exerce sur eux. Mon Dieu, pardonnezmoi [I am afraid of myself, of my so-called magic power which I exert over them. My God, please pardon me].” By October , when Mieko became a member of the medical staff at Tokyo University Hospital, the tide of war with the Allied powers had long since turned against Japan. Mieko’s diary entries of this period mention air raids on Tokyo with increasing frequency. On  December  she wrote: “At twelve o’clock midnight and at : A .M . there were big air raids, and there were large-scale fires in the area around Nihonbashi [a

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


part of downtown Tokyo]. Toshiko [her sister] left for Niigata [Mieko’s father was then the governor of Niigata prefecture] in the morning of the thirty-first (she could not get on a night train on the thirtieth because of the sudden increase of people fleeing from Tokyo). With this and that, I could not concentrate on my study.”18 Eventually, Mieko’s family house was destroyed during an air raid on the night of  May . At the end of June Mieko came to live in a room at Tokyo University Hospital. Thus, the deepening shadow of war surrounded Mieko and her young colleagues at the hospital. They did not know when they might be killed by an air raid. With the transportation of some of the medical books out of Tokyo to avoid destruction and the increasing general confusion, Tokyo University Hospital could no longer function properly as a centre for medical research. Young doctors became more communicative with Mieko, not primarily in their professional relationship but in a more personal way. Now that Mieko lived at the hospital, as some of her colleagues did as well, it was easier to talk with each other, and their conversations sometimes continued well into the night. Soon Mieko realized that one of her colleagues was in love with her, as she wrote under the date of  July : “Er liebt mich. Das war so deutlich heute. Was soll ich tun? Der Arme, er wird leiden. Ich kann nichts tun, um ihm zu helfen [He loves me. That was so clear today. What should I do? Poor thing, he will suffer. I can’t do anything to help him].” For love of Mieko this man eventually lost his self-control and caused some sort of commotion at work. While he was the only one to go that far, 

A Woman with Demons

Mieko was aware that she had other admirers among her colleagues. It was very likely this awareness that prompted her to write, “I am like a spider. I am afraid of myself who possess a strange charm and poison” (shuki,  August ). What bothered her particularly and prompted this remark was her usual pattern of behaviour towards her admirers. She tended to react negatively “with embarrassment and disgust” towards people who had been captivated by her charm and had become dependent on her while she had done everything in her power, she believed, to captivate them. Was she a vamp? She was to answer this question in the affirmative some months later. Disappointment with the world of academics and problems with her relationships at the Department of Psychiatry made Mieko feel once again “that I was a person who should be a writer more than anything else” (shuki,  June ). When she had tried to write in the past her pen did not move very smoothly, and that had pained her. In the same shuki she wrote: “I am well aware that I often tried to escape from writing to the world of learning because of this pain. However, this will not be permitted for long in future.” After some months’ experience as a psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital, Mieko had come to feel dissatisfied: “There is something I do not like about learning. I cannot stand dead systems. I am not favourably impressed with the university, either. I would like to go to the country and devote myself to writing, while working as a village doctor. The only disadvantage of such a life would be the difficulty of having access to books. I will try to read basic books as much as possible Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


now, and will really lead such a life in future. That would give me even greater freedom than work in a leprosarium.”19 Mieko was tackling the same issues as in her student days at Tokyo Women’s Medical College. One was the question of her real vocation and the place of literature in relation to it. Mieko as a young psychiatrist was often seized by the same uncontrollable urge to write that had descended during her student days. On  April  she called on a friend who, she had heard, was in critical condition due to an overdose of sleeping pills. Coming back from her friend’s house she read Thomas Mann on the train. In her shuki of that date, she wrote about how she felt, stimulated by her reading of Mann: “Reading Thomas Mann’s work ... I was seized by the desire to forget everything and write. I want to live irresponsibly following my inclination and just live to write. How much longer can I stand the restraints of a conventional life? I doubt that I am a person to be in academia. I desperately want to be a wanderer. I feel that I would suffocate unless I pour out everything in my heart in writing.” A few days later in her diary Mieko returned to the problem of choosing between art and learning. Now she was slowly moving towards literature as her real vocation: I fear that it is not permitted to pursue two goals at the same time. It has become increasingly clear over these years that the greatest desire and joy for me is “expression through form.”


A Woman with Demons

When I want to express what I have discovered through my brain, I inevitably turn to literature. What can I do about it? I cannot stand building up a system or creating something like a lifeless skeleton out of what I really want to say by citing this author and that author on the subject. Because I have chosen psychiatry which also deals with the “human soul” as literature, the conflict between art and learning in my mind has become very acute ... Is it not fitting for me to treat medicine as a mere way of practical service to people and devote myself wholeheartedly to literature?20 Circumstances did not yet allow Mieko to establish her primary identity as a writer. She did die as a writer, however, as I will explain in the chapter on her later years, and she resolved the conflict between literature and medicine along the lines suggested in the last part of the quotation, if we understand the word “literature” broadly. The war came to an end with Japan’s acceptance of the conditions of the Potsdam Declaration. This was announced to the Japanese through a recorded message by the Shōwa emperor broadcast on the radio at noon on  August . On that day the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Tokyo gathered in the Yasuda Auditorium to listen to the Imperial announcement. Mieko wrote about their reaction: “The whole audi-

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


torium was just filled with the sound of people sobbing.”21 She “was also stupefied for the whole day” and could only come to herself and start her work in the evening.22 The end of the war and the imminent occupation of Japan by the Allied powers, meant that Mieko, who had lived in the United States and had an excellent command of English, was likely to have an important role to play in the near future. In a letter dated  August  addressed to her family in Karuizawa, Mieko wrote, “Professor Uchimura has told me that from now on I have a great contribution to make with my proficient English, and I myself feel elated at the idea that the time has come to make good use of what I have acquired through my complicated life up to this time.”23 Soon she was in great demand as an interpreter and translator, not only at the University of Tokyo but also at the Ministry of Education, thanks to her father’s appointment as minister on  August . In September she started translating documents into English at the ministry on a part-time basis but with the increased demand for her work she took leave from Tokyo University Hospital during the month of October , and on  October she more or less made up her mind to continue her work at the ministry as long as her father was the minister of Education. In fact, because of the paucity of Japanese with a sufficient command of English, Mieko became indispensable at the Ministry of Education, both as a translator and an interpreter, and it was only with the resignation of Abe Yoshishige, her father’s successor as minister, in May  that Mieko


A Woman with Demons

could leave her work at the ministry. During this period of frantic activity, when both the Ministry of Education and the University of Tokyo made demands on her time, Mieko’s star was outwardly in the ascendant. She became a kind of celebrity. At the same time her life, to use her own expression, was “getting ... pretty impossible.”24 She was beginning to feel that the way she had been living would be untenable in the long run and that she had to make an important decision to change her life. The main reason was that her revived ideal of lifelong celibacy was proving difficult to sustain without causing trouble at the Department of Psychiatry (or similar places) where almost all of her colleagues were male. Looking around her, Mieko noted two kinds of celibate women – those who were really ravaged by celibacy, and those in whom the ravages caused by celibacy were almost imperceptible, as she wrote in her shuki of  October . Because she had a greater-than-average sexual urge, celibacy was not painless. However, she regarded herself as closer to the second type. Comparing herself with a good friend of hers, she wrote in her shuki of  October : She suffers from celibacy much more than I do. I have something of a vamp within me. Accordingly, in the last analysis my life is not really so abstinent ... It would be interesting to analyze the

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


vamp within me. This would explain a lot of things. My ability to fool people, my strange magical power to intoxicate people and make them adore me as if I were a goddess, must owe a lot to my erotic charm. This thought disgusts me ... On the other hand, I do enjoy my power to captivate people. I want to conquer everyone and toy with my conquests. In the same shuki Mieko proceeded to analyze her somewhat paradoxical attitude towards people who became captive to her charms: “I do not want to be monopolized by anybody. I refuse to subordinate myself to anyone. When someone subordinates himself to me, though I enjoy it in a sense, I wonder at the same time why he should subordinate himself to a mere creature like myself, instead of dedicating himself to a higher and larger cause, universal values (allgemeine Werte), and I treat him with pity and contempt.” She could be “frightfully cruel” when “someone, male or female, subordinates himself totally and passionately to me.” Her practice was to “throw ridicule and abuse upon him, expose his weaknesses mercilessly to knock him out and leave the scene in a rage.” This reflection on her vamplike single life betrays relatively little sense of self-criticism. When Mieko returned to the subject of celibacy in her shuki of  November, her tone was almost complacent. She wrote in English: “The fact of my being loved by so many and yet remaining single has its own beauty and pathos. If I were married, that would bring out many of my as yet unused potentialities into actual fruits [sic]. In giving them  A Woman with Demons

up, I accept my limitations consciously, painfully, and yet knowing that this sacrifice cannot and should not remain without constructive meaning.” By month’s end, however, Mieko had adopted a tone of strong selfrebuke and self-criticism: I am really really humbled now. I am a woman who has been pampered and spoilt by people because of my talent and a bit of personal beauty – at least, my mother always emphasizes my beauty. I am arrogant, wilful, and cold-hearted, and I just keep abandoning men after toying with them. I am zero as far as my worth as a person is concerned. I seem to have been born just to cause trouble to people to make both them and myself more miserable than before. It may be that I will just get old and die in this way without making any contribution to learning or art and without fulfilling normal duties as a woman. Ah, miserere me, kyrie! Cursed be my talent and my beauty! I wish I were an average woman poor in spirit. (Shuki,  November ) Between  November and  November, an unexpected and, for Mieko, unpleasant twist had developed in her relationship with one of her admirers at Tokyo University Hospital. We saw earlier that there was a man in the Department of Psychiatry who was clearly in love with Mieko. Mr R. was apparently an idealistic man who at first made a favourable impression on Mieko, judging from Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


the references to him scattered in her shuki. However, she came to have reservations about him. “He is admirable in some way, but certainly there is something grotesque about him. Something in him sorely irritates my aesthetic feeling. I want to write about him,” wrote Mieko in her shuki of  October . From November  Mr R. started sending her love letters, and finally Mieko wrote to him and asked him “to stop any personal dealings with me from now on” (shuki,  November ). The shuki of  November suggests that she was beginning to react to Mr R. in a strongly negative way, following the usual pattern of her reaction against people who had become captivated by her charms. However, roughly a week later she was stopped on her way to the university by Mr R., who asked for a chance to talk with her. At the time she was moved, in spite of herself, by the sincere, single-minded expression of love in his face and “for the first time gave a serious consideration to the possibility of accepting his sincere love towards me” (shuki,  November ). Three days later she wrote in English: The old fight with myself is again afire, and the old question of whether I should solve it the natural way or against nature. Anyway, I have to be very very cautious against [sic] making any decision lest I should repeat the old mistake. That story should at least have taught me that if nothing else. I feel a kind of trap set me there by Nature. O God! guide me and strengthen me to follow the highest principles in me. 

A Woman with Demons

I must not use people as tools. That is important. I must not play with them like toys. I must not let them be at my mercy. I must not sacrifice them. O poor me! Am I a witch that I exercise such a power of fascination over men? That spoils me and wrecks me, I am sure. (Shuki,  November ) “The old fight with myself” was, roughly speaking, a fight between her desire to marry and her desire to remain celibate. The “natural way” is of course marriage. The “old mistake” must be an allusion to her engagement with T. in . The question what kind of life she would lead was always complicated for her because of the coexistence within her of conflicting attitudes towards marriage. The question whether to marry or not could not be settled once and for all in favour of lifelong celibacy not only because her sexual impulse was strong but also because she wanted to be a wife and mother like an average Japanese woman of the time. Still, on  November , the day she was to meet Mr R., after long reflection and having sought guidance from the Bible and from the writings of her deceased friend Matsuda Keiko, Mieko reaffirmed her intention to stick to celibacy to fulfil her unique mission, “the task of knowing and understanding if only a small part of human nature and imparting it to mankind” (written in English in Mieko’s shuki of  November ). She continued: “With Kazuhiko gone, true marriage has become impossible for me. I mean marriage in the highest sense where the soul and the Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


body are united. To marry now would be simply to allay the flesh, to use the man simply as a means, which is sacrilegious. No, let me be true to my ideal, therein lies my raison d’être.” Later that day Mieko met Mr R. According to her shuki ( November ), Mr R. apparently wanted no more than a fairly mild “spiritual” relationship with her. On the following day she met Mr R. again and asked him once again in unmistakeable terms to sever all personal contact with her. He would not consent to her request, however, and they apparently continued their talk while walking outdoors for two hours (shuki,  November ). On  November , when Mieko went to Tokyo University Hospital, Mr R. followed her everywhere. Mieko was upset and shouted at him in anger, and the matter became public. Her colleagues apparently all felt that Mr R. was to blame and sympathized with Mieko. She was told not to come to the hospital until the matter was settled (shuki,  November ). It was in this context that one of her colleagues said to her, “A person like you may not be able to work among men.”25 The implication, of course, was that Mieko would continue to cause trouble for herself and the men around her by being too attractive. If she had to leave her present workplace for that reason, what options did she have? One was to marry and become a housewife. But as she wrote in her diary: “Ten years’ single life has distorted my character and life style. It is doubtful if I can now adapt myself to the life of an ordinary woman. Even if I could, it would be meaningless to enter a married life if that would mean to sacrifice entirely the fruits of my study of the last ten years.”26  A Woman with Demons

She felt that she had to make some definite arrangement for her future unless something happened soon to pull her in the direction of marriage. What she wrote in Japanese in her shuki of  December  does not sound at all hopeful about the prospect of marriage: “There is absolutely no need to get married for the sake of convenience just to ward off troubles, and sacrifice my marriage partner and waste myself.” However, in the same shuki she wrote in English: I have no idea as to the Kamiya affair. And I don’t know if I would like to get married to him even if he wanted it. But at any rate, that’s a point lying before me at present. If that fails, then shouldn’t I be allowed to decide going [sic] away? Away from the world of men into solitude, work and study. Oh, would I be allowed to do it! For life is getting here pretty impossible, I’m getting a real burden to family life, I know. For I can’t live a normal life if I want to go on alone. And why must I hate those who fall in love with me?! Surely that’s a curse upon me! At the time the difficulty of living as an unmarried woman in the ordinary world brought the Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium back to her mind as an attractive workplace outside the normal world. She wrote in her shuki very early in the morning of  December: “I have a premonition that I will eventually go there; I will be driven to that place no matter how Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


much I try to resist it. I think that I will have only about a year left to live in this world of ordinary people. Accordingly, I should make preparations with my departure in mind.” The preparations she mentioned for this departure could be divided into two categories. The first category consisted of preparations that would help her to lead a rich and creative life in the leprosarium, where she obviously intended to write: To read all the basic books on mental illness. To get myself familiar with the collections of books in the Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, Philosophy, French, and so on, of the University of Tokyo, to enable me to refer to them in future. To get books and musical scores to take with me before my departure, including the complete works of Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Maine de Biran, and Miyazawa Kenji. To learn Chinese literature and Japanese literature from Mrs N. To learn flower arrangement and the tea ceremony. (Shuki,  December ) The second category of preparations consisted of repaying acts of kindness from various people before her disappearance from their world: “To repay kindness which I have received from people of this world before my departure as much as possible – to my father and mother!!! to my siblings!!! to my friends!!! To give French instruction to the medical staff of

 A Woman with Demons

the Department of Psychiatry. To read literature in foreign languages for the benefit of Professor Uchimura and others. To introduce psychopathology. To hold at home or elsewhere meetings for the study of classics for young people, etc.” After the rather long list of “preparations” reflecting her various concerns and interests, Mieko wrote, “Although I can obtain worldly glory easily (or almost because I can get it easily), it is a matter of no interest to me. The only thing which was truly desirable for me was [several words deleted] ... However, this was lost more than ten years ago. I have no longer any worldly attachment. Even learning does not give me a reason to remain here. I have already reached the stage where I should create myself and live according to my own faith.” As I explained in chapter , in the deleted part Mieko may have written something like “to be Kazuhiko’s wife and to be the mother of lovely children” – as noted earlier, the words “and to be the mother of lovely children” are still legible. Mieko concluded her series of reflections in her shuki of  December with the words “Let’s go to Okayama, let’s go!” as if to encourage herself. Okayama is the prefecture in which Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium is situated. In the end, however, Mieko did not leave “the world” to go and work at the leprosarium as an unmarried doctor. What she did instead was to get married seven months later. “The Kamiya affair” that she mentioned in her shuki developed in a way that was completely unforeseen by Mieko.

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


Marriage is an important event in anyone’s life, but Mieko’s marriage, which took place shortly after she had reaffirmed her ideal of lifelong celibacy, meant a radical change in the direction of her life and was for that reason an event of more decisive importance than many marriages. Her marriage to Kamiya Noburō on  July  marked the completion of the first half of her life. How was it that Mieko, who had remained single though she was “loved by so many,” and who had declared that “with Kazuhiko gone, true marriage has become impossible for me,” was finally induced to marry? It seems that Kamiya Noburō entered Mieko’s mind as a possible marriage partner for the first time on  November . In her shuki of that day we read, “Received an unexpected suggestion from Mother concerning Mr K. Life is pretty interesting.” Mr K must be Kamiya Noburō, seeing that Mieko mentions “the Kamiya affair” within two weeks. Mieko’s reaction – “Life is pretty interesting” – was probably elicited by the fact that Kamiya Noburō had been an utter blind spot for her when it came to the question of marriage. He was an outstanding biologist whose brillant research had already attracted wide attention while he was still in his twenties. There was an article about him in the  November  issue of Time. Mieko had known Noburō from her American days. He did research at the University of Pennsylvania under the same professor as Uraguchi Masa, one of Mieko’s very best friends, so she had several opportunities to meet him. In her mind, however, Noburō must have been primarily

 A Woman with Demons

an object of unrequited love for Uraguchi Masa,27 and Mieko had never thought of him as a prospective husband for herself. Mieko’s mother met Noburō on  January  to ascertain Noburō’s interest in her daughter as a possible marriage partner, and Mieko and Noburō started to meet formally as prospective marriage partners from  January  on. Before these formal meetings began, however, Mieko had met Noburō twice – on  January and  January . On the first occasion Noburō had called on her at Tokyo University Hospital, probably because she had tried to see him a week before in connection with a practical business matter. At that time Noburō had been away visiting his father, who was in critical condition, and she could not see him. By the time Mieko saw Noburō on  January he had been suggested to her as a prospective husband, and she looked at him in a new light.28 She wrote in her shuki of  January, “Yesterday, Mr Kamiya came to the medical office. We talked about his father who had died lately, about Miss Uraguchi, about the Ministry of Education, and so on. It seems that we managed to talk a lot within a short period of time. While talking quietly with him, I looked at him with new eyes, as if I investigated or questioned him.” Mieko also wrote, “I have always had a quiet friendly feeling and respect towards him [Kamiya Noburō] from old days. Since I have always regarded him as a possible spouse of Miss Uraguchi, or of Miss B. or of C., my feeling towards him has remained pure friendship. It remains so even now. I see nothing wrong about that. The fact that I do not have a pas-

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


sionate feeling of love rather reassures me.” She was favourably impressed by Kamiya as a possible marriage partner but warned herself not to make another premature decision. On  January it was Mieko’s turn to call on Noburō at the Department of Botany of the University of Tokyo where he was a lecturer – probably just to make an appointment on behalf of her mother who wanted to see him. Later that day she wrote in English in her shuki: A strange confusion is over me. I am now sitting by the Shinobazu pond on the trunk of a tree protruding over the mud and water where dry water plants stick out, tired and dreary. The sun is shining over me quietly and warmly, adding to my inner warmth. I have been walking around since [sic] more than one hour, being too restless to wait till time comes for me to go to the Minister Abe. I have been doing silly things and laugh at myself. Still it interests me greatly to find out that I can do anything, from foolishness to greatest sins. Oh why say such “divagations”! You know that you are foolishly in love; that you can hardly wait till tomorrow. Oh God! pity me this time. Don’t take away this fondest hope. But if you do, give me strength to bear the blow once more. Obviously, Mieko’s feeling was no longer that of “pure friendship.” She was aware that she was “foolishly in love.” The following day her mother  A Woman with Demons

was going to see Noburō to ask him whether he was interested in meeting Mieko as a prospective marriage partner. She now desperately hoped that his answer would be “yes.” Mieko had explained in her diary entry of  January  that she was an instinctive person: “‘Why do we study?’ When I see someone who is tormented by such a question, I realize what an instinctive person I am. For me study, art and action are all instinctive. I engage in them before the question ‘Why?’ arises.”29 Just as Mieko had seldom seen Kazuhiko, she had met Noburō only a few times before marrying him became her “fondest hope.” Deep down in her heart, she had chosen him as her marriage partner even before their formal social contact began. Mieko visited Noburō at his room at the University of Tokyo on  January . She felt that she was enveloped by “quiet happiness” while talking with him,30 a man whom she characterized as “such a good, peaceful man.” Two days later, in her shuki of  January, she wrote, “I feel that I have come to know real love for the first time in my life. For the first time in my life I find myself feeling like begging love from a man.” And, “Oh God, have you sent that man to knock down this headstrong woman at last? Now I am really about to be knocked down. I am about to throw away everything and beg for his pity. Who could have foreseen such a thing?” Mieko found in Kamiya Noburō someone whom she could really respect and love and to whom she was attracted as if by an irresistible force. The timing of Noburō’s emergence as a prospective marriage partner was Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


almost providential because it occurred when her life was getting “pretty impossible.”

Roughly forty days before her marriage Mieko went to Karuizawa, where she was soon to have her honeymoon with Noburō. Her initial intention was to have a quiet time to meditate and take a leisurely farewell from “myself as a virgin,”31 but things turned out differently. She wrote in her diary, “I realize that my old self is already lost. Even in this solitude N [Noburō] never even for a moment leaves my consciousness.”32 Realizing that she was occupied only with wifely or housewifely activities and thoughts, such as preparing for her honeymoon in July, instead of writing articles as she had intended to, Mieko could not help exclaiming, “Am I just an ordinary woman to this extent?!”33 However, she did spend part of her time in Karuizawa thinking about her past and future in a more meditative way. One thing that she thought about was her past love for Kazuhiko and her future life with Noburō. The beginning of her love for Noburō did not mean that Kazuhiko suddenly dropped out of her consciousness altogether. Even after she had realized how much she loved Noburō, Mieko visited Kazuhiko’s parents in January  on the anniversary of Kazuhiko’s death, as in previous years. Mieko also told Noburō about her past love for Kazuhiko. Noburō’s response (as recorded in Mieko’s shuki of  February ) was: “That does not bother

 A Woman with Demons

me at all. On the contrary, I am glad to learn it. I like the fact that you decided never to marry [after Kazuhiko’s death].” Less than two years before, when she had enumerated six items from her past under the heading “Great mistakes” (shuki,  August ), one of the items was “that I could not preserve chastity of my heart towards K [Kazuhiko] to the end.” It seems that her engagement to T. in  had struck her uneasily as an act of disloyalty to Kazuhiko’s memory. Her love and marriage with Noburō, however, generated no such sense of uneasiness or guilt. Mieko sensed a qualitative difference between her love for Kazuhiko and her love for Noburō, for, as we have seen, she characterized her love for Noburō as “real love,” which she was coming to know “for the first time” in her life. Perhaps because her love for Kazuhiko and her love for Noburō were qualitatively different, they were not in competition in her mind. Just as plausible was that her marriage with Noburō was psychologically almost an act of atonement for her past failures concerning Kazuhiko, as we shall see below. Her marriage with Noburō meant the end of that period in her life during which Kazuhiko occupied a central place in her universe. In Karuizawa, surrounded by nature, she wrote in her shuki of  May : When I look at nature, I cannot help remembering K [Kazuhiko]. Looking from a distance at myself who am just about to terminate one life and commence the second one because I have

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


lingered on in life, I have been seized by a melancholic feeling. A time will come when this second life will pass away just like the first one. However, as I was born on this earth, it is probably fitting that I enter human bondage, give myself and foster human life. My love and attachment are those of a person who perfectly knows the transience of everything on earth. Mine is possession with full awareness that everything could be taken away at any moment. In order not to repeat the past regret and sorrow, I should do my utmost to serve N [Noburō] while I am with him, while it is possible to serve him. N is a person with a gentle sensitive heart and a spirit brimming over with goodwill. If I do not serve him heartily, I should be an inhuman wretch. It was a source of everlasting regret and sorrow for Mieko that Kazuhiko died before she could do anything for him during his illness. As mentioned earlier, for reasons we can only guess at, she never saw Kazuhiko in the period before his death. This regret and sorrow gave her an added motivation to marry and serve Noburō. It was in Karuizawa towards the end of May  that Mieko finalized her decision to marry Noburō. In her shuki of “ May [], toward :

P.M .” we find the following words, Now I am about to leave this cottage. Next time I come here, I will already be a married woman. This thought fills me with 

A Woman with Demons

almost perplexingly deep emotion and presses my throat and chest. During the past week I have struggled here with my fate all by myself. I have ascertained that this marriage is the only path which I should follow. I have pictured to myself concretely all the sufferings this marriage might bring to me, and have made up my mind to accept them all. Alone at the moment of my departure from this place I pray to God for His help. Even if I am deceived into this marriage, I have nothing to say in objection, if it is God who deceives me. No longer intoxicated with love, I set out with prayer in a solemn frame of mind. One of the fears that loomed large in Mieko’s mind when she pictured to herself “all the sufferings this marriage might bring” was undoubtedly the fear of losing her identity as a person, her individuality. For a long time she had been aware that she was very different from almost everybody else. This difference had created a lot of practical difficulties for her. On the other hand, it had given her a clear sense of identity and a sense of mission as someone who was “destined to make a unique contribution to the world” (shuki,  February ). For a long time she believed that this ability to make a unique or original contribution as she ardently desired to do depended on her “living faithfully [her] unique fate” (shuki,  November ). And “living faithfully my unique fate” had for a long time been almost synonymous with persevering in unmarried life. Now Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


she was going to marry like everybody else. In her diary we can perceive a kind of identity crisis caused by her love and her imminent marriage: Faced with love and marriage in real life, I feel that my existence is being overturned from its very bottom, and this fills me with anxiety. A little while ago I turned off the light, went to the balcony, lay on my back, and looked at the starlit sky. The stars were the same as before, but I felt that I had changed completely. Or rather, I felt at a loss, not finding my usual ego. The idea of losing my ego startles me. Where has my ego gone? Is it coming back to me? Or is my ego from now on going to be absorbed by my husband and children? It scares me to think that I may not have the ability to think for myself and create for myself in the future.34 However, despite such anxiety, Mieko reaffirmed her decision to marry Noburō. She continues: There are women who do not lose their individuality and creative power even after marriage, aren’t there? Aren’t my individuality and vital power also strong enough to withstand marriage? If they are not, that can’t be helped. Even if I don’t like it, there is nothing I can do to change it. As long as I choose marriage,

 A Woman with Demons

my first duty is to serve my husband and my children. In particular, I feel keenly my solemn duty and responsibility towards the next generation and offspring. The period in which I can do whatever I like with myself is coming to an end. It was good that I came here to liquidate my self-indulgent past and reflect upon myself once again. I have ascertained clearly that I am not a person to remain single any longer and that my marriage with N will really be a great blessing. My marriage with him will give me, who is a chaos, order and unity. That is what I need more than anything else. I who am brimming over with vital power requires restriction. Even if it is painful to be subjected to it, I must accept it willingly. Only when I have fulfilled my duties as a woman, may I claim my right as a person.35 This suggests that Mieko believed that in the long run her marriage, rather than hinder her, would help her to fulfil her mission to make a unique and original contribution to the world. In the next chapter we shall see how things turned out after Mieko’s marriage.

Psychiatrist at Tokyo University Hospital


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Kamiya Mieko in her Later Years

Mieko married Kamiya Noburō on  July . The first ten years of her marital life were an illustration of how difficult it was for a married woman to combine the responsibilities of a housewife and mother with creative work as a scholar and researcher in Japan at that period. It was before the two decades of remarkable economic growth that transformed Japan, beginning in the early s, into one of the richest countries in the world. Noburō later said, “Many people imagine that my wife [Mieko] could study in a privileged environment. The fact is, however, that the environment surrounding her was very unfavourable for her after her marriage.”1 In the first place, Mieko soon became the mother of two chil-

dren. Their birth was a great blessing to her, but motherhood left her relatively little time for study or research. Besides, as Kamiya Noburō says, “the salaries of the university teachers were low around that time,”2 and Mieko, Noburō, and the two children could hardly live on Noburō’s salary alone. What little free time Mieko had left after performing her work as a housewife had to be used mostly for teaching foreign languages in an effort to augment the household income. Mieko had her own view about the woman’s mission in life. As she wrote at Karuizawa before her marriage: “A human being who was born from dust returns to dust. I can no longer simply return to dust, however. I am called to help and foster other human beings as a woman.”3 This view of the woman’s role probably explains why she shouldered the major share of household chores and worries in this marriage of two exceptionally gifted individuals. In her autobiography she wrote: “From the beginning I had no intention of making my husband, who was absorbed in his teaching and research at his university, take an outside job just to earn extra money. It has been my consistent wish since then that at least my husband realize his promise as a scholar.”4 Mieko also spent a considerable amount of time correcting English, both in her husband’s papers5 and, later, in the papers of the young scholars who had been his students.6 Although Mieko did this work voluntarily, a life that gave her little time for what she really wanted to do as a scholar and a writer was frustrating to her. Her published diaries give some idea of her frustration. In October

Later Years 

 she wrote, “My demons have been raging terribly these days, and countless times have I felt like abandoning myself to despair.”7 Again, in August : “Correcting the English [of my students] every day makes me so frustrated that I almost feel like committing suicide. Does human life consist in doing what one does not want to do? How long do I have to teach foreign languages? Foreign languages, you are my curse. / If my time is so much taken up by such matters, I will never be able to establish myself as a psychiatrist.”8 One of the most pressing reasons why she had to earn money was that one of her children contracted tuberculosis from a visiting housekeeper whom she had hired for twenty days while she was suffering from bad influenza.9 However, we will not go further into the details of her heroic struggle for the sake of her family, for this is dealt with in her autobiography. It seems that it was only after the first ten years of her marriage had passed that Mieko started to see some light before her as a psychiatrist. In , the year after the family’s move to the Kansai area (the area around Kyoto and Osaka), Mieko became a research student in the neurology department of the Faculty of Medicine at Osaka University (her husband had become a professor in the Faculty of Science at the same university). Because of the demands made on her time by her responsibilities as a housewife and a teacher of foreign languages, however, she could not make much headway in her research. Her difficult struggle around this time is reflected in her diary entry of  October :

 A Woman with Demons

If I give myself up to despair, that will be the end. Isn’t it precisely through overcoming the temptation to self-abandonment that I can feel that my life is worth living? If I give up, I will just become a woman, wrinkled with care and ravaged both physically and mentally, who is overcome by the difficulties of real life and is forever complaining about them. If I do nothing but side jobs to earn money, that will inevitably be my fate. That is because in the side jobs there is no real intellectual concentration and challenge. In the translation of Greek tragedies, these are not entirely lacking. Perhaps I should translate Greek tragedies as my second best option.10 The “second best option” was not a permanent solution, however, and Mieko really wanted to establish herself as a psychiatrist. There were two main reasons why things started to improve for Mieko roughly ten years after her marriage. One was financial. In her autobiography Mieko wrote, “The eldest brother of my husband gave me a fund for my research out of the legacy of his late father, saying that ‘We could just think that there is one more sibling in our family.’ I am infinitely grateful to my late brother-in-law for this.”11 The second reason was that she resolved the question of her research topic. As a research student Mieko’s immediate concrete objective was to do research on a topic approved by the head of the Department of Neurology, write a dissertation, and get

Later Years 

a doctorate. For some time she could not find a suitable research topic. Then, in  a psychiatric research project at Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium emerged as a possible topic and she wrote Dr Mitsuda, head of the leprosarium, to inquire if it was possible for her to conduct a survey there.12 According to Mieko’s reminiscences, it was her husband who suggested she do research on leprosy at this time.13 Noburō had no prejudice against leprosy. In fact, before their marriage when Mieko and Noburō discussed the possibility of unifying their fields of specialization, Noburō had told Mieko, “If your specialization were the study of leprosy, I might have decided to abandon my own specialization to work with you” (shuki,  June ). From the moment Mieko resumed contact with the Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium in , Noburō always warmly encouraged her in her work there. Mieko visited Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium in September  after a thirteen-year interval.14 She explained the purpose of her planned survey to the leading members of the patients’ association and got their consent for her research. The survey was conducted in  and  over a period of fifty days in total. Out of it grew the dissertation for which she received her doctorate from Osaka University in . Shortly before she conceived the idea of conducting research at Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium, she had been diagnosed as having cancer and had received a successful radium treatment. However, when she made her decision to go to the leprosarium, she was uncertain about how much time

 A Woman with Demons

she had left to live. There seems to be a widespread notion in Japan that all those years Mieko had regarded service to leprosy patients as her highest goal and that she had decided to go to the leprosarium when her life was threatened by cancer to realize her long-cherished goal while she was still alive. This view exaggerates the importance of her visits to Nagashima. She went there to conduct a survey to collect materials for her dissertation. The results of her research might shed light on problems the leprosy patients faced and might be beneficial to them, but it was medical research and was not intended as a direct service to the patients. Even if Mieko shed tears of regret at the prospect of dying without doing what she should have done in her life, it is premature to conclude that what she wanted to do before her death was to serve lepers. In my view what she felt she should have done in  was still primarily what she said she wanted to do in her shuki of  January : “I want to write a book to express what I have seen, felt, and thought through my true nature which I cannot change no matter how much I try.” As she wrote to Uraguchi Masa on  April : “When I realized that I might not live long because of my cancer, I felt that I could die at any moment without a regret if only I could write a small book embodying the fruit of my effort up to that time to observe and understand the world and man.”15 Nevertheless, the survey she conducted at Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium in  and  proved to be a very important event in her life. First, Mieko managed to write a dissertation based on the survey and

Later Years 

received her doctorate in . After this she was able to obtain a position as a professor of psychiatry and no longer had to teach languages to supplement the family income. Second, during the time she visited the leprosarium for her survey, two things in particular impressed her strongly.16 One was that many patients with relatively light symptoms suffered from a sense of meaninglessness in their lives. This stimulated Mieko into thinking about the question what gives a sense of meaning to life, or what makes one feel that life is worth living – the very question that she herself had had to face after the death of Kazuhiko. This eventually resulted in the writing of her first and, in her own eyes, most important book, What Makes Our Life Worth Living, published in . The second thing that made an indelible impression on her was that some mental patients in the leprosarium were left without any medical treatment under shocking conditions in a filthy jail-like hut. “It is a veritable national humiliation that in a corner of Japan which aspires to be a civilized nation there should still be such a place,” Mieko could not help telling Dr Takashima Shigetaka, who had succeeded Dr Mitsuda as the head of the leprosarium. That was on  October . Dr Takashima replied to her, “If you think so, please come and be a psychiatrist of this leprosarium.” When Mieko mentioned the difficulty of doing so because she had to look after her two children, Dr Takashima asked her to find a psychiatrist for the leprosarium and, to the extent that was possible given her cir-

 A Woman with Demons

cumstances, to give psychiatric care to the patients until one was found.17 That was why her connection with the leprosarium continued beyond the end of her survey, ending in April . In this way she was able to fulfil, though belatedly, her youthful aspiration of serving leprosy patients. Mieko’s work at the leprosarium became an important part of her life. It satisfied her deep-rooted altruistic impulse. Perhaps equally important was that it stimulated her thinking. However, it did not radically change her life, nor did she ever regard it as her most important work. Since Mieko only went to the leprosarium once a month for a few days, the total amount of time she devoted to this work was relatively modest. As she herself admitted, it was a misunderstanding on the part of the public that so many thought she had lived in the leprosarium and devoted herself entirely to the service of leprosy patients.18 On  December  Mieko went to see a van Gogh exhibition in Kyoto. This exhibition reminded her once again of her real vocation. She wrote in her diary of that day: In the afternoon I went to the van Gogh exhibition in Kyoto ... I was overwhelmed by powerful green. I felt once again that I should devote myself to expression. I should be rather grateful for the fact that the path to living as a real scholar is closed to me. I should accept this suggestion meekly.

Later Years 

At the exhibition and during my train ride home I continued to ruminate on this and repeated to myself, “Devote the rest of your life completely to this mission!” I should finish my dissertation as soon as possible so that I may embark on a work to fulfil my mission.19 “Expression” in her case meant writing what reflected her unique life and thought. It was towards the end of  that Mieko first conceived the notion of writing the book that eventually became What Makes Our Life Worth Living [Ikigai ni tsuite]. A diary entry from January  shows that she had already embarked on the writing: “I was again absorbed in writing Ikigai at night. As I was overflowing with ideas, I played quiet pieces on the piano for one hour partly to make my children fall asleep and partly to calm myself. What a moving experience it is that I can use all my past experiences and studies to create a unified whole through my writing!”20 Mieko finished the first draft on  September . In her diary entry of that day, she wrote, “I feel that now I could die without a regret.”21 These words show the tremendous importance to Mieko of writing What Makes Our Life Worth Living. Writing was far more important to her than her work as a doctor, although the popular image of Mieko is primarily that of a doctor who treated leprosy patients. A few days after finishing the first draft of the book, Mieko wrote in her diary:


A Woman with Demons

At last this is the last day of the summer vacation. While making preparations for the resumption of classes, I looked back over this summer in which I was completely absorbed in writing my book. As my writing progressed over the summer, it became more and more evident that this was my most important task. I could almost say that I had been living just to write this book. What surprise, joy, and awe I felt as I gradually came to discover that. I had never even really imagined the possibility that the meaning of my life would some day be gradually revealed to me in this way.22 Shortly after Mieko started working on the book, her circumstances improved significantly. In  she became a professor in the Department of Sociology at Kobe College (Kōbe Jogakuin Daigaku) in Nishinomiya, Japan. She had been affiliated with the college since , mostly as a parttime lecturer teaching foreign languages (English and French), but in her eyes teaching was only a means of earning money and she longed to be free of it. The position in the Department of Sociology, however, allowed her to teach courses related to psychiatry, such as mental hygiene, social psychiatry, and cultural psychiatry. Thus, for the first time her job and her own interest converged to a significant extent. In preparing for her courses she was able to study various topics that really interested her and that she could use in her writing. After teaching at Kobe College for three

Later Years 

years, she moved to Tsuda College, her alma mater, in  and remained a professor there until . Her decision to take up the position at Tsuda College was based on her desire to get more free time for her research, since at Tsuda College she was required to teach “only one day a week or one day a month.”23 Travelling to Tokyo regularly was onerous for her, however, although the opening of the New Tokaidō Line with its “bullet trains” between Shin-Osaka and Tokyo in  eased the burden considerably. Mieko’s course on psychiatry, which was open to all students at the college, became immensely popular; at one point as many as nine hundred students were enrolled in the course. Mieko felt uneasy about teaching such a big class without any possibility of real contact with individual students. On each of the ten days in the academic year on which she taught this course, she spent two or three hours, after teaching for six hours, with those students who wanted to receive individual counselling from her. So the workload for her on her teaching days was really heavy.24 Although Mieko was a very popular teacher, and while she herself often derived considerable satisfaction from her teaching, she never really felt that teaching was her real vocation in the way that writing was. During much of the time she was affiliated with her alma mater, she also regularly visited the Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium. Considering that she was also a conscientious housewife, she was shouldering a workload that would be


A Woman with Demons

deemed excessive from a commonsensical point of view. She wanted to confine her outside commitments to the leprosarium alone and concentrate on writing. However, before she could rationalize her life in this way, her health started to deteriorate. From  on, during the last few years of her life, Mieko’s activities were restricted by recurrent health problems involving her heart and blood vessels in her brain.25 Her ill health forced her to give up public commitments and concentrate on her writing, which was what she wanted to do more than anything else: despite considerable suffering and inconvenience, she almost felt her illness as a blessing in disguise for that reason. Akashi Miyo, one of Mieko’s best friends from her student days at Tokyo Women’s Medical College, recalls a conversation with Mieko when Akashi visited her in hospital on  September . Mieko said: I wonder if you still remember what you said when I complained that I could not write due to lack of time? You said, “Why did you get married then? If you really want to do what your demon tells you, why don’t you leave your house, abandoning your home and children?” Your words which gave me a great shock enabled me to see where I stood with clarity. Now I may be happier than at any other time in my life. Freed from all the worldly obligations, I can read when I want to read, and I can write what

Later Years 

I want to write when I want to. Isn’t that wonderful? I feel that I “have left my house” in my own way. Illness is a cheap price to pay for that.26 Thus her last years were devoted to writing within the limits that her fragile health allowed. At last she was reconciled with the strongest of her demons – the demon of writing. The final part of the manuscript of her autobiography was sent to her publisher only a week before her death,27 and with its completion Mieko managed to fulfil her pledge to herself as well as she could under the circumstances – to write before her death on the topics in the list she had made years before. Many significant autobiographical accounts that had still to be written or completed even after the publication of What Makes Our Life Worth Living and a few other more impersonal books were given to the public in this autobiography. Despite a meandering life path directed by outer fate (the momentous events beyond her control, such as Kazuhiko’s death) and her inner fate (her multifaceted, self-contradictory personality), her life taken as whole seems to have been a beautiful story with a perfect ending.


A Woman with Demons


By Way of a Conclusion: A Happy Ending

In a book first published in  Mieko wrote, “A human life is for the individual who lives it primarily a journey of his mind [kokoro].”1 The mind of an individual cannot be seen from outside. Previous biographies of Mieko have understood her life in a way that is significantly different from the way Mieko herself understood it; they more or less overlooked the significance of Kazuhiko’s death, which radically altered the inner landscape of Mieko’s mind. In this book I have tried to pay adequate attention to this crucial event in Mieko’s life. The trauma that Kazuhiko’s death inflicted on Mieko healed very slowly. The following two quotations taken from Mieko’s shuki suggest that she had completely recovered from that trauma by :

p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p

In comparison with ten years ago when just to go on living was a terrible agony, what a bright life I am blessed with now! What a happiness it is that I can now live absorbed by large things, such as truth, beauty, and love. (Shuki,  April ) I remember that once I broke into uncontrollable tears looking at the same moon from this same place [the family cottage in Karuizawa]. I am filled with a sense of wonder that not a trace of the same feeling arises within me now. What a strange thing a human mind is! (Shuki,  May ) The recovery suggested here, however, was more apparent than real. We realize this, for example, from the allusions that Mieko made to her loss of Kazuhiko in , more than a quarter-century after his death. In her shuki of  July , she wrote, “It is really astonishing that the sorrow of the past lives on for decades in your unconsciousness and could manifest itself as tears and wailing whenever the control of the consciousness weakens. What was lost can never be recovered. A life which was once broken can never be restored to its original state. A life built on sorrow – there are people who live such a life. When what was lost is a human being, we are made painfully aware of the irreplaceableness of an individual.” Similarly, on  April , after visiting Kazuhiko’s parents, Mieko wrote in her shuki, “Even after the lapse of twenty-five years, with what


A Woman with Demons

tenacity sorrow lives on in my heart!” Her words remind us once again of the tremendous damage Mieko sustained from Kazuhiko’s death. When we remember how scanty Mieko’s real contact with Kazuhiko had been and that Mieko herself had implicitly admitted, after falling in love with Noburō, that her love for Kazuhiko was not “real love,” we cannot help being astonished at the fact that Mieko in  was apparently still smarting from the loss of Kazuhiko. “What a strange thing a human mind is!” as Mieko herself said. Then is it wrong to think that Mieko’s life had a happy ending? Did Mieko never fully recover from the trauma of Kazuhiko’s death? I do think that her life had a happy ending. We must remember that writing What Makes Our Life Worth Living – a book reflecting Mieko’s struggle with the sense that her own life had lost its meaning in the wake of Kazuhiko’s death – was for her a cathartic experience: “What piled up in my mind has all been poured out, liberating me from the sense of oppression. I have a sense of veritable levitation. / I feel that I can now die content. I am filled with a sense of gratitude.”2 In my view it is not a coincidence that, as far as I know, Mieko’s allusions to the loss of Kazuhiko disappear completely with the writing of What Makes Our Life Worth Living. The trauma of that loss was also felt in Mieko’s inability to feel joy. She wrote in “Hitorigoto” (“Monologue”) under the date  June : “To have a heart which has lost the ability to feel joy at anything in the world was once my greatest misfortune. That was a greater bother than anything

A Happy Ending


else and made me feel at a loss what to do.”3 By the time Mieko wrote this passage, however, she had regained her ability to feel joy, as her next sentence showed: “Accordingly, I feel an inexpressible wonder and joy at the fact that now my heart leaps with excitement at the mere sound of leaves swaying in the wind.” Mieko was also aware that after Kazuhiko’s death her relationships with other people became impersonal. Thus, in her shuki of  February , from which we have already quoted, she wrote: “Why have I become a person that I am? Wasn’t my loss of K [Kazuhiko] after all the cause of everything, rather than my innate character?” Mieko then wonders, “because thus impersonal, have I become a person who cannot love anybody – including a man – except impersonally since then?” Mieko was originally someone who felt a strong emotional attachment to another person as an irreplaceable individual.4 Her extraordinary attachment to Kazuhiko was evidence of this. However, his death inflicted a much deeper wound on her than it would on someone less emotionally attached. The result was that she became impersonal. She became detached from people and things around her. As she wrote in her shuki of  March : “I seem to make people feel lonely or dissatisfied from time to time because of my excessive detachment from people and things.” She continued to love people, but her love had become impersonal, relatively speaking, without a strong emotional attachment to any particular individual.


A Woman with Demons

Miyazawa Kenji, whom Mieko respected deeply, once wrote, “I do not have any special love towards particular individuals, nor do I want to have such love. For those who have such love will end up in the commonplace of cherishing only their own children.”5 From a certain point of view, impersonal love that is directed towards everyone may be regarded as superior to a personal love that is directed towards particular individuals, fostering a strong emotional tie with them. The impartiality with which Mieko treated people – which impressed a fifteen-year-old boy so much that he talked about his single encounter with her in  more than a half century later6 – was very likely related to her being impersonal in her relationship with people. However, in her shuki of  February  Mieko wrote negatively about her impersonal nature, or her inability to love anybody personally after the death of Kazuhiko: “This is my malady. I will not be cured of it until my death.” In the end, however, once she had finished writing What Makes Our Life Worth Living, it seems that Mieko became much more like those ordinary people who show partiality for their own children. References to her family in her published diary give us that impression: “An unmarried person cannot understand human weakness. The weakness of being obsessively concerned with a person because of love!”7 And later: “I was tormented by a nightmare about R and T all night last night. The folly of worrying about them both incessantly!”8

A Happy Ending


The last entry of her diary proper, rather than the desk diary, is that of  July .9 The picture that emerges of Mieko in her sickroom, overjoyed by a visit from her husband and two children, suggests that she was no longer so impersonal and that by this time she had long since bade farewell to her past with Kazuhiko: “Tohl, Ritz, and Nob came to see me in my sickroom together. What a pleasure! They say that they will take me to Hodaka Mountain in August. I hardly deserve such a treat. While laughing, I tried hard not to cry for gratitude.”10


A Woman with Demons


I N TRODUCTION  Kamiya Mieko often transcribed her personal name into Roman letters as “Miyeko.” I follow a more standard method of transcription, however, and spell her name “Mieko” except when I cite her English-language publications in which she used the other spelling.  After the first appearance of a title in Japanese in a chapter, I will normally provide only its English translation in subsequent references.  Letter to N. (a fictitious name to protect privacy) of  September , written in English, a copy of which is found among the Kamiya Papers. By the Kamiya Papers I mean all the materials relevant to the study of Kamiya Mieko that her husband, Dr Kamiya Noburō, had preserved and that he kindly allowed me to examine.  Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko, Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, –) will be cited hereafter as Works, followed by volume and page numbers when appropriate.  Tsurumi Shunsuke, “Shinwateki jikan” (Mythological Time) in Tsurumi Shunsuke et al., Shinwateki jikan,

p p p p p p p

edited by Yokota Sachiko (Kumamoto: Kumamoto Kodomo no Hon no Kenkyūkai, ), . Ejiri Mihoko, Kamiya Mieko (Tokyo: Shimizu Shoin, ). The other three are Kamiya Mieko Tōkyō Kenkyūkai, Kamiya Mieko no ikigai no sodatekata (Tokyo: Bunka Sōsaku Shuppan, ); Miyabara Yasuharu, Kamiya Mieko seinaru koe (Tokyo: Kōdansha, ); and Kakinoki Hide, Kamiya Mieko hito to shite utsukushiku (Tokyo: Yamato Shobō, ). Since I normally live in Montreal, I have had a chance to see only one documentary on Kamiya, which was broadcast by Nihon Terebi TV channel on  May . Miyeko Kamiya, “The Existence of a Man Placed in a Limit-Situation,” Confinia psychiatrica  (): –; and “Virginia Woolf: An Outline of a Study of Her Personality, Illness and Work,” Confinia psychiatrica  (): –. Kamiya was well acquainted with Simone Weil’s writings and wrote an article on her (first published in ), “Shimōnu Vēyu no kiseki” (“Tracks Left by Simone Weil”) in Tabi no techō yori (From My Travel Notebook), in Works, vol.  (), –. Her strong interest in Simone Weil is also reflected in references to Weil in her correspondence. To cite an example, Kamiya’s letter to N. of  March , written in English, contains the following (quoted from a copy of the letter found among the Kamiya Papers): “She symbolizes the tragedy of the seeker. I am also always a seeker, though with my God. I do not think all seekers have to be tragic. But I cannot help admiring the wide range of Simone’s seeking, the intensity and integrity of her life. Of course, each one of us has a modus vivendi of our own; I do not mean to imitate her or anybody.” This quotation suggests that Kamiya herself was aware of both her affinity with, and difference from, Simone Weil.


Notes to pages xii–xiii

 Diary,  October , in Wakaki hi no nikki (Diary of Younger Days), in Works, Supplementary volume  (), .  Diary,  July , in Nikki shokan shū (Selected Diary Entries and Letters), in Works, vol.  (), –.  The words are attributed to Caroline Graveson, a British psychologist whom Kamiya befriended during her American days, as recorded in Kamiya’s notebook in which she mainly listed the topics for her future writings. It is found among the Kamiya Papers. On the cover of this notebook is written Kamiya’s pen name Toba Mitsuko, which she used when she was young. Hereafter this notebook will be cited as Toba Mitsuko Notebook.  Kamiya Noburō, “Atogaki” (Afterword), in Works, : . Wanderings was published by Misuzu Shobō in  as volume  of her collected works.  I must add, however, that reading Kamiya’s autobiography alone does not give us an adequate understanding of Kamiya’s life, especially of her very complicated inner journey, although it is a very interesting autobiography in many ways. It does not mention, for example, Nomura Kazuhiko, the young man whose death when Kamiya was twenty was, in my view, the key to understanding her life (see the subsequent part of this introduction). There is also significant disparity concerning some important events in her life such as the revival of her aspiration to study medicine during her stay in the United States (see chapter ), between Kamiya’s account in Wanderings, completed at the end of her life, and what actually happened according to more reliable unpublished sources written by her when these events were unfolding. The inadequacy and occasional unreliability of Wanderings as suggested above is the reason why I have felt the need to write this biography, instead of just translating Wanderings and some other more fragmentary autobiographical writings of hers that have already been published .

Notes to pages xiii–xvi 

  

   

Wanderings draws on materials written over years. Nevertheless, some sections were written or given their finishing touches only in the year of her death; see Kamiya Noburō, “‘Atogaki’ ni kaete” (“In Lieu of a Postcript”), in Works, : –). The following quotation taken from chapter  of Wanderings – “At this moment when my life is about to come to an end, I can only express my gratitude for so much assistance given to me” – (Works, : ), suggests that she came to be aware of her imminent death while she was still writing the book. Perhaps Kamiya had no choice but to give priority to finishing the as yet incomplete sections of Wanderings even at the cost of simplifying her story, rather than giving full justice to all the complexities of her inner journey. Tsurumi, “Shinwateki jikan” (Mythological Time), . Ikigai ni tsuite (What Makes Our Life Worth Living), in Works, vol.  (), . We do not know where Kamiya found this poem first published in . The quoted part is found, among others, in Ōoka Shōhei, ed., Nakahara Chūya shishū (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, ), –. “Ma no fuchi” (“A Haunted Pool”), in Kamiya Mieko, Utsuwa no uta (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), –. Copied in Kamiya’s shuki of that date. uoted from a published diary entry dated  March  in “Hibi” (“Days”), Kamiya Mieko chosakushū geppō, no.  (March ): . See my previous book on Kamiya, Sōshitsu kara no shuppatsu: Kamiya Mieko no koto (Starting from a Loss: A Life of Kamiya Mieko), Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, . I would like to say a few words about the relationship between the present work and the Japanese book. This book is not a translation of Sōshitsu kara no shuppatsu: Kamiya Mieko no koto (Starting from a Loss: A Life of Kamiya Mieko). I wrote the first draft before I started the Japanese book, although it has been 

Notes to pages xvi–xx

revised since Sōshitsu kara no shuppatsu was published. I did draw on Sōshitsu kara no shuppatsu, pp. –, to a significant extent for the brief last chapter “By Way of a Conclusion: A Happy Ending,” which was written anew and added to the manuscript after publication of the Japanese book. However, that was the exception. Since I wrote A Woman with Demons with a different audience in mind, it was impossible for me just to translate Sōshitsu kara no shuppatsu. That work was primarily for a Japanese audience, many of whom I assumed had read some of Kamiya’s works and were already interested in her. I also assumed that they possessed a fairly good background knowledge of her and of Japan. For the present work written primarily for a non-Japanese audience, I assumed no previous knowledge about Kamiya or much background knowledge about Japan on the part of my readers. These differences meant, for example, that much of what I would have deemed superfluous in my Japanese book had to be explained in the present work. Accordingly, I had to write this book as an independent work from my previous book, despite the fact that my basic understanding of Kamiya and her life remains the same.  Diary,  June , in Works, Supplementary volume , .  See Nakai Hisao, “Seishinkai to shite no Kamiya Mieko san ni tsuite” (Ms Kamiya Mieko as a Psychiatrist), in Kamiya Mieko: Hito to shigoto (Kamiya Mieko: Her Personality and Her Work), in Works, Appendix volume, .

CHAPTER ONE  Kamiya Mieko, Tabi no techō yori (From My Travel Notebook), in Kamiya Mieko chosa-kushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), vol.  (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), . Notes to pages xx– 

 Matsumoto Takashi, “Bōkei no omoide” (“Reminiscence of My Late Elder Brother”) in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon: Sono bun sono hito (Tokyo: Tokyo Shisei Chōsakai, ), –.  Abe Yoshishige, “Maeda-kun no koto” in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon,  and . From p. of this article we learn that Maeda Tamon eventually became very unhappy about his father’s selling playing cards, dubious commodities because of their association with gambling, and in tears asked his father to stop.  The account about the family background and education of Kamiya’s mother is based on Henreki (Wanderings), in Works, vol.  (), –.  Matsumoto, “Reminiscences of My Late Elder Brother,” Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon, .  uoted from Toba Mitsuko Notebook. It is conceivable that these words were contained in a letter from her father. In her reminiscence of her father titled “Chichi (Maeda Tamon) no ningenzō,” Mieko talks about a letter that she received from her father while she was staying in Karuizawa with her siblings and that had a tremendous impact upon her to mark the first step towards her awakening as an individual (see Kamiya Mieko, From My Travel Notebook, in Works, : –).  They are Kamiya’s autobiography Wanderings, in Works, vol.  and “Jiden danshō” (“Autobiographic Fragments”), in Kamiya Mieko: Hito to shigoto (Kamiya Mieko: Her Personality and Her Work), in Works, Appendix volume (), –.  Yōichi’s words as quoted in Works, Appendix volume, .  Ibid., .  “Nenpu” (“Chronology”) in Works, Appendix volume, –.

 Notes to pages –

 “Ryaku nenpu” (“Concise Chronology”), in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon, .  Works, Appendix volume, .  Works, : .  Ibid., .  Ibid.  Ibid., –.  Ibid., .  Ibid.  “Concise Chronology,” in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon, –.  Works, : . As for the names of the schools where Yōichi studied, see “Ryaku nenpu” (“Concise Chronology”) in Maeda Yōichi: Sono hito sono bun (Tokyo: edited and published by “Maeda Yōichi: Sono hito sono bun” Henshū Kankō Iinkai, ), .  Works, : .  Ibid. See also Works, Appendix volume, . This picture is one of the photographs reproduced at the end of Part One of Works, Appendix volume, following p..  Works, : .  Works, Appendix volume, .  Works, : .  Ibid. Information about Mieko’s friend is also taken from Works, Appendix volume, .  Works, Appendix volume, .  See her shuki of  September  in which the word “Urmutter” occurs. To express basically the same ideal, on top of “Urmutter,” Mieko also used words such as “Mother Earth’s womb” (her shuki of  July ) and “great

Notes to pages –


mother” (diary,  June , in Nikki shokan shū [Selected Diary Entries and Letters], in Works, vol.  [], ).  Matsumoto, “Reminiscence of My Late Elder Brother” in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon, .  Maeda Yōichi, “Ko kara mita chichi” (“My Father Seen by His Son”), in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon, .  Matsumoto, “Reminiscence of My Late Elder Brother,” in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon, .

CH A P T ER T WO  “Jeneva no gakkō” (“My Schools in Geneva”), Kamiya Mieko: Hito to shigoto (Kamiya Mieko: Her Personality and Her Work), in Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), Appendix volume (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), .  “Jiden danshō” (“Autobiographical Fragments”), Works, Appendix volume, –.  The discussion of Mieko’s days at this elementary school and at École Internationale de Genève (International School of Geneva) that follows is mostly based on a section of her autobiography, Henreki (Wanderings) in Works, vol.  (), – and “My Schools in Geneva,” in Works, Appendix volume, –.  “My Schools in Geneva,” in Works, Appendix volume, .  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid., .  Ibid., .  Ibid., . 

Notes to pages –

 That is what Mieko says in Wanderings, in Works, : . However, a few pages later (p.) she mentions a classmate who belonged to an émigré Russian family.  Works, Appendix volume, .  Ibid.  Ibid., .  Among the Kamiya Papers, we find a notebook used while Mieko attended the École Internationale to record homework. At the beginning of the notebook is information about the owner of the notebook “CARNET appartenant à Miyeko Mayeda/ École Internationale/ Année / Classe de B secondaire (Mr Dupuy)” followed by a section titled HORAIRE (Timetable) and a section “Travaux à domicile” (“Homework”). My statement that Mr Dupuy taught “Culture générale” five hours each week is based on this notebook.  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid., .  Based on her school report (“Report for the Term”) for the – academic year found among the Kamiya Papers.  The notebook mentioned in note .  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Mieko writes in her autobiography, “My timidity and shyness were conspicuous already when I was a pupil of S School [Sacred Heart Girls’ School] and it is a personality trait likely to continue until my death. I have, however, also reckless boldness which I have inherited from my mother somewhere, which explains my unexpected conduct as an adult” (Wanderings, in Works, : ).  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Yuzo Ota, Basil Hall Chamberlain: Portrait of a Japanologist (Richmond, Surrey, England: Curzon Press, ), –. Notes to pages –


   




    

Wanderings, in Works, : . Ibid., . Ibid. This expression is found in Maeda Tamon’s autobiographical essay titled “Michikusa no ato,” in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon: Sono bun sono hito (Tokyo: Tokyo Shisei Chōsakai, ), . Maeda Tamon also titled his reminiscence of Nitobe “Kiseichū to shite no kansō” (“Observations of a Parasite”). See “Kiseichū to shite no kansō,” in Maeda Tamon and Takagi Yasaka, eds., Nitobe Hakushi tsuisōshū (Reminiscences of Dr Nitobe) (Tokyo: Ko Nitobe Hakushi Kinen Jigyō Jikkō Iin, ), –. Maeda Tamon, “Uchimura Sensei to watashi” (“Mr Uchimura and I”), in Kaisō no Uchimura Kanzō (Reminiscences of Uchimura Kanzō), edited by Suzuki Toshirō (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, ), –. Maeda Yōichi, “Nitobe Inazō no konnichiteki igi” (“The Significance of Nitobe Inazō for the Present Age”), in Maeda Yōichi: Sono hito sono bun (Tokyo: edited and published by “Maeda Yōichi: Sono hito sono bun” Henshū Kankō Iinkai, ), . “Bōfu Maeda Tamon o kataru” (“My Late Father Maeda Tamon”), Tabi no techō yori (From My Travel Notebook), in Works, vol.  (), . Maeda Yōichi gives an interesting story in “The Significance of Nitobe Inazō for the Present Age,” Maeda Yōichi, –, to explain how his mother had become so close to Nitobe as to induce him to be concerned with the question of her marriage. Wanderings, in Works, : . Ibid., . “Autobiographic Fragments,” in Works, Appendix volume, . Wanderings, in Works, : . This episode is described in ibid., –.  Notes to pages –

 Ibid., –.  See his autobiographical work How I Became a Christian, originally published in Tokyo in . Its American edition is the following: Kanzō Uchimura, The Diary of a Japanese Convert (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, ).  See my article “Mediation between Cultures,” in Nitobe Inazô: Japan’s Bridge Across the Pacific, edited by John F. Howes (Boulder: Westview Press, ), –.  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid., . I have drawn upon my translation in my article “Why Do I Like Chamberlain Better Than Hearn?”, Hikaku Bunka, Institute for Comparative Studies of Culture, Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, , no.  (October ): .  Works, : .  Ibid., .  uoted without any correction exactly as the twelve-year-old Mieko wrote. The following is my translation of this passage: “Yesterday, we arrived in Paris at eleven o’clock in the evening, and we took a taxi to go to Hotel Champs-Elysées where we would stay. On the way, I saw a lot of illuminations. Sekiko was delighted by that. I also saw the building of Louvre Museum etc. Papa told me that, starting from Lyon Station to go to the hotel, we traversed seven-tenths of Paris. I watched all I could see with great interest. As I was very tired, I fell asleep immediately.”  Wakaki hi no nikki (Diary of Younger Days), in Works, Supplementary volume  (), .  It is also possible that Mieko intended to write five independent novels, each dealing with a stage of her life in chronological order.  “Autobiographical Fragments,” in Works, Appendix volume, .  Ibid. Notes to pages – 

 “Life on a Ship,” in Works, Appendix volume, .

CHAPTER THREE  Henreki (Wanderings), in Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), vol.  (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), .  “Fune no ue no seikatsu” (“Life on a Ship”), in Works, Appendix volume (), –.  “- Persons Who Entered or Departed from Japan by Nationality (– ),” in Japan Statistical Yearbook , Statistics Bureau/Statistical Research and Training Institute, Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, Japan (Japan Statistical Association, ), .  Shutsunyūkoku-kanri: Sono genjō to kadai (Tokyo: Hōmushō Nyūkoku-kanrikyoku, ), . I subtract from the figure of Japanese who went abroad that year the number of Japanese who only went to Okinawa, since Okinawa was returned to Japan and is now a part of Japan.  Ibid. The earliest year for which the number of Japanese going abroad is shown in Table - is , p..  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid.  This paragraph is based on Wanderings, in Works, : .  “Chronology,” in Works, Appendix volume, .  Ibid.  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid.  Works, Appendix volume, –.  Ibid., .  “Autobiographical Fragments,” in Works, Appendix volume, .  Notes to pages –

 Ibid.  Skiing and Mountain (i.e., mountaineering) are mentioned in the following one-line outline (in French) of a planned autobiographical novel about her brother Yōichi and herself titled “Keimai monogatari” (“The Story of a Brother and a Sister”) mentioned in Toba Mitsuko Notebook: “La jeunesse riche et vivante d’un frère et d’une soeur. Ski, Montagne, étude [The rich and lively adolescence of a brother and a sister. Skiing, mountain, study].”  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid., .  Ibid.  Ibid., .  Kamiya Mieko, Wakaki hi no nikki (Diary of Younger Days), in Works, Supplementary volume  (), –.  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid., .  There is a reference to the fact that Mieko’s parents went to the United States in the summer of  in Nomura Kazuhiko’s diary.  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid.  Mieko’s school composition “Ie ni kaette” (“Returning Home after Being Away”) in Works, Appendix volume, –, does give an impression that Mieko was a kind of mother figure for her younger siblings.  “Chinmoku no imi” (“Significance of Silence”) in Sonzai no omomi (The Weight of Existence), in Works, vol.  (), –.  Maeda Yōichi, the eldest son, refers to Mieko as “the oldest of my sisters to whom my father was the closest” in “Ko kara mita chichi” (“The Father Seen by His Son”), in Kankōsewanin, ed., Maeda Tamon: Sono bun sono hito (Tokyo: Tokyo Shisei Chōsakai, ), . Notes to pages – 

 Mieko discusses the significance of this letter in her two reminiscences of her father. See “Bōfu Maeda Tamon o kataru” (“My Late Father Maeda Tamon”), in Tabi ni techō yori (From My Travel Notebook), Works, vol.  (), , and “Chichi (Maeda Tamon) no ningenzō” (“My Father, Maeda Tamon, the Man”), in From My Travel Notebook, Works, : –.  “My Late Father Maeda Tamon” in Works, : . See also “My Father, Maeda Tamon, the Man,” in Works, : , and Wanderings, in Works, : –.  The college was called Joshi Eigaku Juku (Girls’ College of English Studies) when Mieko entered it in . It was in  that the name was changed to Tsuda College of English Studies.  Works, : .  Ibid., .  Ibid.  Ibid.  Ibid.  This remark of his, quoted in Mieko’s shuki of  January , was made in that year, more than ten years after Mieko’s student days at Tsuda College.  Works, Supplementary volume : .  Ibid., .

CH A PTER FOU R  Fujikura Shirō, Katakuri no muresaku koro no: Nomura Kodō Araebisu fujin Hana (Tokyo: Seiabō, ).  Matsuda Keiko zenshū (Tokyo: Ōzorasha, ).  Henreki (Wanderings), in Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), vol.  (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), .  Notes to pages –

 See the reference to Kazuhiko’s musical sense in Matsuda Tomoo, “Maeda Yōichi kun o shinobu” (“A Reminiscence of Maeda Yōichi”) in Maeda Yōichi: Sono hito sono bun (Tokyo: edited and published by “Maeda Yōichi: Sono hito sono bun” Henshū Kankō Iinkai, ), .  The fact that Yōichi played the flute is mentioned in Matsuda, “A Reminiscence of Maeda Yōichi,” in ibid., .  Ms Sumikawa Midori, the niece of Nomura Kazuhiko, kindly furnished me a copy of the pages of Nomura Kazuhiko’s diary that deal with Kazuhiko’s relationship with Mieko. My quotations from Kazuhiko’s diary in the following pages are from the photocopied pages of the original provided by Ms Sumikawa. Nomura Kazuhiko’s diary has recently become partially available in print in Nomura Kazuhiko, Au koto wa me de aishiau koto, awazu ni iru koto wa tamashii de aishiau koto (Kamakura, Japan: Minato-no-hito, ), –.  From the sentence “When our ship reached Japan, the Taishō Emperor died and a new era began” (Works, : ) in Kamiya’s autobiography, I surmise that they arrived in Japan on  December .  I do not know exactly when Kazuhiko became ill. It was not long after his elder sister died of tuberculosis on  August . Sumikawa Midori says that it was when Matsuda Keiko, Kazuhiko’s sister, was twelve (“Matsuda Keiko no aishita hitobito” (“People Whom Matsuda Keiko Loved”), in Matsuda Keiko zenshū, Appendix volume, . It must have been sometime in .  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Sumikawa, “People Whom Matsuda Keiko Loved,” in Matsuda Keiko zenshū, Appendix volume, .  The date of the marriage is taken from Fujikura, Katakuri no muresaku koro no, . Notes to pages – 

 ”Hitorigoto” (“Monologue”) in Kamiya Mieko: Hito to shigoto (Kamiya Mieko: Her Personality and Her Work), Works, Appendix volume (), .  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ikigai ni tsuite (What Makes Our Life Worth Living), in Works, vol.  (), .  Diary,  December , in Wakaki hi no nikki (Diary of Younger Days), Works, Supplementary volume  (), .  “Rai to watashi” (“Leprosy and I”) is a part of Ningen o mitsumete (Towards Understanding Man), Works, vol.  (), –.  Towards Understanding Man, in Works, : .  Ibid., .  We learn from Matsuda Keiko’s diary entry of  March  that Mieko was going to take thirteen examinations after that date (Matsuda Keiko zenshū, vol. , ).  Towards Understanding Man, in Works, : .  Diary of Younger Days, in Works, Supplementary volume , .  Wanderings, in Works, : .  “The Existence of a Man Placed in a Limit-Situation,” Confinia psychiatrica  (): .  uoted from her preface (dated  August ) to “Aiseien kengaku no ki” (“A Visit to the Aiseien Leprosarium”) as printed in Tabi no techō yori (From My Travel Notebook), in Works, : .  Towards Understanding Man, in Works, : .  Ibid.  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid., .  The following account is based on Wanderings, in Works, : – and Towards Understanding Man, in Works, : –.  Works, : .  Notes to pages –

           

     

Ibid., . Works, : . Works, : . Reproduced in “Kamiya Mieko arubamu” (“Kamiya Mieko Album”), in Works, Appendix volume. Works, : . Ibid., . Ibid. Ibid., . Works, : –. Ibid., . Utsuwa no uta (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), . Offprint of Confinia psychiatrica  (): . The offprint of this paper given to me by Prof. Noburō Kamiya contains a few minor grammatical corrections. I have quoted from the corrected version of this paper. Ibid. Works, : . “The Existence of a Man Placed in a Limit-Situation,” offprint of Confinia psychiatrica  (): . Works, : .  September , in “Monologue,” Works, Appendix volume, . Wanderings, in Works, : .

CHAPTER FIVE  Henreki (Wanderings), in Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), vol.  (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), . Notes to pages – 

 The date of her departure for the United States was taken from Sumikawa Midori, “Matsuda Keiko no aishita hitobito” (“People Whom Matsuda Keiko Loved”) in Matsuda Keiko zenshū (Tokyo: Ōzorasha, ), Appendix volume, .  Wanderings, in Works, : –.  Mieko’s shuki of  January  and  January .  In her letter of  November  to Kanazawa Tsuneo, Mieko says, “I have been auditing lectures at Columbia a little since roughly three weeks ago.” Nikki shokan shū (Selected Diary Entries and Letters), in Works, vol.  (), .  In her shuki of  April , Mieko says, “I attended Advanced Greek Course at Bryn Mawr for the first time.”  Wanderings, in Works, : .  Ibid., –.  Ibid., –.  Ibid., .  Mieko’s shuki of  December .  Mieko’s shuki of  January .  See Mieko’s shuki of  January  and  February , for example.  See also Mieko’s shuki of  March ,  April , and  May  for more information on their joint bird-watching walks.  Mieko’s shuki of  April .  Mieko’s shuki of  June .  See Mieko’s letter of  December  to Nomura Kodō and his wife, which is copied in her shuki of the same date.  See, for example, Mieko’s shuki of  April .  Both quotations taken from Mieko’s shuki of  May .  See Mieko’s shuki of  June . 

Notes to pages –

       

       

Mieko’s shuki of  June . Mieko’s shuki of  June . The original is in English. Mieko’s shuki of  June . The italicized part is in English in the original. uoted from the copy of this letter found among the Kamiya Papers. Mieko’s shuki of  April . Works, : . According to her autobiography, Wanderings, in Works, : , Caroline Graveson made her “ M” prediction about Mieko orally at the time when she was leaving the United States. However, her autobiography, completed decades later, is not as reliable on details as her notebook jottings or diaries. For example, in her autobiography she writes concerning her reunion with Caroline Graveson in London, “After we left Pendle Hill, I saw Caroline again only once at a London station – for mere five minutes or so.” However, Mieko’s shuki (partially quoted in the text) shows that she met her at the Friends’ House at : A .M . and then had lunch with her at a vegetarian restaurant before parting from her at a London station. Their reunion cannot have been “for mere five minutes or so.” Mieko’s shuki of  June . Works, : . Wanderings, in Works, : . Ibid., –. Ibid.,  and –. Ibid., . Ibid., . Despite the assertion in her autobiography that her resolution to study medicine had become firm before her arrival in New York (i.e. before  August  as her shuki shows) she was still debating the question. In her shuki of  Notes to pages – 


  

        

September  she wrote: “I have been giving a lot of thought to the question of studying medicine without arriving at any clear resolution.” On  October  Mieko’s mother and sister left New York to return to Japan (Mieko’s shuki of  October ). Her brother had left for Japan in February  (Mieko’s shuki of  February ). By the time she made a decision to study at Barnard College rather than at Bryn Mawr on  September , she knew that her father would be alone soon unless she changed her plan to study at Bryn Mawr (see Mieko’s shuki of  September ). Mieko’s shuki of  September . Mieko’s shuki of  November . In her shuki of  October  Mieko recorded: “In consultation with Papa, I have decided to give up medicine.” She reiterated the decision in her shuki of  January : “I reported to Father my decision ‘to give up medicine, stay here with Father at least until June [] and then return to Japan to get married,’ as if there were no room for any doubt.” Wanderings, in Works, : . Sumikawa, “People Whom Matsuda Keiko Loved,” Matsudea Keiko zenshū, Appendix volume, . Mieko mentions this in her letter of  December  to Nomura Kodō and Hana, copied into her shuki of the same date. Mieko’s shuki of  August  quotes two comments about her by two men, both of which emphasize her serenity. See her shuki of  July and  August . I will discuss Mieko’s relationship with T. after her return to Japan in the next chapter. See her shuki of  December . See her shuki of  December  for evidence of her interest in Ellis. Shuki of  November .  Notes to pages –

 Works, : .  Diary entry of  June , Wakaki hi no nikki (Diary of Younger Days), in Works, Supplementary volume  (), .  Ibid.  Mieko’s shuki of  December .  Her shuki of  December .  Her shuki of the same day ( December ).  Mieko corresponded with Mitani fairly regularly from , judging from his letters found among her papers, and occasionally saw him. Mieko’s profound respect for Mitani is reflected in her reminiscence of Mitani, “Mitani Sensei to no deai” (“My Enounter with Mr Mitani”), in Mitani Takamasa: Hito, shisō, shinkō, edited by Nanbara Shigeru, Takagi Yasaka, and Suzuki Toshirō (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, ), –.  Mieko’s shuki of  October .  Shuki of  December .  Diary of  December , in Works, Supplementary volume : .  Ibid.  A photocopy of the letter, which was written in English, was found among Mieko’s papers.  Works, : .  Ibid.  “Hitorigoto” (“Monologue”), in Kamiya Mieko: Hito to shigoto (Kamiya Mieko: Her Personality and Her Work), Works, Appendix volume (), –.

CHAPTER SIX  This date was taken from Akashi Miyo, “Omoide: Gakusei jidai no nikki kara” (“Reminiscences: Out of My Diaries of the Student Days”), in Kamiya Notes to pages – 

              

Mieko: Hito to shigoto (Kamiya Mieko: Her Personality and Her Work), Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), Appendix volume (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), . Nikki shokanshū (Selected Diary Entries and Letters), in Works, vol.  (), . See Maeda Tamon’s letter to Mieko of  May  among the Kamiya Papers. Akashi Miyo, “Reminiscences: Out of My Diary of the Student Days,” in Works, Appendix volume, –. The lecture took place in October . Diary,  June , in Wakaki hi no nikki (Diary of Younger Days), Works, Supplementary volume  (), . Diary,  June , in Works, Supplementary volume : . Diary,  June , in Works, : . Akashi Miyo, Osanaki kokoro no kiseki: Kyūdō no ayumi (Tokyo: Kindai Bungei Sha, ), –. Ibid., . Akashi, “Reminiscences: Out of My Diaries of the Student Days,” in Works, Appendix volume, . Diary,  November , in Works, Supplementary volume : . Diary,  November , in Works, : . Ibid. Works, : . Ibid., . In November  Mieko did not yet direct her criticisms towards the core of Christian teachings. We can see this from the following quotation from her shuki of  November : “The propagation of Christianity or ‘For the sake of the Gospel’ does not attract me at all as a cause. I have come to loathe even the mere use of Christian terms. I wonder if I am still a Christian. However,


Notes to pages –

such a question is a matter of no importance. I live in daily communion with God. There is no denying that that God is primarily the Heavenly Father revealed to me through Christ. Through Christ’s life I have been given a hope to receive His forgiveness and grace and am actually receiving them.” Mieko’s much more fundamental departure from Christian teachings in later years can be seen in the following: “The narrow-mindedness of people who believe that Christianity has a monopoly on truth is unbearable. It has its root in the exclusive attitude of Christ himself” (Diary,  June , in Works, : –). And much later: “The reason why I cannot be a ‘Christian’ is because Christ voluntarily embraced a death at the young age of thirty. At thirty you are at the peak of your power in body and mind. What a great difference separates your ideal at that age and your experience of prolonged illness and age which you have at the age of sixty-five! I would rather feel more attracted by Buddha – by thoughts born in your old age after you have experienced both the glory and vanity of human life” (Diary,  Janaury , in ibid., ). Mieko came to feel that Christianity was a mixed blessing for mankind. We can see this from the following quotation from her letter (written in English) of  March  to N., a photocopy of which can be found among her papers: “Loosely speaking, it seems to me there are both plus and minus in the appearance of Christianity in mankind’s history. The plus: more active concern in improving this earthly world, more pronounced humanity and philanthropy, clearer concept of charitas. The minus: rigid dogmas, the aggressiveness and exclusiveness in pursuing its aims on earth, the anthropocentrism which seems more and more untenable as our vistas, both cosmological and microbiological expand.”  Works, Supplementary volume : .  Ibid., –.

Notes to pages –


                       

Wanderings, in Works, : . Ibid. Sonzai no omomi (The Weight of Existence), in Works, vol.  (), . Works, Supplementary volume : . Ibid., . Ibid. What I have paraphrased in English is roughly the first half of the poem. Ibid., . Ibid., . Ibid., . Ibid., . Ibid., . Diary,  January , in ibid., . Diary,  September , in ibid., . Diary,  August , in ibid., . Diary,  August , in ibid., . Diary,  May , in Works, : . Diary,  May , in Works, Supplementary volume : . Diary,  June , in ibid., . Diary,  November , in ibid., . Diary,  November , in Works, : . Ibid., . Ibid. Diary,  July , in Works, Supplementary volume : . About the oral promise to work at Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium, see Ningen wo mitsumete (Towards Understanding Man), in Works, vol.  (), . Wanderings, in Works, : , contains more or less the same thing concerning the promise.  Works, : . See also Works, : .  Notes to pages –

 Oswald Bumke, Lehrbuch der Geisteskrankheiten, fourth edition (Munich: Bergmann, ).  Works, Supplementary volume : .  Ibid., . Among the topics she considered were the “development of psychiatry,” “the history of developoment of ideas concerning mental illness,” “the history of development of institutions for mental illness,” and “the concept of mental illness in Hippocrates.”  Diary,  December , in ibid., .  Diary,  December , in ibid., .  Diary,  December , in ibid., .  Diary,  December , in ibid., .  Diary,  September , in ibid., .  Diary,  January , in Works, : .  Diary,  May , in ibid., .  Ogawa Masako, Kojima no haru (Tokyo: Nagasaki Shoten, ). The publication figures are based on Mitsuda Kensuke, Aiseien nikki: Rai to tatakkata -nen no kiroku (Aiseien Diary: Records of Sixty Years’ Battle against Leprosy) (Tokyo: Mainichi Shinbunsha, ), .  “Hitorigoto” (“Monologue”), in Works, Appendix volume, –. The quoted passage is dated  May .  Diary,  February , in Works, Supplementary volume : .  Works, : –.  See “Kokoro ni nokoru hitobito,” in The Weight of Existence, Works, : – for Mieko’s account of her relationship with Y. My account of her relationship with Y. is based on this essay and her references to Y. contained in her shuki and her published diary.  Works, : –. This interview took place on  June  (see her shuki of that date). Notes to pages – 

          

Diary,  February , in Works, Supplementary volume : . Diary,  February , in ibid., . Ibid., . This is how this poem written in Japanese begins. Diary,  December , in Works, Supplementary volume : –. Diary,  June , in Works, : . Diary,  December , in Works, Supplementary volume : –. Diary,  April , in ibid., –. Ibid., . Works, : . See note  in my introduction.

CHAPTER SEVEN  Diary,  October , in Wakaki hi no nikki (Diary of Younger Days), in Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), Supplementary volume  (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), –.  Ibid., .  Diary,  July , in ibid., .  Diary,  November , in ibid., .  Diary,  June , in Nikki shokan shū (Selected Diary Entries and Letters), in Works, vol.  (), –.  Diary,  March , in ibid., .  Works, Supplementary volume : .  See the diary entry of  May , in ibid., –.  Ibid., .  Ibid., .


Notes to pages –

                

Ibid., . Diary,  July , in ibid., . Ibid. Diary,  May , in ibid., . Ibid. Ibid., . Diary,  November , in ibid., . Ibid., . Diary,  February , in ibid., . Diary,  April , in ibid., . Ibid., . Ibid. Ibid., . The original is in English in Mieko’s shuki of  December . Reported in her diary,  December , in Works, : . Diary,  December , in ibid., . We can gather from Mieko’s shuki of  April  that Uraguchi Masa loved Noburō but that her love was unrequited.  Mieko probably met Noburō for the first time on  January  (see her shuki of that date). However, Mieko had heard about him from Uraguchi Masa and very likely also from her father already in September  when Noburō arrived in the United States after giving up his studies in Germany due to the outbreak of World War II . See Kamiya Noburō, Saibō no fushigi (Osaka: Burēn Sentā, ), –.  Works, Supplementary volume : .  Based on Mieko’s description of the meeting of  January in her shuki of  January .

Notes to pages – 

    

Diary,  May , in Works, : . Ibid. Diary,  May , in ibid., : . Diary,  May , in ibid., –. Ibid., .

CHAPTER EIGHT  Kamiya Noburō, Saibō no fushigi (Osaka: Burēn Sentā, ), .  Ibid., .  Diary,  May , in Nikki shokan shū (Selected Diary Entries and Letters), Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), vol.  (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), .  Henreki (Wanderings), in Works, vol.  (), .  Kamiya Noburō, Saibō no fushigi, .  Tazawa Masashi, “Chōji” (“A Memorial Address”) in Kamiya Mieko: Hito to shigoto (Kamiya Mieko: Her Personality and Her Work), Works, Appendix volume (), .  Diary,  October , in Works, : .  Diary,  August , in ibid., .  Works, :  and –.  Works, : –.  Works, : .  See Mieko’s diary for  June , in Works, : .  Ningen wo mitsumete (Towards Understanding Man), in Works, vol.  (),  and , and Works, : .  About this visit see Works, : – and .

 Notes to pages –

 Kamiya Mieko Uraguchi Masa ōfuku shokanshū (Selected Letters Exchanged between Kamiya Mieko and Uraguchi Masa), in Works, Supplementary volume  (), –.  See Works, : –.  “Rai to watakushi” (“Leprosy and I”), in Works, : –.  Works, : .  Works, : .  Diary,  January , in ibid., .  Ibid., .  Diary,  September , in ibid., .  Works, : . Mieko writes as if she taught six hours every Saturday at Tsuda College, but on this point, Ejiri Mihoko, Kamiya Mieko (Tokyo: Shimizu Shoin, ), , seems to give us more reliable information. She taught six hours a day, but her teaching days were ten days a year.  See Works, : – and Ejiri, Kamiya Mieko, –, about Mieko as a Professor of Tsuda College.  Mieko was hospitalized for a heart attack in August . In the following autumn she was hospitalized for suspected cerebral thrombosis. Thus began the last period of her life in which she was repeatedly hospitalized – “seventeen times” until her death, according to Kamiya Noburō, “Kamiya Mieko: Ningen to shite tsuma to shite,” in Works, Appendix volume, . Mieko’s published letters and diary entries of the last years occasionally contain references to her illness. See also Kamiya Nagako, “Atogaki,” in Vājinia Urufu kenkyū (Studies on Virginia Woolf ), in Works, vol.  (), –.  Akashi Miyo, “Omoidasu mamani,” in Kamiya Mieko chosakushū geppō, no.  (March ): .  Kamiya Noburō, “Atogaki,” in Works, : .

Notes to pages –


CHAPTER NINE  Kokoro no tabi ( Journey of the Mind), Kamiya Mieko chosakushū (Collected Works of Kamiya Mieko), vol.  (Tokyo: Misuzu Shobō, ), .  Diary,  September , in Nikki shokan shū (Selected Diary Entries and Letters), Works, vol.  (), .  Kamiya Mieko: Hito to shigoto (Kamiya Mieko: Her Personality and Her Work), in Works, Appendix volume (), .  As we saw in chapter , Mieko admitted this in her shuki of  January .  uoted in Mita Munesuke, Miyazawa Kenji: Sonzai no matsuri no naka e (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, Dōjidai Raiburarī , ), . Shinkōhon Miyazawa Kenji zenshū, vol. , Shokan honbunhen (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, ), –.  Tsurumi Shunsuke, “Shinwateki jikan,” in Tsurumi Shunsuke et al., Shinwateki Jikan, edited by Yokota Sachiko (Kumamoto: Kumamoto Kodomo no Hon no Kenkyūkai, ), –. As the cited place suggests, Tsurumi Shunsake, though born into a very respectable family, had been almost a juvenile delinquent until he was sent to the United States at the age of fifteen. For him to be treated as an equal by a person like Mieko was a novel experience. He seems to have sensed in Mieko someone who could treat everyone impartially as an equal, even a murderer. As for the eventful life of Tsurumi, one of the most prominent intellectuals of post-World War II Japan, see Tsurumi Shunsuke, Ueno Chizuko, and Oguma Eiji, Sensō ga nokoshita mono: Tsurumi Shunsuke ni sengo sedai ga kiku (Tokyo: Shinyōsha, ).  Diary,  March , in Works, : .  Diary,  February , in ibid., .  Kamiya Noburō, “Atogaki,” in Works, : .  Works, : .

 Notes to pages –


Abe Yoshishige,  Akashi Miyo, –,  Athénée Français, – “The Attitude of Christian Faith,” ,  Barnard College: Mieko and premedical program there, ; her withdrawal from it, –; her plan to take course in Greek at,  Bergson, Henri, Matière et Mémoire,  Blackwell, Dr Elizabeth, Pioneer Work for Women,  Brinton, Howard,  Buddha, n Bumke, Oswald, , , , n celibacy, as an ideal: Mieko’s decision to abandon, , ; her revival of the ideal, –; two kinds of celibate women, – Chamberlain, Basil Hall, –, n Christianity: Mieko’s changing attitude towards and fundamental departure from, in later years, –n; move away from non-Church Christianity, –. See also non-church Christianity

p p p p p p p

Clark, William S.,  Dalton Plan,  Department of Psychiatry, Tokyo University Hospital. See Tokyo University Hospital Diary of Younger Days, The (Wakaki hi no nikki), xxi Dora Wilson,  Dupuy, Mr, ; his parting gift,  École Internationale de Genève, , , ; Mieko’s performance at,  Ejiri, Mihoko, xii Ellis, Havelock,  eternity,  “Existence of a Man Placed in a Limit-Situation: An Anthropological Analysis of a Paranoid Case in a Leprosarium,” ; comparison of Mieko with the patient-subject of the paper, – February  Incident of , – “First Frost” (“Hatsushimo”), xx, xxi

flower arrangement,  Foucault, Michel, xi French: replacement of Japanese as Mieko’s first language,  Fujii, Takeshi, ; “The Marriage of the Lamb” (“Hitsuji no konin”), : influence on Mieko and her decision to remain single,  God: Mieko’s definition of, ,  Goldberry, A.J., – Grand Canyon,  Graveson, Caroline: her prediction about Mieko’s future, – Haga, Tōru, vii Hani, Motoko, – “A Haunted Pool” (“Ma no fuchi”), xix Hellenic spirit,  Hilty, Carl (–),  Hoffmann, Hermann, –: importance of Das Problem der Characteraufbaus for Mieko’s selfunderstanding, – Hoshino Ai: an interview with, –; disapproval of Mieko’s aspiration to work with lepers, 

 Index

Institut Jean-Jacques Rousseau: private elementary school attached to, ,  Japanese; number who departed from Japan, ,  Japanese culture: Mieko’s renewed interest in,  Japanese preoccupation with upholding Japan’s honour, , ; Mieko’s reaction to it, , – Jaspers, Karl,  Jiyū Gakuen, –; Mieko’s refusal to continue to attend,  Kakinoki, Hide, n Kamiya, Mieko: ; affirmation of inner fate, –; and Amor fati, –; awareness of her difference from others, –, ; behaviour towards her admirers, , ; cancer, , ; celebrity, , ; correcting English writings of her husband and his students, ; and demons, xiii, , ; her discomfort at occupying a privileged position, ; disparity

between promise and achievement, xxii; effect of sojourn in West on, –; and eldest-daughter personality, ; emergence of Mieko’s introspective side, –; fund for research from the legacy of her father-in-law, ; girlhood, as characterized in four key phrases, –; growing acceptance of herself, –, ; health problems in her last years, , n; image of happiness and its destruction through Nomura Kazuhiko’s death, –; impartiality, , n; inner isolation, –; interest in sports, ; longing for death, ; marriage, xxiii, contradictory attitude towards, , , to Kamiya Noburō, –, –, –, –; medicine: and literature as twin pursuits, , revival of aspiration to study, , as told in her autobiography, –, , temporary decision to give it up, n; mental illness, symptoms of, ; misgivings about human relationships, ; her par-

Index 

ents, disharmony between, –, –, personality traits inherited from, ; her paternal grandfather, ; premedical student at Columbia University, , ; preparations for leaving ordinary world, –; reflection on chaos and the power that controls chaos, –; relationship with H., –; selfperception, , –, , – , –, –, , ; sense of inferiority, ; sexuality, discovery of its power, , , and her own sexual attractiveness, ; smooth adaptation to Geneva, ; study of Greek in the United States, –, ; substitute mother, for younger siblings, –, n; suicide, temptation of, xix; Switzerland: adjustment to Japanese life and language after Swiss days, , reaction to imminent move to, ; on tragic aspect of love, ; translating Greek tragedies, ; translator and interpreter for the ministry of Education, ; trip to France, , and personal crisis upon return, , –; view of the woman’s mis-

sion in life, ; What Makes Our Life Worth Living, xvii–xviii. See also celibacy, Christianity, leprosy, mysticism, Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium, Nomura Kazuhiko, Pendle Hill, psychiatry, Tokyo University Hospital, Tokyo Women’s Medical College, Tsuda College, tuberculosis, war, writing Kamiya Mieko Tokyo Kenkyūkai, n Kamiya Papers, xxiii,  Kamiya, Noburō, vii, , , n; response to Mieko’s past love for Nomura Kazuhiko, – Kanazawa, Tsunao (maternal uncle), –; disapproval of Mieko’s relationship with Nomura, Kazuhiko, – Kierkegaard, Sören,  Kinoshita Mokutaro. See Ōta Masao Kobe College (Kōbe Jogakuin Daigaku),  Kretschmer, Ernst,  Kurosaki, Kokichi, ,  leprosy: Mieko’s first encounter with, –; Mieko’s motivation

 Index

for working with leprosy patients, xiii, xvi, –; revival of interest in, –; her sense of identity with them, –, ; service to lepers as a new raison de vivre, ; “To a Leper” (“Raisha ni”),  “Life on a Ship” (“Fune no ue no seikatsu”), ,  “Line,” – Luther, Martin,  Maeda Yōichi (Mieko’s brother), , , ; intimate friend of Nomura Kazuhiko’s, – Maeda, Fusako (née Kanazawa), Mieko’s mother, , ; absence in Mieko’s early childhood, ; lack of understanding for Mieko after Nomura Kazuhiko’s death, ; Mieko’s description of her personality,  Maeda, Tamon (Mieko’s father), , , ; appointed director of Japan Institute in New York, –; appointed minister of education, ; Mieko’s description of his personality, ; Mieko’s intimacy with, , , n; Mieko’s quarrel

with him in America, –, ; opposition to Mieko’s plan to study medicine and work for lepers, – Maine de Biran, Marie-FrançoisPierre,  Manchurian Incident,  Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, xi,  Matsuda, Keiko (née Nomura), –,  Matsuda, Tomoo, ; marriage with Nomura Toshiko,  Matsumoto, Takashi (Mieko’s paternal uncle),  Matsuo, Bashō,  Matsuzawa Hospital, – Mitani, Takamasa, , , n Miyabara, Yasuharu, n Miyamoto, Yuriko (née Nakajō), her novel Nobuko, – Miyazawa Kenji, , , ; rejection of special love towards particular individuals,  “Monologue” (“Hitorigoto”),  mysticism, early signs of, during Mieko’s Swiss days, –; and salvation from despair after Kazuhiko’s death, –. See also tuberculosis

Index 

Nagashima Aiseien Leprosarium, –, ; Mieko’s continued connection with the leprosarium until , –; research project at, – Nagayo, Yoshirō,  Nakahara Chūya’s “Crazy Thought on a Spring Day” (“Shunjitsu kyōsō”), xviii–xix Nakanishi, Kukuko,  Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, ,  Nightingale, Florence,  Nitobe, Inazō, –; arranged the marriage between Mieko’s parents, ; effect of sojourn in West on, ; Maeda Tamon’s relationship to, –; visits to Mieko’s house in her childhood,  Noguchi, Hedeyo,  Nomura, Hana, xix, , –; biography,  Nomura Kazuhiko, xvi–xvii, , , ; contracting tuberculosis, ; and ensemble for chamber music, ; impact of his death on Mieko and her slow recovery from

it, xvi–xvii, , –, –, –, –; Kanazawa Bible Study Group, ; Mieko’s mother’s discouragement of his relationship with Mieko, –; overview of his relationship with Mieko, –; real nature of relationship with Mieko, –; in poem by Mieko, – Nomura Kodō, xix, , – Nomura, Toshiko,  non-church Christianity, –; confusion of Mieko’s values caused by her association with, ; separation from the group presided over by Kanazawa Tsuneo, –. See also Christianity Obara, Kuniyoshi, ; advocacy of “whole-person education,”  Ogawa, Masako, ; Spring of a Little Island (Kojima no haru),  Ōta, Masao,  Ota, Yuzo, –n, n, n, n Parkhurst, Helen, 

 Index

Pendle Hill College, ; friendships there, –, –; Mieko’s initial evaluation of, – Piaget, Jean,  Plato’s Republic psychiatry, attractive qualities of, , –; as help to Mieko’s self-understanding, –, and for understanding of life and man, ; Mieko’s switch to, – Sacred Heart Girls’ School, – Sapporo Band, – “A School Excursion” (“Ensoku”),  Schopenhauer, Arthur,  Schweizer, Albert, xvi, ,  Seijō Higher Girls’ School (Seijō Kōtō Jogakkō), – Shimazaki Toshiki, – Shimazaki Tōson, xxi, , , ,  Shimo-Ochiai Primary School,  Simone Weil, xii–xiii, n social segregation: of the sexes in Japan,  “My School in Geneva” (“Jeneva no gakkō”), , 

“A Song of a Vessel” (“Utsuwa no uta”), – Spranger, Edward, –; Mieko’s reading of his Lebensformen: Geisteswissenschaftliche Psychologie und Ethik der Persönlichkeit, –; her use of his personality types, – sublimation, , , ; Miyazawa Kenji as a model of successful, , ,  Sumikawa, Midori, vii, n T., , ; Mieko’s meeting with, shortly after her arrival in the US , ; question of marriage with, – Takashima, Shigetaka,  Tayama, Katai,  tea ceremony,  teaching foreign languages, ; as Mieko’s curse,  Toba Mitsuko Notebook, xiv, n Tokyo University Hospital, Department of Psychiatry: idolization of Mieko by young doctors at, –, –; Mieko’s first visit

Index 

to, ; Mieko’s problems with her supervisor, –, with an envious colleague, , with Mr R., – Tokyo Women’s Medical College, ; classmates, –; Mieko’s delay in commencing her studies there, –, Tsuda College, ; Mieko as professor at, ; her teaching there, , n Tsuda, Umeko,,  Tsukamoto, Toraji,  tuberculosis, Mieko’s fight against, –; mystical experience during, –; nursing her TB at Karuizawa, –; pneumothorax treatment, ; qualifying as English teacher while sick, ; recovery and relapse, –; study of great books and classical Greek, – Turumi, Shunsuke, vii–viii, xvi, n Uchimura Kanzō, , , ; effect of Western sojourn on, ; Maeda Tamon’s relationship to,  Uchimura Yūshi,  

University of Tokyo. See Tokyo University Hospital Uraguchi, Masa, , , n Urmutter (archetypal mother), , –n vamp, , – Van Gogh exhibition (Kyoto), – Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, – “Virginia Woolf: An Outline of a Study of Her Personality, Illness and Work,” n Wanderings (Henreki), xv, ; inadequacy and occasional unreliability as a source for Mieko’s life, n., n, n war, ; destruction of Tokyo by air raids, –; the end of war, –; relatively minor inner impact of, on Mieko, – What Makes Our Life Worth Living (Ikigai ni tsuite), xi, xv, xvi, , ; writing of, – “whole-person education” (zenjin kyōiku), ; its effect on Mieko, ; Mieko’s mother’s support for,  Index

writing: desire to write, ; devotion to writing in last years, –; early passion for, ; lack of inborn talent for, ; as a mission for Kamiya, xiv–xv, –; urge to write as medical student, –

Y., –; introduction of Mieko to Shimazaki Toshiki,  Yanaihara, Tadao,  Yoshioka, Yayoi,  Zen,  “Zushi,” –

Index 