Episode 8: Meiji Literature and Japan’s Most Famous Literary Cat

In this 1874 print by Kyōsai, Japanese yōkai adapt to the modern era.
via the Museum of International Folk Art

Check out Episode 8 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

In this episode, we’re looking at the Meiji Era of Japanese history and its literature.

The shogunate is replaced.

Japan looks outward to the West and inward toward itself.

And a man named Natsume Sōseki chronicles it all from the perspective of a stray cat.

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I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki

Kusamakura by Natsume Soseki

More by Soseki:

Find Out More

A synopsis of I am a Cat via Somesmart.com

The Meiji at 150 Project at UBC

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Linfamy’s Japanese History and Folktales YouTube Channel

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

  • 17: The Meiji Restoration

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Selected Sources

Fujii, James A. “Contesting the Meiji Subject: Sōseki’s Neko Reconsidered” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1989.

Kenne, Donald. “Natsume Sōseki” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., Columbia, 1999.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

McClellan, Edwin. “An Introduction to Sōseki” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1959.

McKinney, Meredith. “Introduction” in Kusamakura. Penguin Classics, 2008.

Fillmore, Millard. Letter to the Emperor of Japan, 13 November 1852.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 4th ed. OUP, 2019.

Nathan, Richard. Soseki’s Cat: A Quantum Leap for Japanese Literature at RedCircleAuthors.com, 2021.

Perry, Matthew C. Letter to the Emperor of Japan, 14 July 1853.

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