My second day in Matsuyama, and I have been pondering the friendship between Soseki Natsume. and Shiki Masaoka.
Soseki is the father of modern Japanese literature, and Shiki is the founder of modern Haiku poems.
Shiki was born in Matsuyama, and Soseki came to teach in the city after graduating from University of Tokyo. Soseki based his novel Botchan on his experiences in this southern city on the Shikoku island.
That Soseki and Shiki both went on to achieve great things in literature is not independent of their friendship. Soseki and Shiki knew each other in the preparatory school for the university already. They exchanged views on literature. Soseki wrote many Haiku poems which Shiki read and made comments on. During a particularly intensive period of 50 days, Soseki and Shiki stayed at the same house, now reconstructed in a park in Matsuyama.
The friendship between people of the same sex is one of the most beautiful things in life. Records suggest that Shiki and Soseki were attracted to each other from the beginning, acknowledging the special qualities of the counterpart.
Shiki died at the premature age of 35. Three years later, Soseki wrote his first novel "I am a cat". Shiki had an ambition to be a novelist himself, but his short life under the shadows of tuberculosis did not allow a full development of his aspirations.
One could only imagine how Soseki felt as he looked back on his soul mate, who shared literary ambitions in the youth.
Soseki himself died at the age of 49. His last novel, Mei an (Light and Darkness) , was left unfinished.