Around the World in 35 Days, Part 1

NAOMI J. WILLIAMS

Yosano Akiko

The subject of my next novel, another historical project about an epic journey, is the Japanese poet and feminist Yosano Akiko (1878-1942).

In 1912, at the age of 33, Akiko left her home in Tokyo and traveled by herself to Paris. This alone was unusual enough. Ever since the 1880s, a stream of Japanese artists and intellectuals had been making their way to the West, some to Europe, some to the U.S., but very few of those travelers were women. And fewer yet traveled alone. (In fact, I don’t know of any Japanese women before Akiko who traveled alone outside of Japan; if any of my readers know of precursors, please let me know!)

Akiko was, moreover, a married woman with seven children, all under age ten. Her husband Hiroshi (also known as Tekkan), a high-maintenance individual who was a poet of less renown than his wife, was…

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