Lafcadio Hearn and Wenceslau de Moraes in Japan

Lafcadio Hearn

  Turning the page to a new chapter after more than 20 years in the United States, Hearn, on April 4, 1890, at last landed at Yokohama, gateway to the country, which had long been his dream. Through the kind officer of Mr. Ichizo Hattori, director of the Educational Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Education, whom he had met in New Orleans, Hearn obtained positions as an English teacher at a normal school and a junior high school under the old education system in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, arriving there on August 30. Much admired by his students, Hearn soon married the daughter of Setsu Koizumi, a samurai descendent, and the two had a son.

  The cold winters in Matsue were hard on Hearn, and he and his family moved in 1891 to Kumamoto, where he again found employment as a teacher, at Kumamoto Goko, on the introduction of his friend Basil Hall Chamberlain, then teaching at Tokyo Imperial University.

  From Kumamoto, in 1892-1894, Hearn traveled frequently throughout the country - from Hakata, Dazaifu and Nagasaki in Kyushu, to Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Oki, Kagawa and Tokyo - trying to understand Japan's climate and geography as well as its cultural traditions. He had personal difficulties in Kumamoto, however - bad human relationships - and did not remain beyond his three-year contract.

  In 1894, Hearn and his family moved to Kobe. In Kobe, hired by Robert Young, owner of The Kobe Chronicle, Hearn, his journalistic skills having been refined in the United States, wrote editorials for the English-language newspaper. Blind since boyhood in his left eye, however, he was soon obliged to quit the Chronicle because of the burden the work placed on his remaining eye.

  In January, 1896, Hearn became a naturalized Japanese citizen, taking the name Yakumo Koizumi. In August, he began teaching English literature at Tokyo Imperial University, again winning the admiration of his many students. But he was unhappy with the employment policies of the university and, when his contract expired in 1903, he declined to renew it. In April, 1904, he was invited by Shigenobu Okuma, founder of Waseda University, to become a professor there. Hearn accepted, but died of a heart attack on September 26.

Wenceslau de Moraes

  Moraes first came to Japan in August, 1889. In 1893, as second in command at Macao, he visited Nagasaki, Kobe and Yokohama to purchase weapons, and again each year for the same purpose through 1897. With a Portuguese consulate soon to be established in Kobe, Moreas showed interest in the post. But during his 1898 annual visit to Japan, he was relieved of his duties in Macao and ordered to return to Portugal. Soon, however, through the efforts of friends at home, he was back in Japan, in Kobe, as consular agent at the deputy consulate in Kobe-Osaka. In 1899, the office was elevated in status to consulate, and Moraes became the first consul.

  Moraes avoided the foreign community in Kobe, preferring to visit temples and shrines. He began living with a woman, Yone Fukumoto, in 1900. With her the next year, he made his first visit to Tokushima, her home, where Moraes would eventually die.

  As consul, Moraes was responsible for the Portuguese pavilion at the Fifth Domestic Industrial Exposition in 1903. With the cooperation of Portuguese producers and merchants, he exhibited wine and olive oil, and generally helped acquaint the Japanese with his country.

  In 1910, a military revolt ended Portugal’s monarchy and a republic was proclaimed. When remittances to the consulate were disrupted, Moraes used his own money to try to bring it through the hard times. In 1912, Yone passed away. The following year Moraes resigned as consul general and moved to Tokushima. There he focused on writing, living with a woman named Koharu Saito, with whom he had a son, Asaichi, in 1915. But Koharu died the next year, and Asaichi in 1918. Though alone and lonely, Moraes literary output did not suffer. He continued to send manuscripts to Portugal for publication.

  At home on the evening of June 30, 1929, having drunk too much, Moraes stumbled, fell to the floor, struck something, and died.

"Contact" between Hearn and Moraes in Kyoto

  Mr. Yasuyuki Kajitani, former president of this university, explored the “contact” between Hearn and Moraes and published his findings in Nos. 10 and 11 of the “Collection of Papers of Kyoto University of Foreign Studies.”

  His study concerned the Otsu Incident, of May 11, 1891. During a visit to the city of Otsu, near Kyoto, the Russian crown prince was attacked by a policeman assigned to protect him, and injured. A Japanese woman then took her own life to apologize for the act of another Japanese. Her name was Yuko Hatakeyama. Mr. Kajitani wrote: “The Meiji Emperor had gone to Kyoto to call on the injured crown prince, and was to stay there through May 21. On May 20, in the evening, in front of the Kyoto Government Office Building, a young woman spread a white sheet on the ground and died with tragic bravery. With her knees tied, she cut her carotid artery with a razor, leaving ten letters, to Russian government officials, the Japanese government, her mother and others.” The body was taken to Makkei Temple in Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, where, through the kindness of the head priest, Junzen Wada, it was respectfully buried.

  Hearn was in Shimane Prefecture when the incident took place. He seems then to have been asked by prefectural authorities to draft a sympathy cable to the Czar. Deeply moved by the act of Yuko Hatakeyama, he wrote about the incident, visited Makkei Temple in 1895 to express his sorrow over her death, and told her story in Out of the East and Gleanings in Buddha-Fields.

  Moraes visited Yuko Hatakeyama’s grave in 1907, three years after the death of Hearn, and learned from the priest, Wada, of Hearn’s feelings. Moraes exchanged frequent letters with the priest, contributed an article about Hatakeyama to the magazine Serões, published in Lisbon, and recounted the course of events in his own book Os serões no Japão

  Mr. Jorge Dias, a former professor of this university, wrote in his biography of Moraes, O sonho do Oriente, that “Hearn was the writer whom Moraes most loved and respected.” Moraes said he had always admired Hearn as a fellow Westerner devoted to Japanese studies. Moraes then closed out his own life 25 years after Hearn’s death.

  In this way, Hearn and Moraes came - via the Makkei Temple and Yuko Hatakeyama, who sacrificed her life to try to apologize for the Otsu Incident - to the same recognition of how the Japanese mind works. Although there was no physical contact between them, the two shared a point of view on Japanese culture and a way of thinking different from that of the Western world.


  In Japanese, the name “Hearn” is phonetically rendered as “he-ru-n,” or he is referred to by his Japanese name (family name first), Koizumi Yakumo. In this exhibition, we use only “Lafcadio Hearn” or “Hearn.” “Moraes” is similarly “mo-ra-e-su” in Japanese. We use only “Wenceslau de Moraes” or “Moraes.”

  Since the library began collecting materials on Hearn and Moraes, we have created summaries and explanations of them. In preparing a catalogue for the exhibition, we edited these slightly and added English translations.

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