Soseki Natsume’s Grave: My Experience at Zoshigaya Cemetery

Soseki Natsume grave
Soseki Natsume's grave.

Soseki Natsume. He was a giant of the literary world. I only read one of his books. It was Bochan. To be honest, I don’t remember much of it as I read it when I studied Japanese at Kumon. That was a long time ago! Reading more of his material is on my bucket list, but like many things, I never get around to doing it. But I do run into him from time to time.

His grave is in Tokyo. You can find it at Zoshigaya Cemetery, near Ikebukuro. He would have approved of it, I’m sure. It’s big, but not overly so. Soseki often has visitors. He is easy to find as he is #39 on the map that you can get at the administration office.

Many other famous people lie near him. Hideki Tojo is only a short walk away. Lafcadio Hearn is near too. He is not alone. Actually, quite a few cats are there to keep him company. Maybe they love being near the writer of I am a Cat?

Natsume in kanji on grave inscription
Natsume written in kanji.

I must admit I don’t go there often, maybe twice a year lately. But I always drop by and say hello to Soseki. Of course, I take a few photos as well. One time, a family group arrived at the same time.

The grandmother started talking to me. She seemed surprised to know he was so well-known overseas. Suddenly she reached out and grabbed my hand. She wrapped her Buddhist prayer beads around it and implored me to pray. 

If you didn’t know, I’m somewhere between atheist and agnostic. On New Year’s I’ll go to a shrine because I enjoy the experience, but I won’t pray. It’s not my thing. But this lady caught me off-guard. I’ll put it down as one of those, “Only in Japan” experiences.

Anyway, if you are ever near Zoshigaya Cemetery, please drop in and see Soseki. He is a giant of the literary world. Some of his books include:

  • Bochan
  • I am a Cat
  • Kokoro

Natsume’s birth name was Kinnosuke. He started using Soseki after his friend Masaoka Shiki tutored him in haiku. In Chinese, it meant stubborn.

Soseki was one of the giants of literature. Even though he died in 1916, he still influences the modern world. His works have been printed in many languages. Haruki Murakami is on record as saying that Natsume was his favorite writer.

Anyway, please read my Zoshigaya Cemetery article. You’ll find the link below. And if you are a Soseki Natsume fan, let me know. Maybe you could convince me to read more of his books.

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