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A prodigy who is not only good at poetry, but also singing and lyric writing. He has many disciples who admire his diverse talents and so flocked to him, but he assumes an air of indifference about it. He hates being criticized and ordered around, and he himself says he will not forgive those who criticizes his sense of aesthetic. In contrast to his arrogant attitude, he is not afraid to work extraordinarily hard in order to be the best.


  • His real name is Kitahara Ryuukichi.
  • Hakushuu was the eldest son of a prominent family in Yanagawa and two of his younger brothers - Tetsuo and Yoshio - became important in the world of literature as the presidents of two major publishing firms.[1]
  • In 1901 Hakushuu and his friends started they own small magazine - Hobun - for private circulation. They decided to use pen names which would consist of the character haku (白) plus another character to be decided by lots. Hakushuu drew the character shuu (秋), producing the name by which he would be know in literary circles. [1]
  • Around the time he was in the English Literature department of Waseda University, he changed his pen name in Kitahara Shasui. He, Wakayama Bokusui and Nakabayashi Sosui were called "The Three Waters of Waseda", for the kanji 水 (sui) in their names meaning water. [3]
  • In March 1904, one of his best friend, Nakajima Tetsuo, committed suicide. Hakushuu wrote a long shi of over 400 lines, Rinka no Mokusou dedicated to Nakajima, who in his farawell letter encouraged him to pursue a career in poetry, a dream they had both cherished.
    The April issue of the magazine Library of Literature devoted the whole shi section to Rinka no Mokusou, drawing attention to the young poet.[1]
  • Hakushuu and Miki Rofuu formed what is called the "Hakuro Era" in the late modern Japanese poetry scene. [4]
  • In 1906 he received a postcard from Yosano Tekkan, the leader of the Shinshisha (New Poetry Association) and the editor of the tanka magazine Myoujou (Morning Star). Tekkan was urging him to join his association in a poetic manner.[1]
  • During this time, Hakushuu was more interested in shi, but he also wrote tanka; more than 180 verses in this form can be found in Myoujou.
  • His first book of poetry was Jashuumon (Heretics), which established his reputation.
  • In 1908 he founded, with Yoshii Isamu and others, the Pan no Kai in opposition to the Naturalism that dominated the literary circles at that time and which was innovative in including painters, musicians and actors as well as writers.
    This art salon was fashioned after Le Chat Noir in Paris. The members met at a restaurant, which had a picture of the Greek god Pan, to discuss the art and literature of Edo Japan and of France.[5]

  • In July of 1918 Suzuki Miekichi launched a children's literary magazine titled Akai Tori: his goal was to offer enrichment to children's lives through creative arts. Hakushuu was made the editor for the poetry that appeared in the magazine.[6]
  • He introduced a new symbolic, decadent style into the genre of the traditional 31-syllable tanka and founded an innovative tanka magazine, titled Tama.
  • In 1940 he was elected a member of the Academy of Arts of Japan.
  • He published a total of over 200 books within his lifetime. These included large collections of children’s poems, and as he continued to experiment with his style, anthologies inspired by classical Japanese literature. He also write anthems for high schools around the country such as Touyou Eiwa Jogakuin.
  • In celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth, Kitahara Hakushuu Memorial Park (consisting of his birthplace and a museum) was opened in 1985. Constructed right beside the house where he was born, the museum’s first floor displays materials relating to the history and folklore of Yanagawa’s riverside district, while the second floor is dedicated to Kitahara Hakushuu’s life story and significant achievements. A special exhibition is held in November along with the Hakushuu Festival.
  • His hometown of Yanagawa, in Fukuoka Prefecture, continues to celebrate his life and works with an annual festival every November that includes poetry readings and music.
  • Given Kitahara’s extensive oeuvre and legacy, a great number of his poems were set to music. Specifically, his collaboration with Kosaku Yamada, one of the pioneering figures in the history of Japanese art song. He composed roughly 700 commpositions, among them the song cycle Songs of Aiyan to poems by Kitahara Hakushuu. As the poems are written in the local Kyushu dialect, Yamada's musical setting incorporates aspects of Japanese theatre and lyricism, lending at moments an almost otherworldly tonality to the music.
  • He died at age 57 due to diabetes. His grave is located at the Tama Reien in the outskirts of Tokyo.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Kitahara Hakushuu - His Life and Poetry, Margaret Benton Fukasawa, 2010
  2. Landscapes and Portraits: Appreciations of Japanese Culture, Donald Keene, 1971
  3. Kitahara Hakushuu, Nihon Bungaku Arubamu, Vol. II, 1954
  4. Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishonen Culture in Modernist Japanese, Jeffrey Angles, 2011
  5. Reality and Fiction in Modern Japanese Literature, Noriko Mizuta Lippit, 2017
  6. Kitahara Hakushuu and the Creative Nature of Children Through Dōyō, Gregory Diehl, 2011