On Miyazawa Kenji
This museum is dedicated to professional agronomist, teacher, geologist, philosopher, activist, poet, and writer Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) who to this day is mostly remembered for his literary works that transcend generations and borders. Miyazawa’s works are characterized by fantastical worlds that are deeply connected to nature, entwined in poignant text and progressive morals. His most famous piece is the short novel, “Night on the Galactic Railroad,” in which two friends take a train journey to the cosmos. This metaphysical, mature, thoughtful story can be enjoyed by both adults and children.
Kenji Miyazawa, born into affluence, was also a devout Buddhist. Although he was to take over his family business, he found contradictions between the work and his faith. He later became a teacher at Hanamaki Agricultural School which relieved him of the burden of having to work at his family business. He wished for his students to become farmers but realized yet another contradiction, he wasn't practicing what he had preached when he himself was a white collar worker. He then moved to a new town and became a farmer and took time to study soils and fertilizers. In the latter part of his short life, Kenji's desire to help Tozo Suzuki, the owner of a small rock-crushing factory, lead him to Matsukawa, Ichinoseki. Here he worked as an engineer and salesman. Kenji gave his all to help the factory from going bankrupt, so much so, that eventually supply could not meet demand. Sadly, Kenji was suffering from illness for years, and even up to the month before his passing, he continued to give advice to Tozo. Kenji, although had some literary success throughout his life, it was his after his passing where his works came to the fore. One example is the poem 'ame ni mo makezu' (Be not defeated by the rain - scroll to the end of the article) which was not publicized but found in one his notebooks.
Located in the quiet Ichinoseki countryside is the Stone and Kenji Museum which was built near the former plant site where Kenji worked. It introduces the way of life of Kenji Miyazawa and the factory owner, Tozo Suzuki, who were in pursuit for "real happiness of everyone". We believe that Kenji would love the museum as it displays beautiful, precious minerals of the earth as well as photos of Kenji with his friends. The pathway toward the building decorated by things Kenji that has written about or has a passion for.
The museum consists of three facilities. The first being the Former Tohoku Stone Crushing Plant. The plant suspended its business operations in 1978 and is now registered as an Industrial Modernization Heritage, the first of its kind under the Cultural Property Registration System. Recently, the inside of the plant has been renewed and reopened to the public after three years.
The second facility is the House of Sun and Wind where you can enjoy the Mineral Exhibition Room. As a child, Kenji would collect and obsess over beautiful rocks and earned the nickname ‘Ishikko Ken’ or ‘stone kid Ken’. I’m sure he’d appreciate all the fascinating rocks on display such as ulexite or ‘TV rock’, sanukite, which makes a pleasant sound when struck, the many rocks which emit a different color when exposed to ultraviolet as well as fossil displays which includes a large ammonite. Other exhibitions display historical letters, Tohoku’s agricultural history and Kenji’s efforts in the region.
Business hours/regular holidays: 10:00 to 17:00
Closed: Mondays, the day after national holidays, year-end and New Year holidays
Phone number: 0191-47-3655
Fee: Elementary and junior high school students free
High school/university students 200 yen (160 yen) Student ID presentation
Adult 300 yen (240 yen)
Free for persons with disabilities and caregivers (presentation of disability certificates, etc.)
Access: (JR Ofunato Line) From Ichinoseki Station to Rikuchu Matsukawa Station (about 30 minutes) → 4 minutes on foot
Lastly, here is a translation of 'ami ni mo makezu' by
Translated by David Sulz
Be not defeated by the rain, Nor let the wind prove your better.
Succumb not to the snows of winter. Nor be bested by the heat of summer.
Be strong in body. Unfettered by desire. Not enticed to anger. Cultivate a quiet joy.
Count yourself last in everything. Put others before you.
Watch well and listen closely. Hold the learned lessons dear.
A thatch-roof house, in a meadow, nestled in a pine grove's shade.
A handful of rice, some miso, and a few vegetables to suffice for the day.
If, to the East, a child lies sick: Go forth and nurse him to health.
If, to the West, an old lady stands exhausted: Go forth, and relieve her of burden.
If, to the South, a man lies dying: Go forth with words of courage to dispel his fear.
If, to the North, an argument or fight ensues:
Go forth and beg them stop such a waste of effort and of spirit.
In times of drought, shed tears of sympathy.
In summers cold, walk in concern and empathy.
Stand aloof of the unknowing masses:
Better dismissed as useless than flattered as a "Great Man".
This is my goal, the person I strive to become.