Takeo Arishima: the Great Socialist Writer with a Tumultuous Life

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  • In the Taisho period (early 20th century) there was a famous writer who went by the name of Takeo Arishima. Besides being a writer, he was also known for dividing his land amongst peasants and allowing them to farm and make a good living without requiring them to pay any rent. This beloved man now has a museum in his honor, the Arishima Takeo Memorial Museum in Niseko, Hokkaido. Would you like to learn more about this talented and famous writer?

    Career and Family


    Over his short life (1878-1923) Takeo Arishima has produced many works such as novels, short stories, and essays. Creativity was a prominent quality in this family, as his younger brothers were also writers. Additionally, his son was known around the world as a film and stage actor.

    His life and death were not without drama: after his wife died young after only 6 years of marriage she left him with 3 children. A few years later he met a married woman he started an affair with, and when her husband found out about them they committed suicide together.

    Famous Works


    Takeo Arishima was first brought into the spotlight when he published ‘The Descendants of Cane’ in 1917. It’s a story about God’s curse on man and nature that is told through the eyes of a self-destructive tenant farmer. He is best known for his story ‘A Certain Woman’, which was published in 1919. It’s a melodrama about a woman with a strong will. She battles with herself and others to live in a heavily hypocritical, male-dominated society. Besides being emotionally charged, many of his works were greatly influenced by his strong socialist beliefs.

    A Legacy


    After his death, Takeo Arishima was still a well-known and respected writer. A book came to light, full of detailed diary entries. It described many things regarding his life, hopes, and fears. The book got people talking for years after his passing. Though many people loved his work, some of the themes and characters included in his writings did not appeal to many contemporary Japanese readers. Even still, he was a talented writer and is now immortalized having left us his work that is honored in the museum.

    There are many memorials around the world for admired celebrities, writers, political figures and other important people. This museum is one of them, and definitely worth a visit if you are in Niseko (which is a beautiful, green town which should be on your list if you go to Hokkaido!). Takeo Arishima worked hard to provide for his community and gave them quality readings. He earned his place and will be remembered for many more years to come.

    You can click here for more information about this museum and the city of Niseko (English).


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