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Walk from Kagurazaka to the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum in Shinjuku: Tracing the Footsteps of Natsume Soseki, Author of "I Am a Cat" and "Kokoro"

Updated: Jun 1


Walk from Kagurazaka to the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum in Shinjuku: Tracing the Footsteps of Natsume Soseki, Author of "I Am a Cat" and "Kokoro"

Today, we will introduce the life of Natsume Soseki and the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum, which is about a 10 to 15-minute walk from Kagurazaka Station on the Tokyo Metro. The Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum is built on the site where the great literary figure Natsume Soseki, known worldwide for works such as "I Am a Cat" and "Kokoro," lived and wrote. The museum opened on September 24, 2017, marking the 150th anniversary of Soseki's birth.


Soseki and Shinjuku Ward (Waseda/Kagurazaka)


The Shinjuku ward, where Soseki was born, raised, and spent his final days, is rich with places connected to his life. The name of the area where Soseki was born, Kikuicho, Shinjuku, was named by Soseki's father, Naokatsu Natsume, who was the headman of the area at the time. The name derives from the Natsume family's crest, "a chrysanthemum in a well frame." Similarly, a slope near Soseki's birthplace was named "Natsume-zaka" after the family.


Soseki's novels and essays frequently mention names of places in Shinjuku, and temples and shrines still found in the ward appear in his works. Soseki's diaries and letters record his outings to Kagurazaka in Shinjuku for shopping and cherry blossom viewing along the Kanda River. For Soseki, Shinjuku was his birthplace, the setting for his works, his everyday life, and where he spent his final days.


Walk from Kagurazaka to the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum in Shinjuku: Tracing the Footsteps of Natsume Soseki, Author of "I Am a Cat" and "Kokoro"

Natsume Soseki (real name: Kinnosuke) was born in 1867 in Ushigome Babanashita Yokomachi (now Kikuicho, Shinjuku) as the fifth son of Natsume Kohei Naokatsu, the headman of the town. During his time at Daiichi High School, he met Masaoka Shiki and learned haiku from him, forging a deep friendship. Soseki graduated from the Department of English Literature at Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) in 1893, pursued graduate studies, and then worked as a teacher in Matsuyama and Kumamoto. In 1900, he was sent to England for two years by the Ministry of Education to study English.


After returning to Japan in 1903, Soseki lived in Kagurazaka for about two months, near the current headquarters of Shinchosha Publishing Co. He then moved to Mukogaoka, Bunkyo Ward (near Nezu Shrine). During this time, Soseki became a university lecturer but struggled with neurasthenia, a condition he had suffered from since his time abroad. Encouraged by his friend Takahama Kyoshi to write for relaxation, he published "I Am a Cat" in 1905, which gained popularity and marked the beginning of his career as a writer.


In 1907, Soseki moved to Waseda Minamicho (the current location of the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum). Around this time, many disciples gathered at his home, and weekly gatherings called "Thursday Meetings" were held, attended by notable figures such as Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Tetsuro Watsuji, and Kan Kikuchi.


Soseki resigned from the university in 1907 and joined the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun as a full-time writer, serializing works like "Sanshiro," "And Then," and "The Gate" in the newspaper. On the way to the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum from Kagurazaka Station (along Waseda Dori), there is a fish shop called "Sanshiro," founded in 1723. It is speculated that Soseki might have used this shop's name for the protagonist "Ogawa Sanshiro" in his novel.


Soseki continued to write notable works such as "Kokoro" and "Grass on the Wayside," but his health deteriorated due to chronic stomach ulcers, and he passed away at his home in Waseda Minamicho in 1916 at the age of 49.

Walk from Kagurazaka to the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum in Shinjuku: Tracing the Footsteps of Natsume Soseki, Author of "I Am a Cat" and "Kokoro"

The Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum faithfully recreates Soseki's study, guest room, and verandah corridor as they were in the original "Soseki Sanbo," where he lived and wrote many of his masterpieces.


The museum features an entrance hall that visitors to the museum and the adjacent Soseki Park can use freely. It also includes a book cafe where visitors can enjoy reading in a relaxed atmosphere. The museum attracts not only Japanese visitors but also many foreign tourists. We highly recommend visiting the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum.




Closed Days:


Mondays (if a Monday is a holiday, the museum will be closed the following non-holiday)

Year-end and New Year holidays (December 29 to January 3)

Other temporary closure days for maintenance, etc.

Admission Fees (Regular Exhibitions):

Adults: ¥300, Elementary and Junior High School Students: 100 yen

*Admission fees for special exhibitions may vary.


Access:


  • Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, Waseda Station, Exit 1 (Elevator to the ground level on the Kikuicho side): about 5 to 10 minutes on foot

  • Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, Kagurazaka Station, Exit 2 (Yaraiguchi): about 10 to 15 minutes on foot

  • Toei Oedo Line, Ushigome-Yanagicho Station, East Exit: about 10 to 15 minutes on foot



Walk from Kagurazaka to the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum in Shinjuku: Tracing the Footsteps of Natsume Soseki, Author of "I Am a Cat" and "Kokoro"

Nearby Facilities: Yayoi Kusama Museum


The Yayoi Kusama Museum is just a 3-minute walk from the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum. We recommend visiting it before or after your visit to the Natsume Soseki Memorial Museum. However, please note that the Yayoi Kusama Museum is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Also, tickets are only sold on the museum's website and are not available at the museum itself, so please ensure you purchase tickets in advance.


Book Experience







How to Access Kagurazaka


The Kagurazaka area is conveniently located within 30 minutes from any major station in Tokyo. This is because Kagurazaka is situated in the heart of Tokyo, at the center of the Yamanote Line. Please come and visit this convenient and charming Kagurazaka.



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