Kyokutei Bakin (曲亭 馬琴, 4 July 1767 – 1 December 1848) was a
Edo period gesaku author best known for works such as
Nansō Satomi Hakkenden (The Chronicles of the Eight Dog Heroes of the
Satomi Clan of Nansô) and Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki (Strange Tales of
the Crescent Moon). Both are outstanding examples of
nineteenth-century yomihon, or "books for reading" (as opposed to
picture books and books for recitation).
Born as Takizawa Okikuni (滝沢興邦), he wrote under the pen name
Kyokutei Bakin (曲亭馬琴), which is a pun, as the kanji may also
be read as kuruwa de makoto, meaning a man who is truly devoted to the
courtesans of the pleasure districts. Later in life he took the pen
name Toku (解). Modern scholarship generally refers to him as
Kyokutei Bakin, or just as Bakin.
Edo (present-day Tokyo) on 4 July 1767, Bakin was the fifth
son of Omon and Okiyoshi. His father, Okiyoshi, was a samurai in the
service of one of the Shogun's retainers, Matsudaira Nobunari. Two of
his older brothers died in infancy, while the other two, Rabun
(1759–1798) and Keichū (1765–1786), played pivotal roles in
Bakin's life. He had two younger sisters, Ohisa, born in 1771, and
Okiku, born in 1774.
In his diaries, Bakin wrote that his father, a heavy drinker, was
devoted to scholarship and the classics, and diligent in his work as a
samurai. He died in 1775, when Bakin was only nine years old, having
aggravated his gout through drinking. Bakin's family stipend was soon
reduced by half, and in December of the following year, Rabun gave up
his service to the Matsudaira clan in favor of living as a rōnin.
Bakin and his family were forced into a much smaller dwelling as a
Eventually Rabun received a new post, and in 1778 Bakin's mother
pretended to be sick in order to move in with him. Bakin had been
placed in service of the Matsudaira lord's grandson, but was treated
cruelly and ran away when only 14. He left the following haiku as a
note explaining his reasons for leaving:
Chilled by winter winds
I have decided
To journey with the gods.
"The Eight Dog Chronicles" took 28 years to complete (1814–1842),
and Bakin grew blind and lost his wife and son before he completed it.
Comprising 106 volumes, it is one of the world's longest novels. The
final parts of the work were dictated to his daughter-in-law. Although
he was born of lower samurai birth, Bakin renounced his status to
become a writer. His works center on samurai themes, including loyalty
and family honor, as well as Confucianism, and Buddhist philosophy.
Excerpts translated by Chris Drake are included in Early Modern
Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900, edited by Haruo Shirane
(Columbia University Press, 2002). The Eight Dog Chronicles has been
adapted many times in, for example, the anime
OVA The Hakkenden.
His Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki (Strange Tales of the Crescent Moon,
1807–1811) was adapted for the kabuki stage by Yukio Mishima.
A series of ukiyo-e containing 50 pictures depicting characters from
Nansō Satomi Hakkenden and featuring leading kabuki actors was
created by Utagawa
Kunisada II. These prints were published in the
early 1850s by Tsutaya Kichizo.
Takizawa made the Japanese version of Haoqiu zhuan, titled
Media related to Kyokutei Bakin at Wikimedia Commons
^ Catalogue: Chiba Museum, Hakkenden no sekai (2008).
^ Rainier Lanselle, dans André Lévy (editor), Dictionnaire de
littérature chinoise, Presses universitaires de France,
« Quadrige », 1994, rééd. 2000, p. 109. "L'ouvrage a
connu une certaine fortune tant en Chine qu'à l'étranger :
Takizawa Bakin sous le titre de Kyōkakuden (Les
ISNI: 0000 0000 8167 9289
BNF: cb156171409 (data)