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'Sayonara' to Ishimure, who found a paradise in 'sea of sorrow'

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Michiko Ishimure grew up reading few books worth reading, and perhaps the only notable literary work she went through before turning 20 was “Daibosatsu Toge” (Great Boddhisattva Pass), an epic multivolume novel by Kaizan Nakazato (1885-1944).

The writer and activist also loathed literary magazines that she received from the big cities.

Instead, she tried to create works based on a dialect that was spoken by elderly people in Kumamoto Prefecture's Amakusa, where she was born, and Minamata, where she moved as a child.

The dialect has unique intonations that sound like the speaker is singing.

Ishimure greatly admired the riches of the Shiranui Sea, which both Amakusa and Minamata face, and condemned the mercury pollution from industrial wastewater that devastated its environment.


© The Asahi Shimbun