of silence ~ Katsura Nobuko (M Ueda, Far Beyond the Field)
Katsura Nobuko was born Niwa Nobuko in Osaka, Japan on November 1, 1914. When she was five, she almost died of acute pneumonia. After graduating from Ootemae Girls’ High School, she began writing haiku when the poems in ‘Kikan’ (The flagship) magazine impressed her with their nontraditional style. She subsequently met the magazine’s editor, Hino Soojoo, and became his protege. Her marriage in 1939 changed her family name to Katsura, but her husband died two years later.
Childless, Nobuko returned to her mother’s home. On March 13, 1945, the home caught fire as the American planes bombed Osaka. Unable to put out the fire she gathered her haiku manuscripts before fleeing barefooted. It is said that when she was reunited with her mother, her mother – weeping – said, “You are safe — that’s all I care.” The rescued manuscripts were later published in her first volume, ‘Gekkoo shoo (Beams of the moon 1949).
…we were determined to speak the truth. Now I understand that truth and virtue must be joined by strength. When I first read the French author La Fontaine many years ago, I was disturbed by this statement: ‘The argument of the strongest party is always the best.’ …life has taught me more than once that his statement is at least partly true. Truth without strength cannot stand firm. Strength does not have to mean tyranny or violence, but one must be strong. Without strength, how could those with no more than a pen challenge powerful authorities?