Soseki Museum in London
Japanese Novelist Remembered in London
One of the best thing about my living in Japan is that it encouraged me to read Japanese literature (in English I am sorry to say - my Japanese isn't good enough to handle a novel). I enjoyed the work of Shiga Naoya and Yukio Mishima. However, my favourite Japanese novelist is Natsume Soseki. I especially liked Kokoro and Botchan. So of course I was excited to hear that there is a Soseki Museum in London. Soseki lived in London from October 1900 to December 1902, as a scholar sponsored by the Japanese Government. He lived in five different places, but he lived longest at 81 The Chase, Clapham, South London.
There is a "blue plaque" on the wall of his former house. A government organisation, English Heritage, places blue plaques on buildings that were home to historic figures, such as artists, politicians and so on. The first was erected in 1863. Natsume Soseki is the only Japanese to have been granted this honour.
In the 1980s, a fan of Soseki bought a flat opposite Soseki's house - 80b - and turned it into a museum commemorating Soseki's time in London.
Sadly, Soseki was suffering from depression at the time of his visit, and did not enjoy his time in England at all. He even found the permanence of the buildings daunting. Only towards the end of his stay did he cheer up, when he visited Scotland. There's no accounting for taste!
Nearest tube station: Chapman Common
80b The Chase
020 7720 8718
Wed & Sat:
11 am-1 pm
2 pm - 5pm
Sun: 2 pm - 5pm