The Japanese poet Ishikawa Takuboku (1886-1912), famous for his modern free-style tanka, disliked the repressive and static atmosphere of the Meiji era (1868-1912).
The only son of a Buddhist priest, Takuboku was, according to historians, spoilt and arrogant, as well as highly precocious, and saw limited positive future outcomes for the individual or the nation, in the era’s political and intellectual climate.
In 1913 he wrote a famous, often cited essay, The Impasse of Our Age, Jidai Heisoku no Genjo, accusing naturalism and many other so-called ‘isms’ as inadequate, and some of his poetry reflects Japan’s changing society, as well as his own self-scorn and anger.
Takuboku has been called Japan’s Meiji Angry Young Man, and much else, including, for example, the first modern Japanese, a provincial romantic, as well as a shameless firebrand. But his poems are still enjoyed and cherished by many today.
His refusal to conform and his James Dean (1931-1955) like early death at the age of 26, has helped give him a cult like status in Japan.
An example of one of his poems translated by Roger Pulvers is:
FATHERS AND SONS
Why is the air so thick between them?
Apart in spirit when facing each other
Close in absolute silence.