|[ Kan'ichi Asakawa | Chieko Takamura | Hideyo Noguchi ]|
The dreamer : Chieko Takamura
Chieko's Life: Living in Love and Art
Eldest of eight childrenVerdant home country with the Abukuma River in the east and Mount Adatara in the west.
Chieko (a.k.a. Chie) Naganuma was born on May 20, 1886 in what is now Adachi-machi, Adachi-gun, Fukushima Prefecture. She was the eldest daughter of her father, Kesakichi, and her mother, Sen. She had five sisters--Seki, Mitsu, Yoshi, Setsu, and Chiyo--and two younger brothers, Keisuke and Shuji.
The house in which she was born was one of the largest sake breweries in the region and was called "Yoneya." Her grandfather, Jisuke, created "Hanagasumi," a superior sake brand.
Chieko was raised in a privileged environment in this prosperous home.
In front of "Yoneya," the former Naganuma Brewery, the house of Chieko's birth.
Wise Girl, ChiekoThe student records of the Yui Elementary School that Chieko attended shows that she achieved meritorious records in diverse subjects including art.
Former Yui Elementary School That Chieko Attended
Going Out Into the WorldWhen Chieko was fifteen she entered the Fukushima Municipal Women's High School. This meant leaving her parents and living alone. We can feel her loneliness and recreate the tenor of her daily life from her humorous writing in the "get-well-soon" letter to her former teacher, Usaku Yasuda.
The "get-well-soon" letter to Mr. Usaku Yasuda, Chieko's former teacher
New WomanIn 1903, when she was seventeen, Chieko went to Tokyo and entered the Japan Women's University General Preparatory Course; she later transferred to the Home Economics Department. During her college days, Chieko recognized her gift, and decided how to live her life.
Her classmates, talking about Chieko, said, "She is calm, reticent, and shows enthusiastic concentration in whatever she does. She is also very humorous and amazing. For instance, she learned to ride a bicycle more quickly than the rest of us. She also invented an "easy hakama" (Japanese pleated skirt-like garment) that required no folding. She was good at playing tennis and surprised us with her sizzling shots that we were hardly in keeping with her meek and quiet character.
"Seeking Beauty": Meeting KotaroChieko did not return home even after her graduation from university in 1907. She continued her activities as an oil painter, which was very rare for the women of her day. As one of members of the "new women's group," she created with an original approach the cover art for the first issue of the "Seito" magazine.
Then she met Kotaro Takamura, a sculptor and poet who had just returned from study in France.
Chieko painted and stayed with Kotaro for about a month while he was in Kamikochi busy with his work. They mutually understood each other's art, and this their love and trust deepened. In February 1914 when Chieko was 29, they told their friends of their marriage.
Father's Death and Disintegration of Her Childhood HomeAfter her marriage Chieko demonstrated great writing skill and also gained distinction as a "new woman" by authoring "Byokan Zakki." She also answered inquiries from magazines. In 1918, however, following the death of her father Kesakichi, the prosperity of her childhood home gradually diminished.