On the 100th anniversary of influential Japanese author Natsume Soseki’s death, the Asahi Shimbun Co., the Japan Foundation, Iwanami Shoten Publishers and Ferris University will jointly hold an international essay contest on Natsume Soseki (the deadline will be 10th August). Accordingly, this month the Japan Foundation Cairo Office Library will feature the great writer, Natsume Soseki.

Soseki flourished in the Meiji era when abrupt internationalization rocked Japanese society. His writing covered many areas including novels, criticism, studies in English literature, Haiku (Japanese short poems) and poems in the Chinese style. Even 100 years after his death readers are still fascinated by his observations on human relations, foresight, principles and wisdom.

Regrettably, since Japanese language has changed during the last 50 years, the writing style used in the Meiji Era has become difficult to read for Japanese people nowadays, even among the educated. But recently Soseki’s books were revised for easier reading and issued and also a few websites appeared from which his masterpieces can be easily downloaded. Therefore, Soseki’s works which discuss human nature have become popular again.

In Soseki’s works Zen thought and Confucianism are important factors. It is said that Soseki was disinclined to translate his works into European languages, since it was feared that readers foreign to Asian culture might not understand his thought. However, with their deep insights into human nature, Soseki’s works have definitely touched the hearts of readers from both the east and the west because of their universal themse.

Why don’t you read Soseki’s works and apply to the Essay Contest this summer?