I compare discovering new writers to making new friends, and I have found an incredible new “companion” in the Japanese artist Kenji Miyazawa. I began reading his story “Night of the Milky Way Railroad” early in our trip, along with some of his poetry. An evocative and imaginative writer, his prose paintings propelled me to the place of my dreams—a world of mystery and wonder.
We visited the Kenji Miyazawa Museum in Hanamaki City, which allowed me to learn more about his life. He reminds me of a peaceful, more meditative version of Jack London, as both men exhibited extreme genius in a variety of areas. Not only did Kenji write stories and poems, he painted, composed music, studied religion, and advocated for poverty-stricken farmers.
His scientific pursuits included work in geology, astronomy, and natural history; most remarkably he had predicted global climate change and promoted renewable energy during his life, definitely ahead of his time. As his biography states, his vision was “a mixture of religious faith, scientific knowledge and environmental awareness.” He died young (similar to Jack London), at the age of 37 in 1933.