Kawabata / Hampō: "My Life, a Fragment of a Landscape"
January 24, 2016 9:37 AM   Subscribe

From Kawabata's book The Master Of Go (trans Seidensticker; p149 vintage pb 1 edn):
On a wall above the Go board was a framed inscription by Hampō: "My Life, a Fragment of a Landscape."

Who was Hampō? If the entire thing is fictional (I cannot find any reference to Hampō; the quote is generally attributed to Kawabata), to what extent is it normal in Japanese literature to fabricate such things? Is this something specific to Kawabata?

To my (uneducated) reading, the book is largely a homage (or farewell) to the past. In that context fabricating a quote seems peculiarly modern. Can someone explain the general context?

Also, I am assuming the text above implies Hampō was the author of the quote, but I suppose it's possible that he(?) was the calligrapher (or both)?
posted by andrewcooke to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
oh, also, Hampō (suspiciously) has no translator's note with autobiographical details.
posted by andrewcooke at 9:43 AM on January 24, 2016

There is an artist called Yasuda Hanpo (安田半圃) (with a short "o"). Maybe that's him. He was born around the right time for Kawabat to know of him. He doesn't seem to rate a Wikipedia entry. Here's some of his art.
posted by nevan at 1:40 PM on January 24, 2016

Actually, thinking about it, Yasuda is his family name. Unless he used his first hame as his artist name?
posted by nevan at 1:44 PM on January 24, 2016

The footnote in another edition, I think, identifies Hampo as the pen name of a Diet member and Waseda University president -- which eventually led me back to Takata Sanae, a Waseda University president and Diet member whose pen name was Hanpō, 半峰. (Hampō and Hanpō are both valid romanizations of that name.) Unfortunately Takata's not in English Wikipedia, but there are some biographical details here.

The quote in the Japanese text is 生涯一片山水, but I can't find any information on where the quote originally comes from, or whether it's Kawabata or Hanpō or some other person who wrote it.
posted by Jeanne at 1:52 PM on January 24, 2016

thanks Jeanne! that makes a whole lot more sense than it being an invention.

(i found an amazing image from a - possibly the same as your suggestion, nevan - artist called Hampo) (also auto above - dumb mistake, sorry).
posted by andrewcooke at 2:24 PM on January 24, 2016

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