Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933) is now widely viewed as JapanÃ¢Â�Â�s greatest poet of the 20th century. Little known in his lifetime, he died at 37 from tuberculosis, but has since become a much loved childrenÃ¢Â�Â�s author whose magical tales have been translated into many languages, adapted for the stage and turned into films and animations. Recognition for his poetry came much later. Ã¢Â�Â�Strong in the RainÃ¢Â�Â� Ã¢Â�Â� the title-poem of this selection Ã¢Â�Â� is now arguably the most memorised and quoted modern poem in Japan.
KENJI MIYAZAWA was the eldest son of a pawnbroker in the town of Hanamaki, in the remote prefecture of Iwate. After studying agriculture and forestry, he worked as a teacher at an agricultural school, leaving after five years to found the Las Farmers Association. In the last years of his life he travelled around villages teaching the science of rice cultivation. Miyazawa's writings have been published in Japan at least three times in multi-volume collected works and scores of separate editions, illustrated and otherwise. His story Matasaburo of the Wind has been made into a film three times, while his most celebrated piece, Night on the Milky Way Railroad, has been adapted for the stage and turned into an animated film (which still resonates with the original tale's Buddhist overtones). Strong in the Rain (Bloodaxe Books, 2007) is the first selection of his poetry to be published in Britain.