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MUSINGS / June 6, 2018

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s June 6 issue.

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Novelist Ango Sakaguchi (1906-55), who is considered part of the Buraiha decadent school of writers, got tired of living in Tokyo and moved to Kyoto for a sojourn. “Koto” (Ancient capital), an essay released in 1942, is said to be based on his life there.

He rented a room on the second floor of a bento shop. “If I told you I spent the whole year in a padded kimono-type jacket that I was wearing when I left Tokyo and a couple of yukata summer kimono I used as underwear, would it be strange?” The essay, infused with the charm of Sakaguchi and his vagrant ways, suddenly became popular after the war.

The writer wrote freely about “the old man” who ran the bento shop. “The old man is from the Shogoin Yatsuhashi shop. Of the many local specialties of Kyoto, the yatsuhashi snacks are the yokozuna. And Shogoin Yatsuhashi is the true originator.”

The idea [cited in Sakaguchi’s writing] that it was founded in the second year of the Genroku era (1689) — as claimed by Shogoin Yatsuhashi Sohonten itself — is false, according to Izutsu Yatsuhashi Honpo, another long-established shop. Izutsu filed suit [against Shogoin] seeking an injunction for it to stop saying so. Your columnist is wondering how the trial will turn out. Even Sakaguchi’s writings seem to be from the distant past. What needs to be proven in court goes way beyond his writings.

Will they look into the origin of the crispy cinnamon-flavored baked goods against a backdrop of the history of the ancient capital? Isn’t this what you would expect of Kyoto? Oh, dear. I nearly forgot this is a lawsuit.Speech

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