Kurushima Takehiko

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Kurushima Takehiko (久留島 武彦?, June 19, 1874 - June 27, 1960) was an author of children's literature, and one of the three great Japanese authors of children's stories for public performance. He is also the writer of the nursery rhyme "Yūyake Koyake", and was praised as "the Japanese Hans Christian Andersen". He was born in Mori Town, Kusu District (currently Kusu Town) in Ōita Prefecture.

He was a direct descendent of Kurushima Michifusa (来島 通総?), and the grandson of the last head of the Mori Domain, Kurushima Michiyasu (久留島 通靖?).

In 1887, he entered Ōita Middle School (currently Ōita Uenogaoka High School 大分県立大分上野丘高等学校). There he met an American priest, Wainwright, who was working as an English teacher. Partly due to the influence of Mr. and Mrs. Wainwright, he came to enjoy telling stories to children in Sunday School. He changed schools together with Wainwright, to Kansai College (関西学院), from which he graduated.

He then entered the army, and served in the First Sino-Japanese War. Works he wrote and submitted under the pen name Onoe Shinbee (尾上 新兵衛?) were accepted by Iwaya Sazanami (巌谷 小波?), the head writer at the magazine Shōnen Sekai (少年世界?), "'World' for Boys", and he began to write military stories. He also met Ozaki Kōyō. After returning to Japan, he got a job working for the Kobe Shimbun newspaper.

In 1906, he began an organised tour of Japan to give readings of children's stories. He visited over 6000 kindergartens and elementary schools.

In 1910, he founded Sawarabi Kindergarten.

In 1924, the Japanese Children's Story Guild (日本童話連盟 Nihon Dōwa Renmei?) was established, and he and Iwaya Sazanami joined as consultants.

In 1945, both his Tokyo home and Sawarabi Kindergarten were burnt down in the air raids.

In 1949, he moved to Kōseki-An (香積庵?), a house built inside the precinct of Denkōji (傳香寺?) temple.

He also played a part in laying the foundations of the Scouting movement in Japan, together with a group including Nakano Chūkichi (中野 忠八?) and Kurushima Takehiko's son-in-law, Kurushima Hidesaburō (久留島 秀三郎?), and participated in the Second World Scout Jamboree held in Denmark in 1924, as the deputy leader of the Japanese group.

At that time, when he visited Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, he was distressed to find that the house in which Andersen was born was being used as little more than a storehouse, and that Andersen's grave was unattended to and had gone to seed. He appealed to the local newspaper, and to wherever else he visited, to return Andersen to his rightful prominence. Moved by this, the Danish people came to call him "the Japanese Hans Christian Andersen".

Related items

  • The Kurushima Takehiko Culture Prize: a prize given to an individual or group for contributions to children's literature by the Japanese Culture Center for Youths and Children
  • The Children's Story Plaque: in Mishima Park, Kusu, Oita Prefecture. Erected in 1950 to commemorate 50 years of Kurushima Takehiko's life in children's stories. A Japanese Children's Story Festival is held every year on May 5.
  • Kurushima Memorial Building: in Mori District, Oita Prefecture.
  • Plaque marking the site of the home of Kurushima Takehiko: in the grounds of Denkō-ji, Nara, Nara Prefecture


Much of this article was translated from the equivalent article in the Japanese Wikipedia, as referenced on October 22, 2006.