Ichiyo Higuchi

By Staff Writer
May 10, 2023
Higuchi Ichiyo, a Meiji-era writer, has been called "Japan's first female novelist. Despite only living to the age of 24, she left several notable works as a writer. Most of her life was spent in poverty, and she wrote novels to earn money to support her family. Most of her works were romances, but with criticism of the society of the day, depicting the tragedies of women and the suffering caused by a social and family systems that placed women at a disadvantage. To honor her memory, Higuchi's portrait was added to the 5,000 yen bill issued in 2004, the first time a woman was depicted on a Japanese bill. She is highly regarded as an opinion leader who was active at a time when women were not making inroads into the market. In addition, the themes of her work, such as women, gender, and poverty, are relevant today and still resonate with many people today.
A woman in kimono holding a writing brush
A memorial statue of Higuchi
The 5,000-yen bill in use since 2004, depicting Higuchi
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