White Russians

12/March/2023 in Kagawa

Quite struggling yet still reading "The Tale of Genji" translated by Tanizaki

After completing this translation from very old Japanese into modern Japanese in 1930s, Tanizaki wrote "The Makioka Sisters", the most well-known novel among oversea readers

Back then he lived in Kobe, a port city in West Japan, and the novel was based on his experiences there

In the novel, some foreign persons played key roles. Tanizaki called them "White Russians/白系ロシア人"

For a long time, I was wondering why they lived in Japan in 30s

Then, I found these "White Russians" were the ones who escaped to Japan after the Russian Revolution in 1917

...........This was what I'd known already

Then, last week, when I told my friend that I would go to Kobe very soon, he said

"These 'White Russians' were not only Russians but also many of Polish & Ukrainians and more"

Actually it's quite understandable, considering then-geopolitical situations

In the novel, Tanizaki didn't specify theseWhite Russians' exact nationalities/ethnicities

Most probably he didn't know, also just didn't care, but some of them left a mark in Kobe city & Japan's history, especially regarding music

"Morozoff" is still a famous sweet brand nationwide, and it was found by one of "White Russians", Valentin Fedorovich Mrozov from Ulyanovsk in Russia

Leo Sirota, from Kyiv, was a pianist who appeared in "The Makioka Sisters"

Emmanuel Metter from Kherson, who was teaching at Takarazuka Revue, a Japan's privileged musical school/theatre

Alexander Mogilevsky was a violinist from Odesa, who taught several Japanese students, some of them later become influencial figures. He got married to a Japanese woman & died in Tokyo