1921 (Taisho 10) Sunday, October 9 Denemon Ito (60) and his wife, Akiko Yanagihara (35), who were called “Chikuho’s Coal King”, left their home in Fukuoka and headed for Tokyo. At that time, her husband Denemon had no idea but Hakuren made up his mind to leave Denemon, finished cleaning up all the clothes and furniture given to him by his husband over the past 10 years, and secretly carried jewelry back to him from Tokyo.
Byakuren Yanagihara (real name: Akiko Yanagihara) is the second daughter of Count Sakimitsu Yanagihara. Naruko YANAGIHARA, the real mother of Emperor Taisho, was her aunt. She and Emperor Taisho are cousins. After graduating from Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin College, she married Kitakoji Suketake, the heir of the Kitakoji Viscount family. At that time, Akiko was 15 years old and her husband Suketake KITAKOJI was 22 years old, both of whom were extremely violent. Divorced five years later. Akiko returned to the Yanagihara family at the age of 20.
Five years later, Akiko turned 25, and there was a new offer of marriage. Denemon Ito, who was called the “coal mine king of Chikuho”, was 50 years old at the time. It is said that Denemon Ito wanted to have a family lineage and the Yanagihara family wanted to have financial power, although the age difference between them is twice as big as that between 25 and 50. Akiko married into the home of Ito Denemon in Iizuka City, Fukuoka Prefecture, a long way away, but she could not get used to life in the Ito family and began to express her feelings through waka. Akiko’s pseudonym at that time was Byakuren, and since then, he has gained fame in the literary world as Ito Byakuren.
After 10 years of marriage, Hakuren turned 35 and met Miyazaki Ryusuke, the son of Toten Miyazaki and a student at Tokyo Imperial University. Ryusuke was also a member of the Rookie Society, a left-wing ideological organization at the time, and Byakuren became attracted to its intelligence. They exchanged as many as 700 love letters, and finally, in August 1921 10, Byakuren had to conceive her child at a meeting in Kyoto. 100 years ago today, Byakuren made up his mind to leave her husband and made preparations to run away, and left for Tokyo with her husband.
On October 22, an open letter of insulation was published in the newspaper. By winning public support in a theatrical divorce drama, she takes a strategy to stop her husband Denemon Ito from suing Byakuren and Ryusuke for adultery. It was such a big scandal that his older brother, Yoshimitsu YANAGIHARA, had to resign as a member of the House of Lords, but in the end, Denemon ITO kept his mouth shut and the divorce came to pass. Having left the peerage, Byakuren officially married Ryusuke. At age 40, they are blessed with a second child and are happy.
In his later years, he gradually lost sight in both eyes due to glaucoma, but he says he spent time peacefully caring for his husband, Ryusuke, and his daughter and their daughter. He 42 died at his home in Nishi-Ikebukuro on February 22, 1967. He was 81 years old. Shortly after the death of Byakuren, Ryusuke wrote a note in the June issue of Bungei Shunju titled “Half a Century with Byakuren Yanagihara.”.
“I’m not so sure how happy I made Akiko, but at least I think I was able to understand and help Teruko better than people from Ito or Yanagihara. I believe that I had passed through the first half of my life through the stormy wind and snow, and finally found a peaceful place for me.”
(Ryusuke MIYAZAKI, ‘A Half Century with Byakuren YANAGIHARA’ “Bungei Shunju”, the 45 year anniversary of the first issue in the June 1967 issue.)
4 years later, Ryusuke Miyazaki died on January 23, 1971 at the age of 78. They are sleeping in the cemetery of Kenkyo-ji Temple in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
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