One of the hardest things about carrying out research on Nakai Hiromu, I have learned, is actually finding documentation and sources on him. There’s not a lot, and what there is often tends to be fairly limited in its scope. In my last post, I mentioned that the spot where Nakai’s temporary residence had been in Kiyamachi Street had been briefly touched upon in the JR West journal Kyoto Sansaku, and it’s exactly this kind of thing that I mean. Modern texts tend to give only a passing mention. Our Mr. Nakai is quite an elusive character it seems.
Naturally in English texts too, information about Nakai Hiromu is few and far between. However, Andrew Cobbing has made a more extensive study about Nakai in his works, for example, The Japanese Discovery of Victorian Britain (Japan Library, 1998) and The Satsuma Students in Britain (Japan Library, 2000). Also, thanks to Professor Cobbing for his kind and helpful advice, I have learned that another author, Susanna Fessler has also looked at the travel journals of Nakai Hiromu in her publication Musashino in Tuscany: Japanese Overseas Travel Literature, 1860-1912 (University of Michigan, 2004). This work gives 16 pages of coverage on Nakai and discusses both of his travel journals as they are published in the Meiji Bunka Zenshu series.
It is good to see though, that Nakai is getting a little more attention. It does put pressure on me of course to hurry up and finish my doctoral thesis! What am I doing writing a blog?! Get to it woman!
In all seriousness though, it is important that such “background characters” like Nakai get more attention so that a broader and clearer picture of the historical facts can be made.