Wenceslau de Moraes (1854-1929), the Portuguese writer, translator and poet, who spent his later life living near Mt. Bizen in Tokushima, is regarded as the Portuguese Lafcadio Hearn, of whom he was a contemporary.
Born in Lisbon, Moraes attended Naval College before joining the Portuguese navy and serving on battleships in the Far East. He settled in Macao, where he married a local woman and started a family. In 1889 he visited Japan for the first time and appeared to fall in love with the country. In 1898 he deserted his wife and children in Macao and took up residence in Kobe as Portugal's Consulate General in the port city. It was while in Japan that Moraes began writing about his life in the East for several Portuguese newspapers and magazines.
In 1913, saddened by the death of his Japanese wife Oyone, Moraes resigned from his official posts in Kobe and moved to Tokushima in Shikoku (his wife's birthplace) and began a relationship with her niece Koharu. It was during his time in Tokushima that Moraes became increasingly Japonized in his personal habits and dress and began to face rising resentment from the locals, who may or may not have been scandalized by his relationships with two local women.
After the early death of Koharu, Moraes lead an increasingly isolated existence until his death aged 75.
Moraes' works include Oyone & Koharu (1923), Cartas do Extremo Oriente (1895), Dai Nippon (1897) and O Bom-Odori em Tokushima (1916).
The Moraes Hall on top of Mt. Bizen is a memorial museum to the man and his life and includes personal effects, photographs and a reconstruction of Moraes' study.
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Tokushima Shikoku Wenceslau Moraes
Saturday, May 10, 2008
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