Japanese scholar. Lived in Fukuoka
in the Kyushu province of Japan
, b. 1745, d. 1844. Born to honorable parents, lived in an extension of the now mostly ruined Fukuoka Castle
. Left Fukuoka at the age of 18 to study Samurai arts and dissappears from the historical archive
until the year 1790 where we find him enrolled as a student in Keio, which was later to become (in 1858) Japan's first university
. Seiji returned to his home in 1800 to teach on a small stipend for the provincial subjects of the famous emperor Jimmu
, first mythical emperor of Japan.
Seiji Koga, known also as 西咲花
, or blooming flower of the west
in English, is principally known for being the first expositor of the works of the little-known author Florian Von Banier
, who lived in Prussia
around the same time as 西咲花 (though some historians date Von Banier's life approximately 75 years earlier, the historical archive indicates to this historian that Von Banier died sometime around 1750, as Seiji Koga reportedly met one of Von Banier's children). Von Banier was known to have travelled to Japan and have a number of friends there in the academic world
. Seiji Koga brought Von Banier into the Japanese popular imagination
and he was apparently well known throughout the Orient
until not long after Koga's death, when, in 1847, Kômei
becomes emperor and attempts censorship
of all of Koga's writings, a suppression which has proved very effective, as little remains of the work of 西咲花.
What we know of Seiji Koga's writings are the following five works, as well as letters, including a long letter
from Seiji Koga to one of the sons of the Count Florian Von Banier
- Translation of Europe, probably written in 1799 as a sort of dissertation to complete his studies in Keio. The work, now lost, treated on the subject of translation, focusing on the example of St. Jerome's work in translating the Bible, and the example of Messr. Gerhard Schmidt's translation of The Shobogenzo (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye), one of the first Buddhist texts written in the Japanese language.
- The Art of Writing Translations, Seiji Koga first encountered Florian Von Banier's works around the year 1810. The following year he translated into his native Japanese Von Banier's fabulous text, a complete treatise on the subject of translation.
- The Word for the Crane Flying, or The House of Meaning (単語 飛行 意味の位置), an aphoristic work in which Seiji Koga presents an articulate theory of meaning situating a rhetoric of remembrance, a nostalgic poetics, within a space of emotion. Here Seiji Koga shows us that he not only is a skilled scholar, but also a beautiful writer, and a truly loving soul.
- The Name of Buddha, or The Name of God (神 名前) written in 1835, Seiji Koga devotes his mind to religious study and the interactions of God and the natural world. The first half of this book was written in two days in the early part of 1835--Koga sat on a beach observing seagulls, and did not eat until he was finished with his writing; he wrote through the night with only the moon as his light.
- Spring Haiku, nearing the end of his life, Seiji Koga earned his title as 単語 上昇 太陽 (word for the rising sun), devoting himself to contemplative activity. He wrote a ten-volume set of Haiku, a magnificent epic, including a volume devoted to a contemplation of each day of the year. Another volume, entitled 蘭愛 (Orchid Love) is perhaps the most interesting. It is also the only volume of Seiji Koga's haiku that we have a complete edition of.
- Letters of Seiji Koga (Uncollected). Never published or collected into a single volume, we know of a number of letters from Seiji Koga, including an epistolary essay written to a supposed son of Florian Von Banier, a letter to the English scientist Charles Babbage on the subject of machine calculation, and a series of letters to the French engineer Sadi Carnot, known popularly for his work on developing the steam engine, the final solution to which he probably owes to a Seiji Koga.
I will node what I have of these works as I digitize them, and as time permits.