Tada Chimako

Born in 1930 in Kita-Kyūshū City, Fukuoka, Japan, Tada Chimako spent most of her youth in Tokyo during the tumultuous years of the second World War. She attended college at Tokyo Women’s Christian University where she studied French literature and formed friendships with other poets and intellectuals. Upon graduation, Tada enrolled in Keio Gijiku University to further her studies of literature.

In 1954, Tada became a member of Mitei, a magazine formed by poets and writers of the Japanese avant-garde. In 1956, she married Kato Nobuyuki, with whom she moved to Kobe, a quiet town in western Japan. That same year, her first book of poems, Hanabi was published. She continued to write while living on the outskirts of city life, in relative isolation.

Tada authored more than fifteen books of poetry in Japanese and was also a prominent translator of French literature, most notably of the poet Marguerite Yourcenar. Her Japanese translation of Yourcenar’s Memoires d’Hadrien was published to critical acclaim. Tada’s own work, which frequently referenced Greek, Latin, Chinese, and Japanese classical literature, concerned itself with the psychology of women in both mythology and the modern world. Her work took on several different poetic forms, including prose poetry, tanka, and haiku, demonstrating her fluidity with both classical and contemporary modes. She also published several books of essays on cultural theory, ancient thought, and mythology.

Tada was the recipient of several Japanese awards, including the Modern Poetry Women’s Prize for her book, Hasu Kuibito, the Kobe Municipal Cultural Prize for her contributions to local culture, and the Hanatsubaki Prize for Modern Poetry for Kawa no hotori ni.

In the 1970s, Tada taught French and European literary history at Kobe College. In 1986, she served as poet in residence at Oakland University in Michigan where she taught modern Japanese literature. In 1987, she was appointed as an instructor of French literature at Eichi University in Amagasaki where she also went on to teach religious studies in the university’s graduate school up until two years before her death in 2003.