Kaneko Misuzu (1903 -1930) was a Japanese poet and songwriter. Born Kaneko Teru in Senzaki-mura, now part of Nagato, Yamaguchi prefecture, Senzaki was a fishing village, relying particularly on catches of Japanese sardine. Scenes of fishing and the sea often make appearances in her poems.
Kaneko's career as a writer of poerty for children began in earnest at the age of twenty, shortly after she became the manager and sole employee of a small bookstore in Shimonoseki, a town at the southern tip of Honshu. Here she discovered a clutch of magazines which were riding the crest of a boom in children's literature and which solicited stories and verse from their readers. Kaneko sent in a number of poems, five of which, among them "The Fishes", were accepted for publication in the September 1923 issue of four of these magazines. Over the next five years she published fifty-one more verses. Her husband contracted a venereal disease from the pleasure quarters, and she divorced him. Her husband at first agreed to let her bring up their daughter on her own, but later changed his mind and attempted to gain custody of the child. In protest, she committed suicide, writing a letter to her husband before she did so, asking him to let her mother bring up the child, as she felt that she wasn't of proper mental capacity to do so. Kaneko has been compared to Christina Rossetti.
Five hundred and twelve verses written in Kaneko's own hand, in three notebooks, were brought to light in 1982 by Yazaki Setsuko, and the entire collection was published by JULA Publishing Bureau in a six-volume anthology.
“Me, the little bird, and the bell”
Even if I stretch out arms,
I can’t fly into the sky,
But the little bird who can fly,
Cannot run fast along the ground like me.
Even if I shake my body,
No beautiful sound comes out,
But the ringing bell does not
Know many songs like me.
The bell, the little bird and finally me:
We’re all different, but we’re all good.