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1892 - 1970

Saijo was born in Tokyo in 1892. In 1909 he entered Waseda University to study English language and literature, but soon dropped out, being disappointed by the lectures. Later he also studied French. In 1911 he re-enrolled at Waseda and in 1914 joined the "Mirai" coterie led by poet Miki Rofu and composer Yamada Kosaku. In 1915 he graduated from Waseda and founded the magazine Shijin [Poets] with Horiguchi Daigaku and Hinatsu Konosuke. In 1918 he began writing children's song lyrics for Akai tori [Red Bird], which had been inaugurated that July, at the request of its founder Suzuki Miekichi. His lyrics "Kanariya" [Canary], printed in the November issue of Akai tori that year, were put to music by Narita Tamezo and became one of the best known songs produced by Akai tori. The song is still popularly known as one of the leading children's songs of the Taisho era (1912-26). Saijo began teaching in the English literature department at Waseda University in 1921. After his lyrics, "Boku no boshi" [My Cap], appeared in the second issue of the picture magazine Kodomo no kuni [Children's Land] the following year, he went on to contribute many song lyrics and poems to the magazine. He took charge of the children's songs column in the magazine Dowa [Children's Tales] in 1922. He also translated and introduced to Japan many English nursery songs as well as the works of de la Mare and other overseas poets. Starting in 1924 he studied at the Sorbonne for two years. Returning home he taught in the French literature department at Waseda University, first as associate professor and in 1931 as full professor. His many years of research culminated in Aruchuru Ranbo ron [A Study of Arthur Rimbaud] (1967).