Kokoro Literary Elements


Literary fiction

Setting and Context

Meiji era Japan

Narrator and Point of View

The entire book is written in the first person. In the first half, the narrator is an unnamed student, and in the second half, Sensei writes about his own life.

Tone and Mood

The first half of the book, from the narrator's point of view, depicts Sensei as an enigmatic character with a great hidden sadness. In the second half, Sensei's tragic past is revealed. Throughout the book, significant attention is paid to the psychologies of the narrator and Sensei.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Narrator (protagonist), Sensei (protagonist), loneliness & misanthropy (antagonist)

Major Conflict

Sensei struggles with his sense of loneliness and misanthropy.


The narrator receives Sensei's testament, at the end of which the man states that he has decided to commit suicide.


Sensei speaks often of death and guilt, at one point distressing his wife by asking her what she would do after he died.


Sensei often downplays his own emotional complexity and intelligence in his conversations with the narrator.


The historical events of Emperor Meiji's death and General Nogi's suicide figure prominently.


Significant attention is paid to the beautiful solitary scenes of nature in which Sensei and the narrator talk.


Sensei is deeply distrustful of the entire world including himself, but he still loves his wife deeply and trusts the narrator.


The narrator's father's sickness and Sensei's depression follow the course of Emperor Meiji's sickness.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The narrator imagines Sensei represented by the light of his house which shines alone amidst the dark city before it is extinguished.