José de Sousa de Moraes
was born in Lisbon on the 30th May
studying at the Naval College he served aboard several war ships of the
Portuguese Navy. In 1885 he traveled for the first time to Macao, where he settled. There he was Deputy to the
Captain of the Harbor, and teacher of Macao Secondary School since its
creation in 1894. While there he married Vong-Io-Chan (aka Atchan), a Chinese woman of whom he had two sons, and established a friendship with Camilo
Pessanha, a celebrated poet.
Meanwhile, in 1889, he traveled for the first time
to Japan, a country that charmed him, and where he will return, in
official duty, several times in the next years. In 1897 he visits Japan
with the Governor of Macao, and was received by the Emperor Meiji. The
following year he deserted Atchan and his two sons, and moved to Japan,
as consul in Kobe.
life there is marked by his literary activity and by the chronicles he
sends to several Portuguese newspapers and magazines, by is love
relations with two Japanese women (Ó-Yoné Fukumoto and Ko-Haru), and
by its increasing "japonisation".
the next thirty years Wenceslau de Moraes was to be the great Portuguese
source of information about the East, sharing his intimate experiences
of day-to-day life in Japan with its readers in Portugal, in a parallel
activity to that of Lafcadio Hearn, of whom he was a contemporary.
by the death, due to illness, of Ó-Yoné, Wenceslau de Moraes renounced
is post as consul, and moved to Tokushima, her birth place. There he lived with
a niece of Ó-Yoné, with whom he shared his life until her death, also
due to illness.
There he started to dress, eat and live like the
Japanese, against a backdrop of growing hostility from the local
lonely, and with a deteriorating health, Wenceslau de Moraes passed
away, in Tokushima, in the 1st July 1929, without having
ever returned to Europe.