Tokutomi Roka, pseudonym of Tokutomi Kenjiro, (born Dec. 8, 1868, Minamata, Japan--died Sept. 18, 1927, Ikaho), Japanese novelist, the younger brother of the historian Tokutomi Soho.Tokutomi worked for years as a writer for his brother's publications, but he began going his own way in 1900 on the strength of the success of his novel Hototogisu (1898; "The Cuckoo"; Eng. trans. Namiko), a melodramatic tale of tragic parental interference in a young marriage. Shizen to jinsei (1900; "Nature and Man"), a series of nature sketches, and the semiautobiographical Omoide no ki (1901; Footprints..
Ozaki Koyo, pseudonym of Ozaki Tokutaro, (born Jan. 28, 1869, Edo [now Tokyo], Japan--died Oct. 30, 1903, Tokyo), novelist, essayist, and haiku poet, one of the pioneers of modern Japanese literature.In 1885, with a group of friends, he formed the Kenyusha, a magazine and literary association that exercised a major influence in the development of the Japanese novel for nearly 20 years. Through his study of Tokugawa period (1603-1867) literature, he led a revival of interest in the 17th-century writer Ihara Saikaku, whose sharp perceptions he blended with his own poetic aesthetic to create..
Masamune Hakucho, pseudonym of Masamune Tadao, (born March 3, 1879, Bizen, Okayama prefecture, Japan--died Oct. 28, 1962, Tokyo), writer and critic who was one of the great masters of Japanese naturalist literature. Unlike others of that school, he seems to have had a basically unsentimental and skeptical view of human society that gave a notably disinterested tone to his writing.Early influenced by Christianity, Masamune went to Tokyo in 1896 to enter Tokyo Senmon Gakko (later Waseda University); he was baptized the following year. In 1903 he began writing literary, art, and cultural criticism..
Mori Ogai, pseudonym of Mori Rintaro, (born February 17, 1862, Tsuwano, Japan--died July 9, 1922, Tokyo), one of the creators of modern Japanese literature.The son of a physician of the aristocratic warrior (samurai) class, Mori Ogai studied medicine, at first in Tokyo and from 1884 to 1888 in Germany. In 1890 he published the story "Maihime" ("The Dancing Girl"), an account closely based on his own experience of an unhappy attachment between a German girl and a Japanese student in Berlin. It represented a marked departure from the impersonal fiction of preceding generations and initiated..
Kunikida Doppo, also called Kunikida Kamekichi, (born Aug. 30, 1871, Choshi, Chiba prefecture, Japan--died June 23, 1908, Chigasaki, Kanagawa prefecture), writer whose short stories, deeply imbued with a Wordsworthian awareness of nature, brought to Japanese literature a new attitude toward the individual.Kunikida grew up in southern Japan but went to Tokyo to enter Tokyo Senmon Gakko (later Waseda University), where he adopted Christianity in 1889. He had already started to read the works of Ivan Turgenev, Thomas Carlyle, and Ralph Waldo Emerson when he went in 1893 to teach school in..
Shimazaki Toson, pseudonym of Shimazaki Haruki, (born March 25, 1872, Magome, Nagano prefecture, Japan--died Aug. 22, 1943, Oiso, Kanagawa prefecture), Japanese poet and novelist, whose fiction illuminated the clash of old and new values in a Japan feverishly modernizing itself during the period of the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912).Toson was educated in Tokyo at Meiji Gakuin, where he was also baptized, although Christianity did not lastingly affect either his life or his thought. In the early 1890s he began to write poetry and joined the short-lived romantic movement of young poets and..
Izumi Kyoka, pseudonym of Izumi Kyotaro, (born Nov. 4, 1873, Kanazawa, Japan--died Sept. 7, 1939, Tokyo), prolific Japanese writer who created a distinctive, often supernatural fictional world.Kyoka was born into a family of provincial artists and artisans. He went to Tokyo in 1890, hoping to be accepted as a disciple of Ozaki Koyo, the leader of the literary scene at that time, but he was too shy to announce his presence. The next year he summoned up the courage to meet Koyo and was immediately taken in as a houseboy. He lived with Koyo until 1894. In return for cleaning the house and performing errands,..
Akutagawa Ryunosuke, pseudonym Chokodo Shujin or Gaki, (born March 1, 1892, Tokyo, Japan--died July 24, 1927, Tokyo), prolific Japanese writer known especially for his stories based on events in the Japanese past and for his stylistic virtuosity.As a boy Akutagawa was sickly and hypersensitive, but he excelled at school and was a voracious reader. He began his literary career while attending Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo), where he studied English literature from 1913 to 1916.The publication in 1915 of his short story "Rashomon" led to his introduction to Natsume..
Kawabata Yasunari, (born June 11, 1899, Osaka, Japan--died April 16, 1972, Zushi), Japanese novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. His melancholic lyricism echoes an ancient Japanese literary tradition in the modern idiom.The sense of loneliness and preoccupation with death that permeates much of Kawabata's mature writing possibly derives from the loneliness of his childhood (he was orphaned early and lost all near relatives while still in his youth). He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1924 and made his entrance into the literary world with the semiautobiographical..
Mishima Yukio, pseudonym of Hiraoka Kimitake, (born January 14, 1925, Tokyo, Japan--died November 25, 1970, Tokyo), prolific writer who is regarded by many critics as the most important Japanese novelist of the 20th century.Mishima was the son of a high civil servant and attended the aristocratic Peers School in Tokyo. During World War II, having failed to qualify physically for military service, he worked in a Tokyo factory, and after the war he studied law at the University of Tokyo. In 1948-49 he worked in the banking division of the Japanese Ministry of Finance. His first novel, Kamen no kokuhaku..
Fumio Niwa, Japanese novelist (born Nov. 22, 1904, Yokkaichi, Japan--died April 20, 2005, Tokyo, Japan), was one of Japan's most prolific authors and a leading Showa literary figure known for his popular and religious novels. Many of Niwa's early works included the erotic fantasies Ayu (1932; "Sweet-fish") and Zeiniku (1933; "Superfluous Flesh"), while his later pieces featured Buddhist themes. He sensationalized post-World War II Japan with Iyagarase no nenrei (1947; "The Hateful Age"), a novel critical of the Japanese tradition of venerating the elderly. His self-financed magazine..
Kume Masao, (born Nov. 23, 1891, Ueda, Japan--died March 1, 1952, Kamakura), novelist and playwright, one of Japan's most popular writers of the 1920s and '30s.As a student, Kume was associated with the writers Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Kikuchi Kan on the famous school literary journal Shinshicho ("New Currents of Thought"). He had started writing haiku in high school and published a book of poetry in 1914, but before graduating from Tokyo Imperial University in 1916, he had turned to theatre. A notable success during this time was the play Gyunyuya no kyodai (1914; "The Milkman's Younger Brother")...
Sakyo Komatsu, (Minoru Komatsu), Japanese science-fiction writer (born Jan. 28, 1931, Osaka, Japan--died July 26, 2011, Osaka), sparked international excitement with his catastrophe novel Nippon chinbotsu (1973; Japan Sinks, 1976), which sold more than four million copies in Japan, inspired two disaster films (1974; Eng. title, Tidal Wave; and 2006; Eng. title, Japan Sinks), and was translated into more than a dozen languages. Komatsu helped to establish the science-fiction genre in his country. His long and prolific career began with Chi niwa heiwa o (1963; "Peace on Earth") and was..
Ooka Shohei, (born March 6, 1909, Tokyo, Japan--died Dec. 25, 1988, Tokyo), Japanese novelist famous for his depiction of the fate of Japanese soldiers during World War II.Ooka studied French literature at Kyoto University and was profoundly influenced as a writer by Stendhal, whose works he translated into Japanese. Ooka was drafted in 1944, fought in the Philippines, and was captured by U.S. soldiers in 1945. His first novel, Furyoki (1948; "Prisoner of War"), reflects these experiences. His best-known novel is Nobi (1951; Fires on the Plain; filmed 1952), which tells the story of Tamura,..
Kobayashi Hideo, (born April 11, 1902, Tokyo, Japan--died March 1, 1983, Tokyo), one of the most influential critics in the Japanese cultural world.Kobayashi studied French literature at Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) and graduated in 1927. In the early 1930s he was associated with the novelists Kawabata Yasunari and Yokomitsu Riichi on the journal Bungaku-kai ("The Literary Circle"); he became editor in 1935, after the arrest of its editor in the growing nationalist tide before World War II. At that time Kobayashi felt literature should be relevant to society,..
Koda Rohan, pseudonym of Koda Shigeyuki, (born Aug. 20, 1867, Edo, Japan--died July 30, 1947, Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture), Japanese novelist and essayist whose stories of heroic characters balanced the more romantic tendency of his rival, Ozaki Koyo, in creating a new literature for early modern Japan.Rohan's early education was strong in the Japanese and Chinese classics, and although he was graduated from a technical school in 1884, before long he had turned to a writing career. "Furyu Butsu" (1889; "The Elegant Buddha"), a poetic tale of mystic ideal love, brought him fame. Goju no to (1891-92;..
Kamo Mabuchi, (born 1697, Iba, Japan--died Oct. 31, 1769, Edo [now Tokyo]), one of the earliest advocates of Kokugaku ("National Learning"), a movement to restore the true Japanese spirit by a return to ancient traditions and culture. The movement was revived in World War II in connection with resurgent nationalism.Mabuchi was born into a branch of the old Shinto Kamo family, who served as priests of the famous Kamo shrine near Kyoto. Under the tutelage of Shinto priests, he began a study of Japanese literature. Through his studies he became convinced of the importance of the earliest collection..
Hayashi Fumiko, original name Miyata Fumiko, (born Dec. 31, 1904, Shimonoseki, Japan--died June 28, 1951, Tokyo), Japanese novelist whose realistic stories deal with urban working-class life.Hayashi lived an unsettled life until 1916, when she went to Onomichi, where she stayed until graduation from high school in 1922. In her lonely childhood she grew to love literature, and when she went out to work she started writing poetry and children's stories in her spare time.Hayashi's own experiences of hunger and humiliation appear in her first work, Horoki (1930; "Diary of a Vagabond," published..
Sato Haruo, (born April 9, 1892, Shingu, Wakayama prefecture, Japan--died May 6, 1964, Tokyo), Japanese poet, novelist, and critic whose fiction is noted for its poetic vision and romantic imagination.Sato came from a family of physicians with scholarly and literary interests. He entered Keio University in Tokyo to study with the novelist Nagai Kafu in 1910, but he had already joined the Myojo group of poets revolving around Yosano Akiko and her husband, Tekkan, and he left Keio without graduating.He began to attract attention with the short story "Supein inu no ie" (1917; "The House of a Spanish..
Kikuchi Kan, also called Kikuchi Hiroshi, (born Dec. 26, 1888, Takamatsu, Japan--died March 6, 1948, Tokyo), playwright, novelist, and founder of one of the major publishing companies in Japan.As a student at the First Higher School in Tokyo, Kikuchi became acquainted with the future novelists Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Kume Masao. Later, while attending Kyoto Imperial University, he worked with them on the literary magazine Shinshicho ("New Currents of Thought"). His story "Mumei sakka no nikki" (1918; "Diary of an Unknown Writer") reveals frankly his envy of the success of his former classmates...
Higuchi Ichiyo, pseudonym of Higuchi Natsu, also called Higuchi Natsuko, (born May 2, 1872, Tokyo--died Nov. 23, 1896, Tokyo), poet and novelist, the most important Japanese woman writer of her period, whose characteristic works dealt with the licensed pleasure quarters of Tokyo.She had a comfortable childhood as the daughter of a low-ranking government employee. Upon the death of her father in 1889, however, she suddenly found herself the sole support of her mother and younger sister, and she lived in hardship and poverty until her own death at the age of 24. Ichiyo had studied classical literature..
Nagai Kafu, pseudonym of Nagai Sokichi, (born Dec. 3, 1879, Tokyo, Japan--died April 30, 1959, Tokyo), Japanese novelist strongly identified with Tokyo and its immediate premodern past.Rebellious as a youth, Kafu failed to finish his university studies and was sent abroad from 1903 to 1908. Before he left, he had produced three novels, which were influenced by French naturalism. After he returned to Japan he continued to be a student and translator of French literature, principally the Romantic and Symbolist poets. He also did his most important writing at this time, work which is likely to..
Endo Shusaku, (born March 27, 1923, Tokyo, Japan--died Sept. 29, 1996, Tokyo), Japanese novelist noted for his examination of the relationship between East and West through a Christian perspective.Endo became a Roman Catholic at age 11 with the encouragement of his mother and an aunt. At Keio University he majored in French literature (B.A., 1949), a subject he studied from 1950 to 1953 at the University of Lyon in France. His first collections of fiction, Shiroi hito and Kiiroi hito (both 1955; "White Man" and "Yellow Man"), indicate the direction of most of his later fiction: they contrast..
Masaoka Shiki, pseudonym of Masaoka Tsunenori, (born Oct. 14, 1867, Matsuyama, Japan--died Sept. 19, 1902, Tokyo), poet, essayist, and critic who revived the haiku and tanka, traditional Japanese poetic forms.Masaoka was born into a samurai (warrior) family. He went to Tokyo to study in 1883 and began to write poetry in 1885. After studying at Tokyo Imperial University from 1890 to 1892, he joined a publishing firm. During his brief service with the Japanese army as a correspondent during the Sino-Japanese War, the tuberculosis he had first contracted in 1889 became worse, and from that time..
Ariyoshi Sawako, (born Jan. 21, 1931, Wakayama City, Japan--died Aug. 30, 1984, Tokyo), Japanese novelist, short-story writer, and playwright who reached a popular audience with serialized novels of social realism that chronicled domestic life in Japan.Ariyoshi studied literature and theatre at the Tokyo Women's Christian College from 1949 to 1952. After graduation she joined the staff of a publishing company, contributed to literary journals, worked for a theatrical dance troupe, and began publishing short stories, as well as scripts for stage, television, and radio. Her early works..
Tsubouchi Shoyo, pseudonym of Tsubouchi Yuzo, (born June 22, 1859, Ota, Fukui prefecture, Japan--died Feb. 28, 1935, Atami), playwright, novelist, critic, and translator who occupied a prominent position in Japanese letters for nearly half a century. He wrote the first major work of modern Japanese literary criticism, Shosetsu shinzui (1885-86; The Essence of the Novel), translated the complete works of William Shakespeare, helped found the modern Japanese theatre, and was the most famous lecturer at Waseda University in Tokyo.Born near Nagoya, the youngest son of a large samurai (warrior..
Dazai Osamu, pseudonym of Tsushima Shuji, (born June 19, 1909, Kanagi, Aomori prefecture, Japan--died June 13, 1948, Tokyo), novelist who emerged at the end of World War II as the literary voice of his time. His dark, wry tone perfectly captured the confusion of postwar Japan, when traditional values were discredited and the younger generation nihilistically rejected all of the past.Born in northern Japan, the sixth son of a wealthy landowner and politician, Dazai often reverted to his background as material for his fiction. Although the dominant mood of much of his writing was gloom, he was..
Kobayashi Takiji, (born Oct. 13, 1903, Shimo Kawazoe, Japan--died Feb. 20, 1933, Tokyo), outstanding writer of the proletarian literary movement in pre-World War II Japan.Kobayashi attended Otaru (Hokkaido) Higher Commercial School, where he showed literary promise. On graduation in 1924 he took a position with a bank in Otaru, while his interest in literature grew. Kobayashi was deeply impressed by the writings of Shiga Naoya, whose realism, as well as the humanitarianism of the Shirakaba ("White Birch") group with which Shiga was associated, provided a model for his own idealistic concern..
Enchi Fumiko, (born Oct. 2, 1905, Tokyo, Japan--died Nov. 14, 1986, Tokyo), Japanese novelist best known for her depiction of women's struggles within Japanese society.Enchi Fumiko was the daughter of Ueda Kazutoshi, a prominent professor of Japanese linguistics at Tokyo University. Even as a small child, she accompanied her father to Kabuki performances, and from her grandmother she heard stories based on literature of the Tokugawa period (1603-1867). Her first interest was in the theatre, and she effectively began her literary career in 1926, when she submitted a play to a competition...
Noma Hiroshi, (born Feb. 23, 1915, Kobe, Hyogo ken [prefecture] Japan--died Jan. 2, 1991, Tokyo), Japanese novelist who wrote Shinku chitai (1952; Zone of Emptiness), which is considered to be one of the finest war novels produced after World War II.Noma was brought up to succeed his father as head priest of a Buddhist sect, but as a youth he was increasingly drawn to Marxist ideology. He became interested in French Symbolist poetry, showing strong influences of James Joyce, Andre Gide, and Marcel Proust, and before entering the University in 1935 he studied under the Symbolist poet Takeuchi..
Futabatei Shimei, pseudonym of Hasegawa Tatsunosuke, (born April 4, 1864, Edo [now Tokyo], Japan--died May 10, 1909, at sea in Bay of Bengal), Japanese novelist and translator of Russian literature. His Ukigumo (1887-89; "The Drifting Clouds," translated, with a study of his life and career, by M. Ryan as Japan's First Modern Novel: Ukigumo of Futabatei Shimei), brought modern realism to the Japanese novel.Although Futabatei wrote three novels and translated many stories, he is best known for Ukigumo, his first novel, and for his earliest translations of stories by the Russian writer Ivan..
Kanehara Hitomi, (born Aug. 8, 1983, Tokyo, Japan), Japanese novelist whose darkly explicit prose addressed the experience of being young in contemporary Japan.Kanehara temporarily stopped going to elementary school, and as a teenager she attempted suicide by cutting her wrists. She later attended writing seminars taught by her father, a university professor and translator of children's books. Kanehara eventually dropped out of high school, though she continued to write.She made her literary debut with Hebi ni piasu (2003; Snakes and Earrings), which describes a 19-year-old girl's..
Ihara Saikaku, Ihara also spelled Ibara, original name probably Hirayama Togo, (born 1642, Osaka, Japan--died Sept. 9, 1693, Osaka), poet and novelist, one of the most brilliant figures of the 17th-century revival of Japanese literature. He enchanted readers with racy accounts of the amorous and financial affairs of the merchant class and the demimonde.Saikaku first won fame for his amazing facility in composing haikai, humorous renga (linked-verse) poems from which the 17-syllable haiku was derived. In 1671 he turned out, in "a day and a night," 1,600 verses. Not satisfied with composing..
Yu Miri, (born June 22, 1968, Yokohama, Japan), award-winning Japanese author of Korean descent whose works are unsparing in their depiction of destructive family relationships involving individuals who are unable to communicate or connect with others.Yu's family was dysfunctional. Her father was a compulsive gambler who physically abused his wife and children; her mother was a bar hostess who frequently took the teenaged Yu along to parties, where Yu was occasionally molested. One of Yu's sisters became an actress in pornographic films. As a child of Zainichi (ethnic Koreans born in Japan..
Abe Kobo, pseudonym of Abe Kimifusa, (born March 7, 1924, Tokyo, Japan--died Jan. 22, 1993, Tokyo), Japanese novelist and playwright noted for his use of bizarre and allegorical situations to underline the isolation of the individual.He grew up in Mukden (now Shenyang), in Manchuria, where his father, a physician, taught at the medical college. In middle school his strongest subject was mathematics, but he was also interested in collecting insects and had begun to immerse himself in the writings of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Franz Kafka, Rainer Maria Rilke, Edgar Allan Poe, and Lewis Carroll. Abe..