fuyu zo sabishisa
hitome mo kusa mo
karenu to omoeba
In a mountain village
winter is when one's sadness
grows truly deep--
so it seems once visits have ceased
and grasses have withered away.
148th Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (January 16, 2013)
The 148th Akutagawa Prize will be awarded to Kuroda Natsuko for her story ab-sango (a-b-san-go, published in the September 2012 issue of Waseda Bungaku [issue no. 5]). Kuroda, who is 75 years old, is the oldest writer ever to receive the award. Although she earlier wrote for coterie magazines, her last published fiction dates to the 1970s. The 148th Naoki Prize will be shared by Asai Ryō, for Nanimono (Who Is It?, published by Shinchōsha) and Abe Ryūtarō, for Tōhaku (Hasegawa Tōhaku, published Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha). The presentation ceremony will be held on February 23 in Tokyo.
Death of Ichikawa Danjūrō (February 3, 2013)
Kabuki actor Ichikawa Danjūrō XII died today of pneumonia in a hospital in Tokyo, where he had been hospitalized since last December. Danjūrō was stricken with an acute leukemia in 2004 and had received a bone-marrow transplant from his sister in 2008. Following closely the death of the 57-year-old Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII on December 5 of last year, Danjūrō's unexpected demise has sent shock waves through theater circles and Japanese society as a whole. Danjūrō was 66 years old.
Kawabata Yasunari manuscript discovered (February 13, 2013)
The holograph of an unpublished short story written by Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) has been discovered among documents purchased in 2010 by Tsurumi University in Yokohama. The story bears the title Kin’ō no kami (God of Loyalty to the Emperor) and deals with the life of the late-Edo-period Shintoist Inoue Masakane. What is probably a publisher’s seal and the handwritten date December 26, 1928 (in another hand) appear on the manuscript, making it likely that Kawabata wrote the story that same year.
Kabikiza theater reopens following reconstruction (April 2, 2013)
The fifth incarnation of the Ginza Kabukiza theater reopened today after close to three years of reconstruction. The facade closely resembles that of the previous Kabukiza (built in 1951), but a 29-story building now rises at the rear. Sixty-three kabuki actors took part in a parade in Ginza on February 27 to commemorate the impending event. A special series of performances (known as kokeotoshi kōen) has also been inaugurated and will continue until March 2014. An introduction to the new facilities can be found on the Kabukiza home page.
Printed copies of Murakami Haruki’s latest novel pass the million mark (April 18, 2013)
The print run of Murakami Haruki’s Shikisai o motanai Tasaki Tsukuru to kare no junrei no toshi (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, published by Bungei Shunjū) has passed one million copies, just a week after the novel’s publication. This is five days faster than was the case for the third volume of 1Q84, which Murakami published in 2010, and Bungei Shunjū has now added two extra printings to the original printing of 800,000 copies to meet the demand for the novel by Japanese readers.
149th Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (July 17, 2012)
The 149th Akutagawa Prize has been won by Fujino Kaori for the story Tsume to me (Fingernails and Eyes, published in the April issue of Shinchō). The 149th Naoki Prize will go to Sakuragi Shino for Hoteru Rooyaru (Hotel Royal, published by Shūeisha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo in mid-August.
Photograph of model for Mori Ōgai's "The Dancer" discovered (August 30, 2013)
It has been reported that the writer Rokusō Ichika, who in 2011 identified Polish-born Elise Marie Caroline Wiegert as the model for Mori Ōgai's 1890 story, Maihime (The Dancer), has now unearthed a photograph of Wiegert by tracking down a descendant of Wiegert's younger sister. The postcard-size photograph shows Wiegert standing with her husband possibly sometime between 1908 and 1918, when she would have been between 41 and 52 years old. Rokusō will publish her findings in September in a book titled Sorekara no Erisu (What Happened to Elise, Kōdansha).
Letters from Shimazaki Tōson discovered in Russia (October 21, 2013)
Two letters sent by novelist Shimazaki Tōson (1872-1943) to Natalalia Feldman, the translator of the 1955 Russian version of his novel Hakai (The Broken Commandment, 1906) have been discovered at the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow. One of the letters is a short note in English agreeing to the translation, while the other is a longer message in Japanese touching on the background to the novel. The letters had been mistakenly classified by the Archive and were discovered by Ōta Jōtarō, a professor at Kumamoto Gakuen University in Kyūshū, while he was conducting unrelated research there.