4th Asahi Awards for the Theater Arts announced (January 5, 2005)
Winners of the 4th Asahi Awards for the Theater Arts have been published in the Asahi Shinbun. The Grand Prix will go to the New National Theatre's production of Eugene O'Neil's Mourning Becomes Elektra. The Theater Arts Prize will be awarded to a total of five different individuals and organizations; the Terayama Shūji Prize has been won by Kondō Ryōhei for his work on the play Big Wednesday; the Akimoto Matsuyo Prize will go to Miyamoto Amon for his direction of Into the Woods; and and a Special Achievement Award will be presented to actress Mori Mitsuko in recognition of her many achievements as a performer. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on January 31.
132nd Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (January 13, 2005)
The 132nd Akutagawa Prize has been won by Abe Kazushige for Gurando finaare (Grand Finale, published in the December 2004 issue of Gunzō). The 132nd Naoki Prize will go to Kakuta Mitsuyo for Taigan no kanojo (Woman on the Other Shore, published by Bungei Shunjū). Abe had been a candidate for the Akutagawa Prize three times before, and in 2003 he received the Itō Sei Prize for Literature for Shinsemia (Sin Semillas). Kakuta, who has won a number of other literary awards, was previously unsuccessful in three nominations for the Akutagawa Prize and two nominations for the Naoki Prize. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on February 18.
6th Shogakukan Paperback-Novel Prize announced (January 30, 2005)
The 6th Shogakukan Paperback-Novel Prize has been won by 15-year-old Kawasaki Manami for Anata e (To You). Kawasaki is a first-year high school student who began writing while in junior high, and one can perhaps be forgiven for thinking that the publishers are hoping to cash in on her youth by one-upping last year's Akutagawa Prize winners Wataya Risa and Kanehara Hitomi. The selection committee for the prize consists of the literary-section editing staff of the paperback division at Shogakukan, who this year chose from among 571 manuscripts submitted by aspiring novelists. Kawasaki's novel, a story of lost love, will be published this spring.
Rising Kabuki star Nakamura Shichinosuke arrested after assaulting police officer (January 31, 2005)
Nakamura Shichinosuke, 21-year-old second son of popular Kabuki actor Nakamura Kankurō, was arrested on the morning of January 30 after striking a police officer who had been summoned when Shichinosuke refused to pay his taxi fare. The young actor, who played the role of Emperor Meiji in the film The Last Samurai, had spent the night partying with friends after the official reception that was held to announce his father's assumption of the stage name Nakamura Kanzaburō.
Aftermath of Nakamura Shichinosuke incident (February 23, 2005)
The Shōchiku Company announced yesterday that Kabuki actor Nakamura Shichinosuke would not be appearing in the special March Kabuki program planned to inaugurate the career of his father, Nakamura Kankurō, as Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII. The company said that it was acting in compliance with the wishes of Kankurō, who on January 30 held a press conference to apologize for his son's behavior earlier the same day.
20th Museum of Contemporary Japanese Poetry, Tanka and Haiku Prizes announced (March 1, 2005)
The 20th Museum of Contemporary Japanese Poetry, Tanka and Haiku Prizes will be awarded in the following categories. For contemporary poetry, Iijima Kōichi's Amerika (America, published by Shinchōsha); for tanka, Miya Eiko's Seiiki sarasa (Calico from Western China, published by Hiiragi Shobō); for haiku, Hayashi Shō's Kōnen (Light Years, published by Furansudō). The presentation ceremony will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Japanese Poetry, Tanka and Haiku in Kitakami, Iwate Prefecture, on May 28.
Suspended indictment announced for Nakamura Shichinosuke (March 3, 2005)
It was reported today that the Tokyo Public Prosecutor's Office decided on February 28 to shelve an indictment against Kabuki actor Nakamura Shichinosuke (see above). The prosecutor's office made its decision based on its conclusion that Shichinosuke had acted under the influence of alcohol and his behavior was not premeditated.
Nakamura Kankurō officially takes the name Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII (March 3, 2005)
Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII, the former Kankurō V, made his official stage debut today at the Kabukiza in Tokyo. During the traditional announcement segment of the program, Kanzaburō promised to make a fresh start and work steadily to improve his skills as an actor. Kanzaburō thus follows in the footsteps of his father-- the 17th Kanzaburō, who died in 1988--and the other actors who have performed under the same name dating back to Kanzaburō I (ca. 1598-1658).
55th Mr. H Prize announced (March 5, 2005)
The 55th Mr. H Prize has been won by Yamamoto Junko for her anthology Amanogawa (The Milky Way, published by Kajinsha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on May 28.
39th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature and 26th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers announced (March 7, 2005)
The 39th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature will go to Kitahara Aiko for her novel Yoru no akeru made (Until the Break of Dawn, published by Kōdansha). The 26th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers will be awarded to Onda Takashi for Yoru no pikuniku (Night Picnic, published by Shinchōsha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on April 11.
Nakamura Shichinosuke to perform again from April (March 12, 2005)
Kabuki actor Nakamura Shichinosuke, who has not performed publicly since his arrest in January for assaulting a police officer, will return to the stage in April to take part in the second special Kabuki program being held at the Kabukiza to celebrate the debut of his father as Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII. However, it has been announced that he will only be appearing during the traditional announcement segment and in a single role during the evening performance; the leading role in the matinee will go to his brother, Nakamura Kantarō.
10th Terayama Shūji Prize for Tanka and 1st Kuzuhara Taeko Prize announced (April 4, 2005)
The 10th Terayama Shūji Prize for Tanka will be awarded to Itō Kazuhiko for his collection Shingetsu no mitsu (New-Moon Honey, published by Ganshokan). The 1st Kuzuhara Taeko Prize will go to Konno Sumi for her collection Ryūteki (The Chinese Flute, published by Teragoya Shobō). The presentation ceremony for both awards will be held in Tokyo on May 20.
Waseda Bungaku changes format, becomes a "free paper" (April 13, 2005)
The bimonthly literary journal Waseda Bungaku, founded in 1891 by Tsubouchi Shōyō, has published its last issue in its current commercial format, according to an announcement carried in the May issue. Instead, it will be converting to a free, bimonthly A4-newspaper format for the next two years, while also putting out one annual issue in magazine format, as it continues to reexamine its publication policy. Waseda Bungaku has a budget of about 1.4 million yen a year -- made possible through a combination of departmental funding, advertising income, and sales -- but it has been able to make ends meet only by paying writers a mere 500 yen per 400-character page for manuscripts and student staffers a paltry 10,000 yen per month for up to 70 hours of work a week.
31st Kawabata Yasunari Prize for Literature announced (April 18, 2005)
The 31st Kawabata Yasunari Prize for Literature will be going to Tsujihara Noboru for Kareha no naka no aoi honoo (Blue Flames Among the Dry Leaves, published in the August 2004 issue of Shinchō). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 24.
12th Matsumoto Seichō Prize announced (April 20, 2005)
The 12th Matsumoto Seichō Prize has been won by Jōno Takashi for the unpublished period novel Ichimaizuri-ya (The Block-Print Maker). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 16.
Death of Niwa Fumio (April 20, 2005)
Novelist Niwa Fumio, whose stories typically depicted contemporary manners and love-hate relationships among relatives, died of pneumonia not long after midnight in his Musashino City home in Tokyo. Niwa became a popular author in the 1930s, and his work was frequently banned as obscene during the Second World War. The title of the 1947 story Iyagarase no nenrei (The Hateful Years) passed into popular usage. Niwa later turned to writing lengthy biographical works on such prominent medieval Buddhist figures as Shinran and Rennyo. He began showing symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in the mid-1980s, and a 1988 account of his battle with prostate cancer was his last published work. Niwa was 100 years old.
12th Japan Horror Story Grand Prize announced (April 23, 2005)
The 12th Japan Horror Story Grand Prize has been won by Tsunekawa Kōichirō for Yoichi (Night Market). The award's companion prizes, the Japan Horror Novel Prize and the Japan Horror Short Story Prize, will go to ōyama Naotoshi for Chuuingubōn (Chewing Bone) and to Asegonoman (apparently a one-word pen name) for Yo wa ika ni shite Hattori Hiroshi to narishi ka (How I Became Hattori Hiroshi), respectively. All of the prizes are awarded for previously unpublished work; the presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo at the end of October.
New poem by Yosa Buson discovered (May 6, 2005)
A hitherto unknown hokku by haikai poet Yosa Buson (1716-83) has been found among documents left to an undisclosed private owner by the owner's grandfather, a native of Hyogo Prefecture. The verse is one of four contained in a single-sheet holographic draft manuscript measuring 24 centimeters wide by 15 centimeters high under the heading "Welcoming the New Year" (shunkyō -- more literally, "spring entertainment " or "spring pleasures," referring specifically to hokku composed at a haikai gathering held at the traditional beginning of the new year). Two of the verses are already known and a third is a variant of a known hokku, but the fourth has never been collected before. The new verse is harusame ya/ominaeshi nando/me ni izuru (spring rain--/the wild pink and other herbs/have put forth new shoots). The discovery will be included in the final volume of the edition of Buson's collected works currently being published by Kōdansha.
Letters by Nakajima Utako discovered (May 7, 2005)
Three letters written by Nakajima Utako -- the tanka poet who mentored Higuchi Ichiyō at the Haginoya school-- have been discovered at the Sakado City, Saitama Prefecture, home of a family descendent. The letters, which were apparently sent to Nakajima's older brother Kōzaburō, include a request by Utako to allow her to adopt Kōzaburō's oldest daughter. The letters include one that may have been written as early as 1865, and their discovery lends support to the theory that Utako was originally from the village of Morido (now Sakado City) rather than from Tokyo.
18th Mishima Yukio and Yamamoto Shūgorō Prizes announced (May 17, 2005)
The 18th Mishima Yukio Prize has been won by Kashimada Maki for 6000-do no ai (Love at 6,000 Degrees, published in the February issue of Shinchō). The 18th Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize will go to Ogiwara Hiroshi for Ashita no kioku (Tomorrow's Memories, published by Kōbunsha). The presentation ceremony will be held on June 24 in Tokyo.
Yahoo Japan establishes a new literary award (July 13, 2005)
Yahoo Japan has announced that it is establishing a prize for fiction, to be called the Yahoo Japan Prize, based on voting conducted over the Internet. Entries on a given topic will first be submitted to a special portal site and shortlisted by a selection committee of publishing professionals. The 10 works thus chosen will be subjected to a month-long online voting process. The entry that earns the most votes during that period will become the winner and will subsequently be published by Yahoo in digital form and also appear in the literary journal Kirara. The prize carries with it a cash award of 200,000 yen. The application period for the first Yahoo Japan Prize is from July 14 to September 30, with the shortlist to be announced in November and the award to be presented in January 2006. The assigned topic is "Tomorrow," and entries must be from 6,000 to 8,000 characters in length. Entry is open to both amateurs and professionals, but the "manuscript" must be previously unpublished work. Yahoo Japan eventually hopes to increase the scope of the award, which will be presented three or four times a year.
133rd Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (July 14, 2005)
The 133rd Akutagawa Prize will go to Nakamura Fuminori for Tsuchi no naka no kodomo (Child in the Dirt, published in the April edition of Shinchō). The 133rd Naoki Prize has been won by Shukawa Minato for Hana-manma (Flower-shaped Rice, published by Bungei Shunjū). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on August 19.
15th Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Literature announced (August 12, 2005)
The 15th Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Literature has been won by Tsushima Yūko for her novel Nara repōto (Report from Nara, published by Bungei Shunjū). Tsushima's novel centers on a young man's memories of his dead mother, shifting in time between the present and the medieval past to explore questions of traditional culture and history. The presentation ceremony will be held in Uji City on November 13.
13th Hagiwara Sakutarō Prize announced (September 16, 2005)
The 13th Hagiwara Sakutarō Prize will go to Arakawa Yōji for his collection Shinri (Psychology, published by Misuzu Shobō). Arakawa was praised by the selection committee for the freshness of his style, including such techniques as making a postal code the narrator of one of the poems. The presentation ceremony will be held in the city of Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, on October 28.
18th Shibata Renzaburō Prize announced (October 4, 2005)
Hashimoto Osamu's Chō no yukue (What Happened to the Butterflies, published by Shūeisha) will receive the 18th Shibata Renzaburō Prize. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on November 17; Hashimoto will be given a cash prize of 3 million yen.
Ōe Kenzaburō Prize established (October 4, 2005)
The Kōdansha publishing company has announced the establishment of a new literary award to be called the Ōe Kenzaburō Prize. Ōe himself will choose the winning entry, which will be a work that shows both potential and accomplishment in its use of "literary language" (bungaku no kotoba). The prize carries no cash award, although the winning entry will be translated into English and published worldwide. Works published from January through December 2006 will be eligible for the initial prize, which will be announced in May 2007.
Izumi Motoya turns pro wrestler (October 11, 2005)
The currently disgraced kyōgen performer Izumi Motoya has announced that he will make a debut as a professional wrestler in Yokohama on November 3. Izumi will appear as part of a special "Hussle" event sponsored by Dream Stage Entertainment, which is known for arranging high name-value fighting cards. Izumi is apparently working on a secret "aerial Motoya chop" to use as his signature fighting technique; his opponent will be a Japanese wrestler active on the American WWE professional wrestling circuit.
33rd Izumi Kyōka Prize announced (October 17, 2005)
The 33rd Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature has been won by Ryō Michiko for Rakuen no tori (Bird of Paradise, published by Kōdansha). The presentation ceremony will be held In Kanazawa, Kyōka's birthplace, on November 22.
58th Noma Prize for Literature announced (November 7, 2005)
The 58th Noma Prize for Literature will be awarded to Murakami Ryū for his novel Hantō o deyo (Leave the Peninsula, published by Gentōsha), about the takeover of Fukuoka by a small group of North Korean soldiers who style themselves a rebel army and attempt to set up a sovereign state. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on December 16.
Kabukiza to be rebuilt (November 16, 2005)
The Shōchiku company has announced that it has decided to rebuild the venerable Kabukiza theater in Ginza, Tokyo. The company will take two years to plan the new building in consultation with community leaders and others, and the construction itself is expected to take three years more, meaning that the new theater should be finished in 2010. The current Kabukiza was built in 1950, with performances starting in 1951, and is clearly showing its age, as anyone who has sat in its very cramped seats can testify (although walking across the hanamichi to get to the concession area during intermissions is something of a treat). A different site will be found for performances given during the lengthy construction period.
Supplementary volume to Mishima's complete works to be published (November 24, 2005)
In conjunction with the 35th anniversary of the death of Mishima Yukio, the Shinchōsha publishing company will next month issue a supplementary volume to the most recent edition of author's collected works that will contain juvenilia, notes, and other previously unpublished material. Publication of the collection itself began in November 2000, reaching 42 volumes, but additional material at the Mishima Yukio Museum in Yamanashi Prefecture has been sufficiently collated to make publication of this supplementary volume possible.