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Archives 2006

January - March 2006

134th Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (January 17, 2006)

The 134th Akutagawa Prize has been won by Itoyama Akiko for Oki de matsu (Waiting Offshore, published in the September issue of Bungakukai). The 134th Naoki Prize will go to Higashino Keigo for Yōgisha X no kenshin (The Devotion of Suspect X, published by Bungei Shunjū). Both authors have previously received multiple nominations for the awards. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on February 17.

56th Mr. H Prize announced (March 4, 2006)

The 56th Mr. H Prize for poetry has been won by Aizawa Shōichirō for the collection Parunassosu e no tabi (Journey to Parnassus, published by Shoshi Yamada). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 3.

27th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers announced (March 6, 2006)

The 27th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers will go to Konno Bin for his Inpei sōsa (Whitewash, published by Shinchōsha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on April 11. No award was given for the 40th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature.

21st Museum of Contemporary Japanese Poetry, Tanka and Haiku Prize announced (March 9, 2006)

The 21st Museum of Contemporary Japanese Poetry, Tanka and Haiku Prize has been won by the following three poets: for poetry, Irisawa Yasuo for Aruboraada (Alvorada, published by Shoshi Yamada); for tanka, Inaba Kyōko for Tsubaki no yakata (The Camellia Mansion, published by Tanka Kenkyūsha); for haiku, Fukami Kenji for Nichigetsu (Sun and Moon, published by Furansudō). The presentation ceremony will by held in Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture, on May 27.

Murakami Haruki calls unauthorized sale of manuscripts theft (March 10, 2006)

Novelist Murakami Haruki, writing in the April issue of Bungei Shunjū, has condemned as theft the unauthorized sale of his manuscripts by a former editor at Chūō Kōronsha. Until 1988, when he started using a word processor, Murakami submitted handwritten manuscripts to the editor. Murakami later found some these manuscripts being offered for sale on the Internet. In 2003, one of them -- that of his translation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Ice Palace -- was listed for sale by a bookshop in Kanda for over $10,000. Murakami notes that some of the manuscripts were for works he later decided not to publish, and he says that although he had previously decided against raising the issue, he now feels compelled to speak out. The editor accused of selling the manuscripts died in 2003.


April - June 2006

3rd Booksellers' Prize announced (April 5, 2006)

The 3rd Booksellers' Prize, awarded annually to a work selected by surveying booksellers nationwide, has been won by Lily Franky (the second half of his name is based on Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but the author uses the spelling "Franky" on his home page) for Tokyo tawā -- okan to boku to tokidoki oton(Tokyo Tower: Mom and Me, and Occasionally Dad, published by Fusōsha). Award presentation now coincides with the announcement.

37th Ōya Sōichi Prize for Nonfiction announced (April 11, 2006)

The 37th Ōya Sōichi Prize for Nonfiction will be shared by Okuno Shūji, for Natsuko -- Okinawa mitsubōeki no joō (Natsuko, Smuggling Queen of Okinawa, published by Bungei Shinjū), and Hashikake Kumiko, for Chiru zo kanashiki -- Iōjima sōshikikan Kuribayashi Tadamichi (The Sad Scattering of Blossoms: Kuribayashi Tadamichi, Japanese Commander at Iwo Jima, published by Shinchōsha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 15.

25th Nitta Jirō Prize for Literature announced (April 12, 2006)

The 25th Nitta Jirō Prize for Literature has been won by Shinbo Yūichi for Haiiro no kitakabe (The Gray Northern Face, published by Kōdansha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on May 30.

32nd Yasunari Kawabata Prize for Literature announced (April 14, 2006)

The 32nd Yasunari Kawabata Prize for Literature will go to Kakuta Mitsuyo for Rokku haha (Rock Mama, published in the December 2005 issue of Gunzō). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 23. Kakuta has previously won a number of literary prizes, including the 132nd Naoki Prize for Taigan no kanojo (Woman on the Other Shore).

13th Matsumoto Seichō Prize announced (April 19, 2006)

The 13th Matsumoto Seichō Prize has been won by Hirokawa Jun for Ichiō no suitei (Presumption). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 16. Starting with 2004, the prize has been awarded to previously unpublished work; the winning entry is subsequently published by Bungei Shunjū.

10th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prizes announced (May 9, 2006)

Winners of the 10th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prizes have been announced in four categries. The Grand Prize for Manga has been won by Azuma Hideo, for Shissō nikki (Diary of a Disappearance); the New Life Prize goes to Higuchi Asa, for ōkiku furikabutte (Take a Big Windup); the Short Comics Prize goes to Itō Risa, for manga includingOnna ippiki neko futari (A Woman and Two Cats); and the Special Award is being given to Ono Kōsei for his work in introducing foreign comics to Japan.

59th Mystery Writers of Japan Prize announced (May 16, 2006)

Winners of the 59th Mystery Writers of Japan Prize have been announced in four categories. In the category for long fiction or series of short stories, the winner is Onda Riku, for Yūjinia (Eugenia, published by Kadokawa Shoten). In the short-story category, the winner is Hirayama Yumeaki, for Dokuhaku suru yunibaasaru yoko-Merukatoru (Monolog by a Universal Transverse Mercator Projection, published in a separate anthology by Kōbunsha). For criticism and other genres, the winners are Gōhara Hiroshi, for Matsumoto Seichō jiten: ketteiban (The Definitive Matsumoto Seichō Dictionary, published by Kadokawa Gakugei Shuppan), and Shibata Tetsutaka, for Shimoyama Jiken: saigo no shōgen (The Shimoyama Incident: Final Testimony, published by Shōdensha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 27.

52nd Edogawa Ranpo Prize announced (May 16, 2006)

The 52nd Edogawa Ranpo Prize has been won by Kaburagi Ren for Tōkyō damoi (Back to Tokyo and Hayase Ran for Sannenzaka: hi no yume (Three Year Hill: Dreams of Fire). The two winners will split a cash award of 10 million yen. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on September 15.

17th Itō Sei Prize for Literature announced (May 16, 2006)

The 17th Itō Sei Prize for Literature in the fiction category will go to Shimada Masahiko for Taihai shimai (Decadent Sisters, published by Bungei Shunjū). The winner in the criticism category is Kawanishi Masaaki, for Takeda Taijun den (Biography of Takeda Taijun, published by Kōdansha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Otaru, Hokkaido, on June 16.

Death of Imamura Shohei (May 30, 2006)

Imamura Shohei, the director of such prize-winning films as Narayama-bushi kō (Ballad of Narayama, 1983) and Unagi (The Eel, 1997), died today in Tokyo of a metastastic tumor of the liver. Imamura underwent surgery for treatment of colon cancer in June of last year, and although he had returned home to convalesce, he was forced to reenter the hospital last month. Imamura was 79 years old.

House rented by Tanizaki Jun'ichirō to be relocated (June 3, 2006)

The rented house in Kobe's Higashi Nada ward where Tanizaki Jun'ichirō lived for two years beginning in 1924 has been saved from demolition and will now be relocated instead. The Western-style house, which served as the model for the one described in Chijin no ai (A Fool's Love) and is often referred to as "Naomi's House," was opened to the public prior to its scheduled destruction in April. One of the visitors, Norioka Hiromu, the president of a construction firm and a devoted Tanizaki fan, offered to relocate it at no cost to the public. Dismantling of the house started today, and although negotiations regarding its final location are still underway, the most likely candidate is the same park in Higashi Nada where Tanizaki's famous self-designed house is currently being reconstructed (the house was destroyed in the 1995 Kobe Earthquake; half of the cost of reconstruction is also being borne by Norioka).

Manga by Tezuka Osamu discovered (June 5, 2006)

Five short manga published by Tezuka Osamu in 1947 and 1948 -- each between three and 12 panels in length -- have been found among the periodicals in the University of Maryland's Gordon W. Prange Collection by Waseda University associate professor Tanikawa Takeshi. No listing of these works had ever been made, so their existence had been forgotten. An additional discovery was made of a 16-page manga titled Hans to kin no kaminoke (Hans and the Golden Hair), published in the January 1949 issue of Manga to yomimono (Manga and Stories). This manga,which takes the style of an illustrated fairy tale, was previously known only by its title. The discovery of these works should help to fill a gap in what is known of Tezuka's early career following his debut as a manga artist in 1946.

Death of Kondō Yoshimi (June 6, 2006)

Tanka poet Kondō Yoshimi, who for almost 50 years helped select poems that were published in the Asahi Shinbun newspaper, has died of heart failure at a hospital in Tokyo. Kondō, who established himself as an important poet shortly after the end of World War Two, helped launch the careers of many other poets in his role as editor of the magazine Mirai (The Future), which he founded in 1951. Kondō was 93 years old.

Izumi Motoya's company accused of tax evasion (June 27, 2006)

The company formed to manage the affairs of Kyogen performer, actor, and sometime wrestler Izumi Motoya has been accused of evading taxes on over 150 million yen (about 1.3 million dollars) in income over a five-year period from 1999 to 2004. The company allegedly funneled receipts from various sources into a number of off-ledger bank accounts. The company's managing director (Motoya's mother, Setsuko) attributes the problem to a difference in interpretation of the tax code. The incident is the latest in a series of scandals and rumors surrounding the young performer (first mentioned in May 2002), whose legal attempt to challenge the demand of the Japan Noh Association (in October 2002) for him to resign from the organization reached a dead end on June 9, when the Japanese Supreme Court refused to hear his case on appeal.

Winner of Japanese literary prize with largest cash award in history announced (June 30, 2006)

The 1st Poplar Publishing Grand Prize for Fiction, sponsored by Poplar Publishing, has been won by Katabami Daishi for San-pun nijūroku-byō booizu: boku to haru to kōmori to (The Three-Minute Twenty-six-Second Boys: Spring, the Bats, and Me). The prize carries with it the largest cash award ever offered in Japan for a literary prize -- 20 million yen (about 175,000 dollars). The prize is open to previously unpublished works of "entertainment fiction," and in this, its first year, the number of entries reached 2,746. Two awards of 5 million yen each were also given to other novels. Katabami's novel will be published by Poplar in October.


July - September 2006

Letter written by Tanizaki Jun'ichirō discovered (July 1, 2006)

A letter sent by Tanizaki Jun'ichirō to an inn in Kyoto where he was staying in the summer of 1912 has been discovered in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture. The letter, dated August 5, apologizes for having left the inn for Tokyo without giving advance notice, explaining that on a visit to Sumiyoshi in Osaka Tanizaki had fallen out of a rickshaw and bumped his head, causing him to change his plans and return immediately to Tokyo. The letter will be on display at the Tanizaki Jun'ichirō Memorial Museum of Literature in Ashiya, Hyogo, from July 8 to September 3.

135th Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (July 13, 2006)

The 135th Akutagawa Prize has been won by Itō Takami for Hachigatsu no rojō ni suteru (Abandoned on the Road in August, published in the June issue of Bungakukai). The 135th Naoki Prize will be shared by Miura Shion, for Mahoro ekimae Tada Benri-ken (The Tada Do-It-All Shop in Front of Mahoro Station, published by Bungei Shunjū), and Mori Eto, for Kaze ni maiagaru biniiru shiito (Sheet of Vinyl Flying in the Wind, published by Bungei Shunjū). Itō is married to Kakuta Mitsuyo, was the recipient of the 132nd Naoki Prize in 2005, making them the first married couple ever to have split these two prizes between them. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on August 22.

Izumi Motoya involved in traffic scrape (July 19, 2006)

Troubled Kyogen performer Izumi Motoya was revealed today to have hit a motorcyclist on July 13 while turning his car into a restaurant parking lot in Tokyo. The 18-year-old motorcylist, who suffered minor bumps and scrapes, was trying to squeeze through on the car's left at the time. Police plan to file papers with the public prosecutor's office; Izumi was briefly arrested in November of last year for ignoring a summons to appear at a police station in response to a parking violation.

Unpublished manuscript by Endō Shūsaku discovered (August 5, 2006)

An unpublished manuscript written by novelist Endō Shūsaku has been discovered in the Tokyo home of a former editor. The manuscript, 185 pages long, contains advice about how to write effective correspondance, and apparently conveys Endō's views on love and romance. The manuscript was written in about 1960, and the publisher's stamps indicate that it was given in installments to a colleague of the editor, who then passed it on to him. The editor, however, had somehow forgotten about receiving the manuscript, rediscovering it only in June as he was preparing to move his private library elsewhere. The manuscript (originally untitled) will be published at the end of this month under the opening sentences: "Just rry the first ten pages. If you're bored after ten pages, go ahead and throw the book away"); the manuscript itself will be donated to the Endō Shūsaku Literary Museum in Nagasaki.

Manuscript copied under direction of Fujiwara no Sadaie (Teika) discovered (August 10, 2006)

A copy of the poetic treatise Toshiyori zuinō (Essence of Toshiyori) written partly in the hand of Fujiwara no Sadaie (Teika; 1162-1241) has been discovered in the storehouse of the Reizei "family" in Kyoto. The manuscript consists of 486 pages (16.5 cm high, 15.9 cm wide), and bears the date "Katei 3" (1237). Teika himself appears to have written the opening section and colophon, with the remainder being most likely the work of a retainer or retainers. The treatise itself is supposed to have been presented by Minamoto no Toshiyori (1055-1129) to the daughter of Fujiwara no Tadanori (1078-1162) after her marriage to Emperor Toba (r. 1107-1123). It contains folktale-like anecdotes concerning waka and its traditions, and is thought to have been one of the sources for parts of the Konjaku monogatari shū (Tales of Times Now Past; first half of the twelfth century). The discovery counts as a major find because hitherto the oldest copy of Toshiyori zuinō dated from the Edo period, some 500 years later. One notable feature of the manuscript, not found in other versions, is the appearance at the end of the line "Much remains to be said, but since there is not enough paper to continue, I shall stop writing here."

42nd Tanizaki Jun'ichirō Prize announced (August 24, 2006)

The 42nd Tanizaki Jun'ichirō Prize has been won by Ogawa Yōko, for Miina no kōshin (Meena's Parade; published by Chūō Kōron Shinsha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on October 19.

1st Chūō Kōron Literary Prize announced (August 28, 2006)

The 1st Chūō Kōron Literary Prize, an award specifically aimed at the category termed "entertainment fiction," has been won by Asada Jirō, for Ohara meshimase (Slice Open Your Belly, Please; published by Chūō Kōron Shinsha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on October 19.

Death of Bunraku puppeteer Yoshida Tamao (September 24, 2006)

Bunraku puppeteer and Living National Treasure Yoshida Tamao died today of pneumonia at a hospital in Osaka. Yoshida was widely admired for his handling of main-character puppets in Chikamatsu's plays, particularly Tokubei in The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, a "role" he performed at total of 1136 times in the course of a career that began in 1934. Yoshida was 87 years old.

Murakami Haruki wins Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award (September 26, 2006)

Japanese author Murakami Haruki has won the second Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award for his collection Burindo wirō, suriipingu wuuman (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman; English translation published in London by Harvill). The award, establishedlast year in memory of the famous Irish short-story writer, who died in 1966, carries with it a cash prize of 35,000 euros, making it the most generous such award in the world. One unique feature of the award is that if the winning collection is a translation (as it is here, by Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin), the cash prize is shared equally by the original author and the translator(s). The award is announced and presented annually at the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival in Cork, Ireland.

Stone tablet inscribed with a haiku by Masaoka Shiki to be placed in Nara garden (September 5, 2006)

The restaurant now located on the site of the inn in Nara where Masaoka Shiki was supposedly inspired to write his famous verse about hearing a temple bell while eating a persimmon is building a garden that will feature a stone tablet inscribed with one of Shiki's haiku. Shiki stayed at the inn, which was located near the Tōdaiji, while visiting Nara in 1895. Shiki's famous haiku, however, transfers the location to the Hōryūji, so perhaps for that reason the verse to be inscribed on the tablet will be aki kururu / Nara no hatagoya / kaki no aji (At an inn in Nara / with autumn drawing to a close: / the taste of persimmons). The tablet is expected to be in place by the end of October.

20 drawings by Masaoka Shiki discovered (September 27, 2006)

Twenty drawings thought to have been made by Masaoka Shiki during the period from about 1892 to 1901, when he lived in Tokyo's Negishi district, have been found in materials donated to the Shiki House, the famous poet's former home. The drawings, along with unpublished haiku and other writings, were contained in six volumes of bound rice paper that were given to the Shiki House last year by a descendant of one of Shiki's close acquaintances. The drawings include depictions of streetlights at Ueno Park, the thunder god, and a torii gateway, each acompanied by a haiku. Several of the drawings will be on display at the Shiki House until the end of the month.


October - December 2006

Oldest wooden slat with man'yōgana discovered (October 12, 2006)

A wooden message slat (mokkan) apparently dating from the middle of the seventh century has been unearthed at the site of the Naniwa Palace in Osaka City. The slat, which measures 18.5 by 2.7 centimeters, contains 12 Chinese characters used for their phonetic value (a form of transcription known as man'yōgana), making it the oldest such artifact ever discovered. The first 11 characters on the slat are legible, as follows:

皮留久佐乃皮斯米之刀斯 (はるくさのはじめのとし / harukusa no hajime no toshi

Since harukusa no ("of spring plants") is a makurakotoba (pillow word) found in the Man'yōshū, and since a 5-7 syllabic count is involved, it is thought that the characters may form two lines of a waka or other poem. Since the slat indicates that, contrary to currently accepted opinion, the use of Chinese characters to transcribe Japanese was already established by the time of the Taika Reforms of 645, it is a historical find of the first order. The slat will be on display at the Osaka Museum of History on October 14-15 (free) and October 18-23 (admission charged).

34th Izumi Kyōka Prize announced (October 12, 2006)

The 34th Izumi Kyoka Prize has been won by Arashiyama Kōzaburō for Akutō Bashō (The Villain Bashō, published by Shinchōsha). The presentation ceremony will be held in Kanazawa on November 20.

Death of Kojima Nobuo (October 26, 2006)

Novelist Kojima Nobuo, one of the "Third Generation" group of postwar writers that also included Endō Shūsaku and Yoshiyuki Junnosuke, died today of pneumonia at a hospital in Tokyo. Kojima won the Akutagawa Prize in 1955 for his short story Amerikan sukuuru (American School), and in 1965 received the first Tanizaki Jun'ichirō Prize for Hōgo kazoku (Embracing Family). Kojima was known for fiction written largely in the "I-novel" manner and characterized by a "weightless" (mujūryoku) style. Kojima had been hospitalized since suffering a stroke in June, but up to then had continued to publish regularly, most recently Zankō (Fading Light, 2006), a loving account of his wife, who had been placed in a nursing home. The funeral will be private, with a public farewell to be scheduled later. Kojima was 91 years old.

59th Noma Prize for Literature announced (November 9, 2006)

The 59th Noma Prize for Literature has been won by Kuroi Senji for Ichinichi -- yume no saku (One Day: The Dream Fence, published by Kōdansha). The presenation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on December 15.

Death of Saitō Shigeta (November 21, 2006)

Saitō Shigeta, the eldest son of poet Saitō Mokichi, died of heart failure on November 20, it was reported today. Like his father, Saitō was a psychiatrist, and he had also established a reputation as a writer of such essays as Mokichi no taishū (The Smells of Mokichi) and Mota-san no warai no seishingaku (Mota's Lighthearted Guide to Psychiatry). Saitō was 90 years old.

Death of Kinoshita Junji reported (November 30, 2006)

It was reported today that playwright Kinoshita Junji died on October 30. Kinoshita, one of postwar Japan's most prominent dramatists, first became famous for his 1949 folktale-inspired play Yūzuru (Evening Crane), which has since been performed over 1,000 times. Other plays include Shigosen no matsuri (Meridian Festival,1978), which drew upon the Tale of the Heike, and Kami to hito no aida (Between Men and Gods, 1970), which used the Tokyo war-crimes trials to examine the question of Japanese responsibility in the Second World War. Kinoshita was 92 years old.