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Archives 1998

July - September 1998

119th Akutagawa Prize (July 16, 1998)

The 119th Akutagawa Prize has been awarded to Fujisawa Shū for Buenosu Airesu gozen reiji (Midnight in Buenos Aires, Bungei, Summer 1998) and to Hanamura Mangetsu for Gerumaniamu no yoru (Germanium Nights, Bungakukai, June 1998).

119th Naoki Prize (July 16, 1998)

The 119th Naoki Prize has been awarded to Kurumatani Chōkitsu for Akame shijūya-taki shinjū misui (Attempted Suicide at the Forty-eight Falls of Akame, Bungei Shunjū).

The Matsumoto Seichō Memorial Museum (August 4, 1998)

The Matsumoto Seichō Memorial Museum opened today in Kitakyushu City. The date was chosen to coincide with the seventh anniversary of Seichō's death. Holdings include the entire 30,000-volume contents of Seichō's library as well as a number of manuscripts.

37th Women's Literature Prize (August 20, 1998)

The 37th Women's Literature Prize has been awarded to Kometani Fumiko for Famirii bijinesu (Family Business, Shinchōsha).

Death of Tamura Ryūichi (August 26, 1998)

Poet Tamura Ryūichi died today in Tokyo of esophageal cancer at the age of 75. Tamura, one of the group of poets associated with the early-postwar magazine Arechi (Wasteland), was known for an abstract style of poetry that drew its power from the contemplation of destruction and a heightened awareness of the presence of death.

Tanizaki Jun'ichirō Prize (August 26, 1998)

The Tanizaki Jun'ichirō Prize for 1998 has been awarded to Tsushima Yūko for Hinoyama -- yamazaruki (Mountain of Fire: Account of a Wild Monkey, Kōdansha).

Tsubouchi Shōyō Prize (September 3, 1998)

The fifth Tsubouchi Shōyō Prize has been awarded to kyōgen actor Nomura Mansaku.

Death of Hotta Yoshie (September 5, 1998)

Novelist Hotta Yoshie died today in Yokohama of cerebral infarction at the age of 80. Known as an "international" writer whose works dealt with political themes, Hotta won the Akutagawa Prize in 1951 for Hiroba no kodoku (Solitude in the Square, based on the reaction of intellectuals to the outbreak of the Korean War). He traveled widely and often throughout the Third World, receiving the Lotus Award from the Asian and African Writers Conference in 1978 for his activities on behalf of that organization. He also received the Osaragi Jirō Award in 1977 for a four-volume biography of the Spanish painter Goya.

Death of Kurosawa Akira (September 6, 1998)

Famed movie director Kurosawa Akira died today in Tokyo of a stroke at the age of 88. Kurosawa's international reputation is such that a number of Japanese newspapers and magazines even used katakana to spell his last name in article titles (indeed, the epithet most frequently applied to him was "sekai no," roughly translatable as "internationally renowned," but usually used to refer to Japanese nationals whose achievements have gained official recognition overseas). By any standard, a great director.

20th Kōdansha Nonfiction Award (September 8, 1998)

The 20th Kōdansha Nonfiction Award has been presented to Kitajima Yukinori for Muteki no handikyappu -- Shōshinsha ga puroresurā ni natta hi (Invincible Handicap: When a Disabled Person Turned Professional Wrestler, Bungei Shunjū) and to Nakamura Satoshi for Danbōruhausu de miru yume -- Shinjuku homuresu monogatari (Dreams Dreamt in a Cardboard House: A Story of the Homeless in Shinjuku, Sōshisha)

Woodblock used to print Oku no hosomichi found (September 14, 1998)

Nara University professor Nagai Kazuaki announced the discovery of an Edo-period woodblock that was once used to print haiku poet Matsuo Bashō's Oku no hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Deep North). The cherry woodblock, measuring 66.6cm long x 13.9cm wide x 1.9cm thick, was found among a lot of some 500 purchased by Nara University from a used-book dealer in Kyoto. On one side is an afterward to the travel diary written by a disciple of Bashō, on the other is the book's colophon. It is thought to have been carved around 1789, and is the first such woodblock ever to have been found.


October - December 1998

Death of Sata Ineko (October 12, 1998)

Novelist Sata Ineko died today in Tokyo of septicemic shock at the age of 94. Sata began her career as a proletarian novelist, but underwent tenkō in the 1930s. After the war, she wrote autobiographical works focusing on the problem of her wartime collaboration and her stormy relationship with the Japanese Communist Party.

46th Kikuchi Kan Prizes (October 14, 1998)

Kikuchi Kan Prizes have been awarded to novelist Hiraiwa Yumi, Kizugawa Kei (editor of the magazine Kamigata Geinō), the production staff of the NHK radio program Rajio shin'ya bin, the eight-volume series Horyo taiken-ki (by a group dedicated to collecting accounts of the experiences of WWII Japanese prisoners of war in the Soviet Union), reporter and commentator Sakurai Yoshiko, and illustrator Murakami Yutaka.

Dazai Osamu manuscripts discovered (October 14, 1998)

Portions of draft manuscripts for Dazai's The Setting Sun (41 pages) and Goodbye (31 pages) were discovered by family members and donated, along with two other manuscripts that were found earlier this year, to the Nihon Kindaibungakkan in Tokyo.

87th Bungakukai New Author's Prize (October 14, 1998)

The selection committee for the 87th Bungakukai New Author's Prize decided not to present the award this time. The committee expressed general dissatisfaction with the current state of new fiction (which more than one member correlated with the dismal performance of the Japanese economy), and concluded that none of the five works shortlisted for the prize deserved it. So there.

Kurosawa Akira's last screenplay scheduled for production (November 7, 1998)

Kurosawa Productions announced that next year the late director's final screenplay, with a plot centering on a rōnin and his sick wife, would be made into a film provisionally titled Ame agaru (When the Rain Lifts). Filming is expected to start in spring and be completed by the first anniversary of Kurosawa's death.

51st Noma Literary Award (November 16, 1998)

Tsushima Yūko's Hinoyama--yamazaru-ki (Mountain of Fire: Account of a Wild Monkey, published by Kōdansha) has been awarded the 51st Noma Literary Award. This marks the first time any work has received both the Tanizaki Prize and Noma Award in the same year, and the double honor comes in the year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Tsushima's father, Dazai Osamu.

19th Japan SF Prize (November 20, 1998)

The Japan SF Prize for 1998 has been awarded to Sena Hideaki for Brain Valley (Kadokawa Shoten). Special awards were also announced for Hoshi Shin'ichi, Inoue Masahiko, and NHK for various contributions to the genre (Hoshi's comes posthumously; he died in 1997).

25th Osaragi Jirō Prize (December 18, 1998)

The 25th Osaragi Jirō Prize will go to Kita Morio for his four-volume biography of his father, the tanka poet Saitō Mokichi. Kita, of course, is a famous author in his own right, whose most famous work is the trilogy Nire-ke no hitobito (The Nire Family, 1964). The selection committee expressed admiration for the objectivity and readability of Kita's account of the most famous Japanese tanka poet of the twentieth century.

5th Rennyo Prize (December 24, 1998)

The 5th Rennyo Prize has been presented to Kuga Natsumi for Fenorosa to majo no machi (Fenollosa and the Town of Witches), a study of the American art historian Ernest Fenollosa, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts.

Death of Kinoshita Keisuke (December 30, 1998)

Movie director Kinoshita Keisuke died early today in Tokyo of cerebral infarction at the age of 86. Kinoshita, who directed such films as Nijūshi no hitomi (Twenty-Four Eyes, 1954) and Narayamabushi-kō (Ballad of Narayama, 1958), made films characterized by a strong sense of native sentimentality that did not, however, descend into bathos. The Tensei jingo column of the Asahi Shimbun thus felt warranted to label him the "Japanese Kinoshita" as opposed to the "international Kurosawa."