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Archives 2000

January - March 2000

Mishima's last testament to Shield Society members made public (January 5, 2000)

Honda (formerly Kuramochi) Kiyoshi, leader of the second squad of novelist Mishima Yukio's private Tate no Kai (Shield Society), today made public the contents of the written testament Mishima left behind for Society members who did not participate in the attack on Japan's Self-Defense Forces headquarters in November 1970. Honda was handed the four-page document -- along with a four-page letter addressed to Honda that had already been made public in 1980 -- by Mishima's wife Yōko on the night of the author's dramatic suicide. The testament was passed around by Shield Society members at Mishima's wake, and its existence was kept a secret. According to an excerpt published by the Asahi Shimbun, Mishima felt that the time for concerted action by the Shield Society had passed and consequently had decided that a small number of members would take action to give expression to the powerful sense of indignation (tsūfun) Mishima felt. The testament concludes with the words "Long live the Emperor!" (Tennō Heika banzai!). Honda, now 52 years old, explained that he wanted to transmit Mishima's legacy to all those living in the new millennium ("Seireki nisennen o mukaeta ima, sensei no seishin o tsutaetai to kangaeta").

122nd Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes (January 14, 2000)

The 122nd Akutagawa Prize will be shared by Gen Getsu (pen name of Gen Minehide) for Kage no sumika (A Dwelling in the Shade, published in the November 1999 issue of Bungakukai) and Fujino Chiya for Natsu no yakusoku(Summer Promise, published in the December 1999 issue of Gunzō). The 122nd Naoki Prize will go to Nakanishi Rei (full name Nakanishi Reizō) for Nagasaki burabura-bushi (Strolling Through Nagasaki: A Ballad, published by Bungei Shunjū). The presentation ceremony for both prizes will be held in Tokyo on February 18.

Yomiuri Drama Awards (February 2, 2000)

Actress Mori Mitsuko has been awarded both the 1999 Yomiuri Grand Prize for Drama and the prize for Best Actress for her portrayal of Hayashi Fumiko in the play Hōrōki (A Vagabond's Story).

17th Suntory Grand Prize for Mystery Stories (February 3, 2000)

The 17th Suntory Grand Prize for Mystery Stories will be awarded to Kakine Ryōsuke (pen name of Nishiyama Yōichirō) for Gozensanji no rūsutā (Rooster at Three in the Morning). The award brings with it a cash prize of 10 million yen and provides both for publication of the winning work by the Bungei Shunjū publishing company and for its dramatization by the Asahi Broadcasting Company.

50th Mr. H Prize for poetry; 15th Contemporary Poets Prize (March 5, 2000)

The Japan Association of Contemporary Poets announced that the 50th Mr. H Prize would be awarded to Ryū Hidemi of Fukuoka Prefecture for his collection TAIWAN, and that the 15th Contemporary Poets Prize would go to Iwase Masao of Aichi Prefecture for Sora (Sky). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 3.

34th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature (March 7, 2000)

The 34th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature will be awarded to Takahashi Etsuhiko for the two-volume Kaen (Blaze, published by Kōdansha). The Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers will go to Uesa Mari for Fukagawa koi monogatari (Fukagawa Love Story, published by Shūeisha).

9th Kaikō Takeshi Prize (March 23, 2000)

The 9th Kaikō Takeshi Prize will go to ōyama Shirō for Sangoku gakeppuchi nikki (From the Brink of a Mountain Precipice). An "award of encouragement" will also be presented to Sogabe Tsukasa for Hokkee '69 (Hockey '69).


April - June 2000

26th Kawabata Yasunari Prize and 16th Dazai Osamu Prize (April 14, 2000)

The 26th Kawabata Yasunari Prize for Literature will be shared by Medoruma Shun, for Mabuigumi (With Spirit, published in a collection with the same title by Asahi Shimbunsha), and Iwasaka Keiko for "Ame nochi ame?" (Rain, Followed by Rain?, published in the May 1999 issue of Shinchō). The winners receive a cash award of 1 million yen each. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on June 23. The 16th Dazai Osamu Prize will go to Tsujiuchi Tomotaka for Takiko-chan (Takiko). The prize carries with it a cash award of 1 million yen; the presentation ceremony will be held in Mitaka on May 24.

Endō Shūsaku's debut work to be published (April 15, 2000)

A three-act play entitled Sauro (Saul), written by Endō Shūsaku at about the age of 25 for a girls' high school, is to be published for the first time in the June issue of Shinchō. The play, about the fiancé of a young woman who becomes jealous when she is converted to Christianity by Saul (St. Paul), seems to have been performed in around 1949, six years before Endō published his first novel, and can therefore be considered to mark Endo's debut as an author. The manuscript itself was discovered after Endo's death and placed on display, but the full text has hitherto not been published. In conjunction with the planned opening in May of the Endō Shūsaku Museum in Nagasaki Prefecture, the Shinchōsha publishing company transcribed a complete copy of the manuscript, a printed version of which will also be included in the Collected Works now being published.

11th Itō Sei Prize (May 9, 2000)

Two winners have been announced for the 11th Itō Sei Prize. One is Kawakami Hiromi's collection of short stories Oboreru (Drowning, published by Bungei Shunjū), and the other is a book of criticism by Shihōda Inuhiko entitled Morokko rutaku (Banished to Morocco, published by Shinchōsha).

Shinchō prizes announced ((May 16, 2000)

The winners of four prizes sponsored by the Shinchōsha publishing company (referred to as the "Four Shinchō Prizes") were announced today. The Mishima Yukio Prize will go to Hoshino Tomoyuki for Mezameyo to ningyo wa utau (The Mermaid Sings "Awake!," published in the April issue of Shinchō); the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize will be awarded to Iwai Shimako for the collection Bokkee kyōtee (Really Scary, published by Kadokawa Shoten); the Shinchō Prize for Scholarly Studies has been won by ōzaki Yoshio for Satoshi no seishun (Satoshi's Youth, published by Kōdansha); and designer Miyake Issei has been chosen to receive the Grand Prize for Japanese Art.

Death of Odagiri Hideo (May 24, 2000)

Literary critic Odagiri Hideo died today in his Tokyo home of esophageal cancer. Odagiri throughout his long life adopted a highly politicized approach to literature that stressed the importance of the relationship of literature to society at large. This philosophical conviction lay behind his role in founding the literary journal Kindai Bungaku (Modern Literature) along with Hirano Ken, Ara Masahito, and Haniya Yutaka, among others, and then establishing the Shin Nihon Bungakkai (New Society of Japanese Literature). He created the most recent commonly accepted label to be applied to any single generation of Japanese writers when he criticized the writers who emerged during Japan's high-growth years (including Kuroi Senji, Ogawa Kunio, and Furui Yoshikichi) as belonging to an "inward-oriented" generation (naikō no sedai). Odagiri was 83 years old.

4th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prizes (May 31, 2000)

Today's edition of the Asahi Shimbun announced that Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prizes would be awarded to two manga artists and a manga critic. The Grand Prize for Manga (Manga Taishō) will go to Morohashi Daijirō for his Saiyū yōen den (The Legend of the Marvelous Traveling Monkey) series, and Honorable Mention will go to Mochizuki Minetarō for Doragon heddo (Dragon Head). In addition, American Frederik Schodt will be presented with a special award in recognition of both his contribution to the introduction of Japanese manga abroad and the stimulation he has provided to manga studies in Japan.

Results of Asahi Shimbun "Writers of the Millennium" survey published (June 29, 2000)

As the third in a special series of surveys, the Asahi Shimbun today published the names of the top 50 vote-getters in its "Writers of the Millennium" poll. Readers were asked to vote for their favorite literary personage of the past 1000 years, and the total number of votes cast in the survey was 20,569. The five writers with the most votes were Natsume Sōseki (3516), Murasaki Shikibu (3157), Shiba Ryōtarō (1472), Miyazawa Kenji (1275), and Akutagawa Ryūnosuke (1149). These were also the only writers to collect more than 1000 votes each. The names on the list understandably tend to be modern rather than premodern, but otherwise it is not very easy to know what to make of the results as a whole. Go here for the complete list of the top 50.


July - September 2000

123rd Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (July 14, 2000)

For the first time in six years, both the Akutagawa Prize and the Naoki Prize will each be awarded to two writers. The Akutagawa Prize will go to Machida Kō for Kiregire (Shreds, published in the May 1999 issue of Bungakukai) and Matsuura Hisaki for Hana kutashi (A Flower-Spoiling Rain, published in the May 1999 issue of Gunzō). The Naoki Prize will be shared by Kaneshiro Kazuki, for GO (published by Kōdansha), and Funado Yoichi, for Niji no tani no gogatsu (May in Rainbow Valley). The announcement was attended by significant media attention because of the first-time participation of several relatively young authors as members of the selection committees (Murakami Ryū for the Akutagawa Prize, and Hayashi Mariko and two other writers for the Naoki Prize). Some significance was thus attached to the fact that Machida is a punk-rock singer and Matsuura a professor of French literature at the University of Tokyo (although it should be noted that both are already recipients of other literary awards). The presentation ceremony will by held on August 22 in Tokyo.

39th Women’s Literature Prize announced (August 21, 2000)

Oboreru (Drowning), a collection of short stories by Kawakami Hiromi, has been chosen to receive the 39th Women’s Literature Prize. Kawakami, who is admired for her surrealistic touch, has previously won the Akutagawa Prize (1996) and the Murasaki Shikibu Prize (1999).

36th Tanizaki Jun’ichirō Prize announced (August 30, 2000)

Two works have been selected to receive the 36th Tanizaki Jun'chirō Prize. One is Tsujihara Noboru’s collection Yūdōtei Maruki (published by Bungei Shunjū); the other is Murakami Ryū’s Kyōseichū (A Symbiotic Parasite, published by Kōdansha). The presentation ceremony will be held on October 11 in Tokyo.

Poems written by the young Mishima Yukio discovered (September 4, 2000)

Fifteen notebooks of various types containing poems written by Mishima Yukio between the ages of about ten to seventeen have been discovered among materials collected by the recently opened Yukio Mishima Museum in Yamanashi Prefecture. The notebooks contain about 300 previously unknown poems (as well as a number of other literary items), and can be expected to produce a great deal of research into Mishima’s development as a writer during his adolescence. The poems are to be collected in the next edition of the complete works scheduled to begin publication in November, and a number of them will be published in a special issue of the magazine Shinchō planned to coincide with this event.


October - December 2000

Letters by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke discovered (October 5, 2000)

Seven letters written by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke to novelist Tokuda Shūsei from December 1925 to April 1926 have been discovered in the Tokuda house in Tokyo. The letters contain attempts by Akutagawa to apologize for having included Tokuda's work (without obtaining his permission first) in a multivolume collection of modern literature Akutagawa had edited. Tokuda was not the only author so treated, and Akutagawa had come under heavy criticism in literary circles for his highhandedness. One critic has already speculated that the altercation between the two writers may have been an indirect cause of Akutagawa's suicide in 1927. The letters are to be displayed at the Yagi Bookstore in Kanda beginning October 18.

Konjiki yasha source discovered (November 11, 2000)

Hori Keiko, an instructor at Kitazato University in Tokyo, appears to have discovered the direct source for Ozaki Kōyō's immensely popular novel Konjiki yasha (Demon Gold, 1897-1903) in a 19th-century American dime novel by one Bertha M. Clay (apparently a collective name used by a small group of writers) entitled Weaker Than a Woman. Clay's novel, which came out in the 1880s, has the same plot line centering around a romantic triangle involving money and greed, and is said to have an opening scene very similar to Kōyō's. Hori plans to publish a detailed report of her findings in the November/December issue of the journal Bungaku.

27th Osaragi Jirō Prize (December 17, 2000)

The 27th Osaragi Jirō Prize will be awarded to Yasuoka Shōtarō for his novel Kagamigawa (published by Shinchōsha), a quasi-historical account of post-Meiji relatives on his mother's side of the family, centering on the kanshi (Chinese poetry) poet Nishiyama Fumoto. It is the latest in a long list of awards for the octogenarian novelist. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on January 30, 2001.