Letter sent by Mushanokōji Saneatsu to brother of Chinese novelist Rojin discovered (January 4, 2010)
A letter sent to Shū Sakujin (Zhou Zuoren), the brother of Chinese novelist Rojin (Lu Xun), by novelist Mushanokōji Saneatsu around 1944 has been discovered in Hong Kong. The letter, which had previously been introduced in Japan on the basis of a handmade copy, represents an attempt by Mushanokōji to mediate in a dispute between Shū and the pro-war Japanese novelist Kataoka Teppei, and expresses his respect for the Chinese author. As such, and because the letter was not well known among literary scholars, it may serve to soften somewhat the image of Mushanokōji himself as a staunch chauvinist.
142nd Akutagawa Prize and Naoki Prize announcements (January 14, 2010)
It has been announced that no award will made for the 142nd Akutagawa Prize -- covering the second half of 2009 -- the first time since 1999 that the prize will not not be awarded. According to selection committee member Ikezawa Natsuki, three stories received support in the early voting, but none ultimately received enough support to receive the award. The 142nd Naoki Prize will be shared by Shiraishi Kazufumi, for the collection Hoka naranu hito e (To the Selfsame Person, published by Shōdensha), and Sasaki Jō, for Haikyo ni kou (Supplicating the Ruins, published by Bungei Shunjū). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on February 19.
Death of Tatematsu Wahei (February 8, 2010)
Novelist Tatematsu Wahei, the author of DIstant Thunder, died of multiple organ failure at a hospital in Tokyo on the evening of February 8. Tatematsu had been active through January, when he entered the hospital complaining of feeling unwell. His condition worsened precipitously on the eighth, and he died the same evening. Tatematsu was 62 years old.
Death of Inoue Hisashi (April 9, 2010)
Playwrite and novelist Inoue Hisashi died of lung cancer at his home in Kamakura on the night of April 9. Inoue first gained fame as a screewriter for the children-oriented NHK puppet program Hyokkori Hyōtanjima, and went on to write such humorously tinged fiction and plays as as Kirijin (The Peopole of Kirikiri, 1981) and Zutsū katakori Higuchi Ichiyō (Headaches, Stiff Shoulders, and Higuchi Ichiyō; 1984). AMong his many other activities, Inoue was also a protect-the-Constitution peace activist. Inoue had been receiving chemical treatment for cancer since last October; he was 75 years old.
Poem scroll by Ueda Akinari discovered (June 16, 2010)
A scroll containing holographic versions of 70 waka composed by Edo writer Ueda Akinari on the occasion of his 70th birthday has been discovered at a private residence in the Kansai district. The scroll measures about 4 meters in length and is dated Kyōwa 3 (1803), Ueda's 70th year according to the traditional method of counting age. All of the verses deal with cherry blossoms in one way or another, including one with an allusion to The Tale of Genji. The waka themselves are known from poem cards, but this appears to be the original format.
Death of Tsuka Kōhei (July 10, 2010)
Playwright Tsuka Kōhei died of lung cancer at a hospital in Chiba Prefecture on July 10. Tsuka (a second-generation zainichi Korean whose given name was Kim Bon Un) took the world of the stage by storm with works such as Atami satsujin jiken (Murder in Atami, 1973) and Kamata kōshinkyoku (The Kamata March, 1980; film version in 1982). The novelized version of Kamata kōshinkyoku received the Naoki Prize in 1982. Tsuka was 62 years old.
Eighth Kaikō Takeshi Prize for Nonfiction announced (July 26, 2010)
The eighth Kaikō Takeshi Prize for Nonfiction has been won by Kakuhata Yūsuke for Kūhaku no go-mairu (The Missing Five Miles, to be published in November), an account of the explorer's solo trek in Tibet. The presentation ceremony will be held on November 19 in Tokyo.
143rd Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (July 15, 2010)
The 143rd Akutagawa Prize has been won by Akazome Akiko for Otome no mikkoku (Informant, published in the June issue of Shinchō). The 143rd Naoki Prize will go to Nakajima Kyōko for Chiisana ouchi (A Tiny House, published by Bungei Shunjū). Both writers won their awards the first time they were nominated. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on August 20.
Letters exchanged by Ibuse Masuji and Iida Ryūta discovered (August 8, 2010)
Some 400 letters exchanged by Ibuse Masuji and Iida Ryūta over a period of 40 years have been discovered in the homes of relatives. The two writers became close friends after meeting at a public lecture session in 1952. The letters, 265 written by Ibuse and 143 written by Iida, include mention of Ibuse's Black Rain, which was published serially between 1965 and 1966. The correspondence will be published in late August by Kadokawa Gakugei Shuppan, and a portion will be displayed at the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Literature early next year.
20th Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Literature announced (August 9, 2010)
The 20th Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Literature has been won by Kawakami Mieko for her novel Hebun (Heaven, published by Kōdansha). The presentation ceremony will be held in the city of Uji on November 14. Kawakami received the Akutagawa Prize in 2007 for Chichi to ran (Of Breasts and Eggs).
Death of Mori Sumio (August 18, 2010)
Haiku poet Mori Sumio died of pneumonia at a hospital in Tokyo on the morning of August 18. Mori was known as a defender of the classical haiku tradition and in 1970 founded the magazine Sugi (Cedar); he had been designated a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government in 2005. Mori was 91 years old.
Ichikawa Ebizō injured in altercation (November 25, 2010)
Kabuki star Ichikawa Ebizō was injured in an altercation that took place outside a bar in Tokyo's Roppongi district, it was reported today. Ebizō's father, Danjūrō, held a press conference today at which he stated Ebizō told him he was attacked by one of a group of men with whom he had been drinking when he attempted to help one of the other men on the building staircase. The circumstances are not yet very clear, but Danjūrō apologized for his son's being involved in the incident.
Ebizō to undergo surgery for injuries (November 27, 2010)
Ichikawa Ebizō is scheduled to undergo surgery on November 29 for the facial injuries he received after being hit on a staircase outside a bar in Roppingi two days ago. The injuries, which are expected to take two months to heal, include a fractured cheekbone and a broken front tooth (or broken front teeth).
Ebizō holds press conference after release from hospital (December 7, 2010)
Ichikawa Ebizō held a press conference today at which he explained last month's incident and described the injuries he received. The press conference can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube (for the first 30 minutes, click here). At the press conference it was announced that Ebizō will cancel all his scheduled performances and not schedule new ones until further notice.
Ebizō attacker arrested by police (December 10, 2010)
Itō Lion, the man who is accused of attacking and injuring Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizō on November 27, has been placed under arrest. Itō, apparently a former motorcycle-gang member who claims he was defending the honor of the man Ebizō was helping, turned himself into police following a murky period of behind-the-scenes negotiations. Details of the altercation and its aftermath remain unclear despite a lengthy press conference given by Ebizō on December 7.
Agreement reached between Ebizō and Itō Lion (December 28, 2010)
A lawyer for Ichikawa Ebizō held a press conference today to announce that Ebizō had reached an agreement with Itō Lion under which Ebizō would not press for damages against his attacker. The lawyer said that, under the agreement, Itō would acknowledge responsibility for the attack and offer a sincere apology, which Ebizō would accept. Ebizō's statement to the police would be acknowledged as being truthful, and both sides would refrain from personal contact and making public comments that might be construed as libelous. The lawyer denied that any exchange of money was involved in obtaining the agreement. The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office nevertheless also today filed formal criminal charges against Itō, citing the severity of the attack. It marks an interesting attempt by Ebizō to put his affairs in order before the end of the year.