Vision in Spring

  It happened in spring two or three years ago, during a stay back at my home in the country. I was on my way to a little party they were giving at my younger sister’s, in the fishing village, five miles to the east of my birthplace, where she had gone to live on her marriage. I had got a lift on the three-wheeler truck from the lemonade works, and was sitting up next to the driver. My traveling companions, who had been invited with me, were seated on chairs they had put in the back of the truck.
      The three-wheeler drove along the dried-up road, raising a cloud of white dust as it went. The surface was full of bumps and stones. Even on the comparatively steady seat next to the driver, I got quite a shaking, so the people seated on the chairs behind must have been bouncing up and down continuously. There was so little distance to go, though, that even the shaking was more of a pleasure than a trial, and our progress was genial in the extreme.
        On either side of the road spread green fields of corn, splashed with the colours of rape and purple vetch in full bloom. A pleasant breeze fanned our cheeks, and the sun, already declining to the west, bathed the world in its glow. Its rays, whenever, some motion of the truck allowed them, struck down warm on the back of the neck and shoulders.
          Halfway there, we passed between hills looming close on either side of the road, and suddenly my home village lay before us along the shore. Part of the village borders the road, while the main section clusters on top of a flat-topped hill. Though we could not yet see the waves breaking, the sky with sparse white clouds drifting across it spoke strongly of the sea’s proximity, and over to the right of the village lay a stretch of sandy soil on which small pine trees were dotted. A government housing estate, which I had not seen before, now stood there.
            Suddenly, my eye was drawn to the road, visible on the left, that ran upwards to the village on the hill. Its sloping surface, parched to a yellowish hue, gave off a dazzling glare in the direct rays of the sun, and it shimmered like the reflectors used in movie work. Shut in by high banks on either side, the road was rather steep—too steep, probably, to ride up on a bicycle. It was quite wide, too. The road leading to it branched off just past a bridge that crossed the stream ahead of us—a mere lane winding through the fields of vetch till suddenly, at the foot of the slope, it opened up into a broad road.
              For some reason, I found myself staring, my eyes irresistibly drawn to this road up the hill. Tears, I found, were pricking ready to fall at the corners of my eyes, and an emotion akin to nostalgia welled up in my breast. On the hill, the afternoon sun beat down, till all of spring itself seemed concentrated in this one spot. Perhaps my emotion was just a yearning after this thing called “spring”?
                Yet it was more than that, for as I gazed there took shape the vision of a middle-aged couple, walking shoulder to shoulder up die hill. They climbed in silhouette up the deserted slope, both clad in light cotton kimono, their shoulders drooping. They were sunk in silence and their backs exuded melancholy. The silhouettes began to blur, and I was conscious of the tears welling unbidden into my eyes. The woman was my cousin Akie, and the man her husband Jirosaku.

                Our Akie, on her marriage to Jirosaku, had gone to live at his home on the hill. I visited the house once when I was a student, and they gave me a meal, killing a young chicken specially in my honour.
                  After dinner, we all went down to the beach. The way down was via the long flight of steps belonging to the shrine on the opposite side from the road up to the hill. On the beach, we sat down near the waves’ edge. It was windless and overcast, a sultry evening with beach and sea alike the same dark hue. The sake I had drunk had begun to take effect, and I sprawled on the sand, but Akie and Jirosaku sat side by side looking out to sea.
                    From time to time they spoke in low voices. They seemed to be on good terms, yet as I looked at them I was overcome by a sense of their loneliness. They had produced no children. Perhaps that was why, as they sat there side by side, the atmosphere that emanated from them seemed to speak only of the loneliness of marriage (though marriage has its joys in large measure, too).
                      My impression that day was well-founded, for six months later, when I went home for the summer vacation, I found they had separated. Jirosaku, I was told, had forced the break unfairly by loading on a horse-wagon the cabinets and chests that had been Akie’s dowry, and sending them back to her home. Whether he had acted unfairly or not, the fact was that they had been so lonely together that to separate was the only course.
                        Had we, on our way back from the beach, retraced our path up the steps of the shrine, or had we chosen the easier but slightly more roundabout route? I had forgotten, in all probability, we had gone up this very slope. And in all probability Akie and Jirosaku had walked shoulder to shoulder in the same melancholy way that they had on the beach. Had the scene not been so, and had it not engraved itself on my brain as I walked with them, it could never have emerged so abruptly in silhouette on that dazzling slope over thirty yean later.

                        Jirosaku was the second son of a landowner. There were many well-off homes in the village on top of the hill, and his was one of them. From the time I was small, I had often seen Jirosaku at Akie’s home. A dandy by nature, he wore his hair parted in the modern style. They said that he never worked without protecting himself from sunburn—not only out in the fields but at home even—by wearing farmer’s mittens and tying a cloth under his chin. He was learning to sew with a sewing machine, an accomplishment rare at the time even among women. Having a taste for the popular story-tellers’ ballads, he had bought a gramophone which he imitated in practicing the melodies; sometimes, too, he would go to the beach and sing them to himself in a loud voice. He was a mild, rather incompetent-looking soul, with a feminine air about him.
                          It was his second marriage. It was for Akie, too. She was nearly my mother's age, so the first time she had been married I was still a child. The night of the wedding, I had been to see the wedding parry. In a room lit by countless candles, the cabinets and chests of clothes that formed her dowry stood where the men had carried them in on their shoulders. That is all I remember. In next to no time, and much to my bewilderment, Akie, who was supposed to have got married, was back at my uncle’s. Her husband, she had found, already had a mistress. The woman was pregnant into the bargain, and Akie returned to her parents’ in disgust. He subsequently married the woman, and she bore him a boy. At the next Boy’s Festival, when for the first time they flew the traditional carp banner in the baby's honour, Akie happened to be in the fields picking mulberry leaves. She gazed at the banner, fluttering distant beyond the mulberry fields, and she cried.

                          After her remarriage to Jirosaku, Akie’s life was enviably easy,“Akie’s done well for herself, she has. ” my grandmother never tired of saying. Our Akie, of course, was just another grandchild to her. The land was almost all let out to tenants, so apart from the vegetable fields there was little farm-work worth speaking of, and no really hard work at all. Being a junior branch of the family with no one besides themselves to worry about, they could do just as they pleased. Their house, newly built, was cozy and comfortable. Having no children either, they had not a care in the world.
                            Perhaps four years of such a life had made him bored, or perhaps he was just beginning to feel discontented with the status quo, but one day without warning Jirosaku started talking.
                            “Neither you nor me, we don’t have education, we only went to elementary school, ” he said “People don’t get nowhere without education nowadays, though. I’m past it myself, but you’re not so old—why don’t you have a go being educated, instead of me, like? ”
                                From any common-sense point of view, there was never a more hare-brained scheme. It would not have been so bad if Akie had attended girls’ high school, but she had never even been to higher elementary school. Virtually illiterate, she was a peasant woman to her very marrow. She had made one mistake in marriage, and was now in her second household. This was the wife, then, he was proposing should go to school all over again. Even so, undaunted, Akie accepted her husband's suggestion on the spot“Well, then, perhaps I’ll go to Tokyo and learn sewing”
                                  She was twenty-six at the time, they say. Not a soul in the place but was astonished at the idea—that a peasant woman who, till yesterday, had been shouldering her hoe to the fields, should suddenly up and off to Tokyo to study. Everyone was dumbfounded. But Akie had made up her mind. “Think. I would not go through with it now? ” she said, and, leaving her husband behind, she set forth from remote Shikoku for far-off Tokyo.

                                  She travelled alone, a countrywoman who had never even seen a train; and the journey, first by steamer, then by train, all the way to Tokyo, was enough in itself to discourage her. On arrival, she found herself lodgings in the Kanda district. That very evening, a man who looked like a merchant of some kind—apparently thinking she had run away from home—made an unsuccessful pass at her. She was so scared, she told us afterwards, she didn’t know what to do.
                                    The next morning, she set off from her lodgings in search of the Watanabe Sewing School, which she had heard people talk about back home in the country. It was in the Hongo district. An occasional girl from back home had come to study at this school. They had all been graduates of the girls’ high school, but Akie was too intent on enrolling to worry about her own qualifications. Her one aim was to get to the place.
                                      She reached the Sudacho crossing and stood, momentarily transfixed. Streetcars were running to and fro in every direction. A cobweb of overhead wires covered the sky. The streets were crowded with people, and there was a statue of two military officers, one standing and one on the ground. To Akie’s eyes, it seemed the busiest place in all Japan. The name of the quarter, “Sudacho ” was of course unfamiliar to her.
                                      “Aha, ” she thought knowingly, “this will probably be the Mitsukoshi they used to talk about. ” She did not know that “Mitsukoshi” was a department store.
                                          The people she talked to at the Watanabe Sewing School were all sympathy for this countrywoman and her ambitions. Did she know anybody in Tokyo, they asked, somebody who could give her a reference? She thought, and suddenly remembered there was an army officer in Tokyo called Shimamura Toshii. She had seen him just once and never spoken to him, but she knew his name well.
                                          “He’s a captain or a lieutenant in the artillery, ” she said, giving them his name. “His wife’ s our Umee—she's my mother's cousin. He's awfully good at things, and he’s been abroad to Germany.”
                                            “Where does he live? Do you know his address? ”
                                              “No, I don’t know where he lives. He’s somewhere in Tokyo, I’m pretty sure of that. ”
                                                “Don’t you know where he works, even—an arsenal or somewhere? ”
                                                  “No, I don’t even know that. ”
                                                      In a place as big as Tokyo, to try to find an army officer who was either a captain or a lieutenant was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Even so, the school clerk goodnaturedly acted on the one clue she could give him, and telephoned to the nearby arsenal.
                                                        He was not at the arsenal, nor was he at some other place they suggested. Then the clerk called the army Artillery and Engineering School, and was informed that among the instructors there was an artillery captain by the name of Shimamura Toshii. Akie, whose ear been pressed eagerly— half in hope, half in despair—to the first telephone she had seen in her life, was beside herself with joy at the news.
                                                          He lived, she learnt, in a suburb called Zoshigaya. They told her the way, and she got straightway on a train at the nearest station to go there.

                                                          At length she found a gate with the right nameplate—“Shimamura Toshii. ”With a glance up at the two-storeyed house, she stepped timorously into the entrance hall and called to announce her presence. “Is anyone at home? ” A sliding door opened, and out came cousin Umee, wearing an apron. Standing before her in the hall, she saw a countrywoman carrying in umbrella and an old fashioned hold-all.
                                                          “Umee! ” cried Akie, making a rush at her.
                                                            “Why, its Akie! Now whatever’s brought you to Tokyo? ” cried Umee, her face registering amazement at this unexpected visitor to the capital.
                                                              “I don’t know where to begin.” was all. Akie could get out, then flung her arms around the other and burst into tears.
                                                                  When she had heard all about it, cousin Umee cried too.

                                                                  Akie put up at the Shimamura’s for two years. Every day she donned a formal skirt and went to the sewing school at Hongo. Soon she was frantic. She could just manage, if she attended with all her might, to take in what the teacher said. Of what the teacher wrote on the blackboard, though, she could scarcely understand a letter. She copied the words down into her exercise book stroke for stroke, as the teacher wrote them, and brought them home. She had no idea of how to read them, write them, or of what they meant. It was the same with the actual sewing: in the country she could pass as a needlewoman of sorts, but now she had to start again from the beginning. One could hardly sew fine materials like crepe well when one's hands were coarse and roughened from cracks and chaps.
                                                                    She came back to the Shimamura home every day to face studies even stiffer than those of the school classroom. In the same house with them lived the husband’s younger sister Eiko. A graduate of the leading teachers’ college for women, she had accompanied her husband on his trip to America to study Christianity. He had died over there, however, and she had come back to Japan a widow. Eiko cared for Akie just as for a younger sister. Touched by the other woman’s eagerness to learn, she had resolved to make a real woman and human being out of her before she let her go home.
                                                                      It was with unusual fervour, then, that she devoted herself to directing Akie’s studies.
                                                                      “I’m really going to make something of you, so you’ve got to persevere, even if the things I say seem a bit hard, ” she warned Akie in advance. “If you don’t persevere, I won’t answer for what happens. ”
                                                                        “If I didn’t have you to teach me, I’d just be wasting my time at the school, ” Akie replied. “Any thing Miss Eiko tells me to do, I’ll persevere with. So don’t you be soft with me: Now I’ve come to Tokyo, I shall see it through if it kills me.”

                                                                          As soon as Akie had come home and had her meal, Eiko would seat her, without a moment’s breather, before her desk. First she was tested to see what she had learnt at school that day. Racking her brains, she would give the gist of the day’s lessons. Eiko would sit motionless, listening to her painfully laboured account. Whenever something did not make sense, or was inconsistent, she would question her in the minutest detail, tirelessly drumming the right answer into her head. Then Akie had to open her exercise book. Its pages were always covered with an untidy scrawl. However carefully she felt she had written in the classroom, when she finally got home and opened her book one could scarcely make out what she had written.
                                                                            Eiko would assiduously decipher this scrawl for her, and she would dutifully learn how to read and write each word, as well as its meaning. If she had not mastered in the main the things she had leant that day, she had to go over them again and again until she did. This done, she started on her home work, theoretical and practical.
                                                                              Eiko was never satisfied to do a thing less than thoroughly. She was more eager, almost, than Akie herself. Every evening they worked till past midnight, and not uncommonly until two or three in the morning.
                                                                              “Akie! Akie! ” Eiko would cry sometimes, smacking the desk with the flat of her hand. And Akie would open her eyes with a start, to realize she had been asleep. She would apologize profoundly, and sit up straight at once.
                                                                                “Akie, we must have no slacking, now! ”
                                                                                  “No, miss.”

                                                                                    Some nights this kind of thing happened two or three times over. Sometimes her sleepiness was just too much for her, and she came close to tears. In the dreams she had when she dozed off, she was always back at home—setting off, hoe on shoulder, to work in the fields, or weaving at her loom. Often she would follow up these fleeting dreams in her mind after waking, reflecting ruefully on what she had done. If she had known it would be so hard, she would have done better not to come to Tokyo. How much nicer it would be working at home in the fields, or weaving! But the next moment she would reproach herself for her weakness, clench her teeth, and pull herself together.
                                                                                      The head of the Shimamura family was of a scholastic bent unusual in a military man. At home, he shut himself up in his study where he read nothing but works on mathematics. He had been to Germany to study ballistics, which he now taught at the Artillery and Engineering School. A man of few words, he scarcely ever addressed anybody of his own accord, and even when spoken to would merely listen with an occasional nod or grunt. In Akie's studies he almost never meddled. Occasionally, though, when Eiko had proved too hard a taskmaster and Akie, at her wits’end, was bemoaning the slowness of her brain, he would be moved despite himself to reproach his sister.
                                                                                      “It’s no use being too hard on her, ” he would say. “Why don’t you try taking things a bit more easily? ” “No! ” she would reply uncompromisingly. “It’s me that’s responsible for Akie here, so you be quiet. ”
                                                                                        “But it’s no good being in too much of a hurry to cram things in when the ground-work’s not there. And her brain’s got rather set by now, too; it won’t take too much in. ”
                                                                                          “Don’t worry. In two years I’ll have a really good finish on her. You wait and see! ” Such was Eiko’s devotion to her task that Akie’s efforts gradually bore fruit. The clearest visible proof of the progress was in the letters she sent her husband and mother at home in the country. Every time a letter arrived, they would rejoice among themselves at her new ability to write letters, or at the improvement in her writing. Her ignorance of the fundamentals still resulted, sad to say, in many misspellings and misused words. Nonetheless, the effect on those who knew Akie was that of a complete metamorphosis. The content of the letters was sometimes sad, sometimes happy, but each successive missive proclaimed the advances made by her knowledge, and her new stature as a person.

                                                                                            It must have been in the spring of 1919 that our Akie, her two years’ studies completed, came home to her husband. Throughout her long absence, he had regularly sent money, waiting patiently alone, his one concern that his wife should acquire education.
                                                                                              I still remember the visit Akie paid to my aunt’s home on her return from Tokyo. We were all astonished at her Tokyo accent and her new refinement. Her complexion was lighter, too; one could scarcely believe it was the same woman who, only three years before, had been carrying buckets of night soil slung from her shoulders. From a basket, Akie produced bananas which she had brought back from Tokyo, and with them regaled her assembled relatives. She taught us how to peel them, and we ate with all the thrill of novelty. It was the first time I had eaten bananas. They were quite black. Not knowing that the colour was due to age, though, we smacked our lips over them, convinced that bananas were supposed to taste that way.
                                                                                                There was no end to Akie ’s tales of her travels. Every event, from her leaving home to her return, was gone over in the minutest detail. From time to time, the teller would dissolve in tears, and her hearers would dab at their eyes with the edges of their aprons. The beautiful embroidery work she had learnt at school was laid out for all to see, along with photographs of a school outing, taken on the dried-up bed of the Tama River.
                                                                                                  Akie’s talk was full of “my teacher Miss Hida. ” Almost every other word, in fact, was “Miss Hida. ” “Miss Hida” was Eiko, who still used her late husband’s name. Since everything Akie had achieved was due to Miss Hida’s training, the affection with which Akie spoke other can be imagined.
                                                                                                    Wherever Miss Hida went, she had taken Akie with her. On Sunday mornings, she had taken her to church, where Akie had heard her first sermon by a Christian minister and her first hymns. She had taken her to the real Mitsukoshi, where Akie was thrilled by the array of fine clothes. On the evening of a national holiday, she had taken her to the plaza before the Imperial Palace, where Akie had gazed at the sea of fire formed by a lantern parade and whispered to her, “It only Mother and the others could see this! ”
                                                                                                    “When you leave middle school, you ought to go to Tokyo too, Iwao, you and the others.” Akie told me. “You’d really like Tokyo, you know. ”
                                                                                                        She told us. too, how next door to the Shimamuras there had been a boy called Naoyoshi, the same name as my young brother. It had always reminded her of him, and made her homesick. As I listened to her talk, I was fired with the desire to learn. I was in the third or fourth grade at middle school at the time.

                                                                                                        Akie looked for a teaching post in some school, and after a year or two’s wait someone found her a job at a primary school in a lonely coastal village round to the cast of Cape Muroto. Though she had a diploma from the sewing school, it was only for the first grade, nor did she have any formal education. Because of this, she could not even become an assistant teacher, but had to be content to act as emergency teacher. For Akie, though, even this was a remarkable rise in the world.
                                                                                                          It was an out-of-the-way spot, but she accepted the appointment in the highest of spirits. There was no point in Jirosaku’s staying behind, so they shut up their house and he went with her. She was out at school every day, and he was bored at home, so he decided to take in sewing for his machine. The village folk thought them very odd; husband and wife, they would say disapprovingly, had got the wrong way round.
                                                                                                            Akie was quite indifferent to such talk, but Jirosaku was hurt. If he stayed indoors to avoid being seen, the boredom only got worse. The village was too poor for there to be all that many things to sew. By nature a retiring man, he made no friends he could talk to. His one amusement was to go to the beach with his wife on Sundays to gather shellfish and seaweed—and even here it was Akie who got more pleasure out of it.
                                                                                                            “I’m going back to my folks’home. ” he would say. “If I’m going to be bored, at least there’s someone to talk to at home. ”
                                                                                                                Barely a month had passed before Jirosaku left Akie and went back to his parents' home. Akie stayed where she was, teaching not only sewing but etiquette and games besides. In the holidays, she went to stay with Jirosaku, but when school started off she would go again, alone, on the little coastal steamer.
                                                                                                                  She had her eye on the higher elementary school in the neighboring village of Matsubara as the ideal appointment for her. It was only thirty minutes on foot from their home, so it she taught there she would not have to live apart from her husband. As a school, too, it rated highly. After the school beyond Cape Muroto, she passed on to a school in the same sub-prefecture as their home, and in this way, like a hawk wheeling in ever lower circles towards its prey, she was eventually able to teach at the school of her choice.
                                                                                                                    Jirosaku, too, was pleased. Every day Akie would leave home carrying her lunch, and would walk to school, sometimes along the prefectural highway, sometimes along the shore, always surrounded by a group of girl pupils from the vicinity.
                                                                                                                      But the local folk, too, found them equally odd. The dashing figure Akie cut as she went too and fro from school only served to highlight Jirosaku’s incompetence. Ill-matched in the eyes of others, they were, in fact, growing apart. There had been no such gap between them while they were both ignorant. Now, though, one had been educated and risen in the world, while the other had stayed the same. Almost before they realised what was happening, Akie found she had outstripped Jirosaku, and Jirosaku found he had been outstripped. She was too busy getting on to worry, but Jirosaku acquired a hangdog air, beginning to dwell more and more on the way he had been left behind. It had been just at this stage that I had happened to dine at their house.
                                                                                                                        Jirosaku spoke of it himself later, they told me. “I was wrong to send her to school toget educated, ” he said.

                                                                                                                        At last the catastrophe occurred. It was two or three months after I had stayed at their house. They were preparing for the autumn sports day at school, and every afternoon there was practice instead of lessons. Akie was one of those in charge of games for the girls. She was doubly keen in teaching them, since it was a fine chance to show the people at home the games she had learnt in Tokyo.
                                                                                                                          One day, she thought it would help her pupils to show them photos of games at a sports meeting in Tokyo. Downing her lunch, she flew off along the shore back home.
                                                                                                                            She entered the house, and stopped, rooted to the spot. In the best room, a drinking session was full swing. Jirosaku was flushed with wine. There were sliced raw fish and other delicacies on the small, low table before him and there, plying him with wine, was a woman of doubtful occupation from Miharashi-kan, a combined inn and restaurant that stood, by the shore. Unknown to Akie, Jirosaku had struck up acquaintance with her and would go drinking at the inn, or bring her to the house.
                                                                                                                              Akie made a face and kicked the table flying. She found her photographs in the cupboard and then, with a parting stare at the still-seated Jirosaku, rushed out without a word. She made her way back to the school, the tears falling in great drops, as she went. She was overwrought and impatient, and the more she hurried the more the sand dragged at her feet to stop her running.
                                                                                                                                The same day, Akie went back to her parents’home. That was the end; Jirosaku on his side made no move to fetch her back. Instead, her cabinets and chests were sent on after her, loaded on a horsewagon.
                                                                                                                                  Our Akie married a third time after that, and lives today in a small town in the west. A child was born to her late in life; a fine young man now, he works in the tourist section at the city hall. Akie herself has been elected president of the local women’s association. Whenever she meets me, she always expresses the same wish: “How I’d like to go to Tokyo again. ”
                                                                                                                                    Jirosaku, of course, got married again too. I have no doubt but that he lives to this day, hale and hearty, in the same house on the hill.

                                                                                                                                    In no time, the three-wheeler in which I sat and left the road up the hill shining in the spring sun, and had entered the part of the village that bordered the highway. Passing beyond the village, we drove along by the shore, where the waves lapped gently on the beach. The hill itself had vanished, yet the vision of the man and woman who climbed it still persisted in my brain. On and on they climbed, never halting. They moved, yet they never reached the top of the slope. Like two puppets manipulated by invisible strings, they went through the motions of climbing, again and again, for ever....

                                                                                                                                  Translated by John Bester

                                                                                                                                  Kanbayashi Akatsuki (1902-1980 ) began writing novels while editor of the review Kaizo. He first won recognition with The Man Who Stole the Rose(Bara Nusuhito), a lyrical work portraying the world of boys. Leaving Kaizo he devoted himself to writing, and gradually gained a reputation as a writer of watakushi-shosetsu, or “I-novels ”—a peculiarly Japanese form describing in detail the author’s own experiences and emotions. The characters in his works are, accordingly, confined to real persons about him—his family, relatives, friends in the literary world, girls in his favorite bars, and so on. His output is small but unique, and he has a faithful if limited following. Other important works are About Father and Mother(Chichi Haha no Ki, 1939), At St. John's Hospital(Sei Yohane Byoin Nite 1946), and Diary of Late Spring (Banshu Nikki, 1946). “At St. John’s Hospital, ” an especially powerful work, deals with the madness and death of his wife.

                                                                                                                                  Vision in Spring (Haru no Saka )made its debut in the author’s anthology Vision in Spring published in 1958 by Chikuma Shobo Publishing Co., Ltd. The following year it received Select Art Award from Ministry of Education. This was his first work after partial paralysis of his body due to his first stroke. One can observe a mature couple lit by a spring sun walking up along a yellow-color flavored hill. Fantasy in the author’s mind gathered the threads of a story of their broken married life. It etched an impressive work reminiscing over a faded sepia photograph. Vision in Spring was translated into English by Japan Pen Club and published in July 1958 (From The Japan P.E.N. News No.3, 1-7, 1958)

                                                                                                                                  **************************************** The Japan P.E.N. Club, in order to preserve them in an archive of modern Japanese culture, is digitizing the English translations of literary works as they appeared in The Japan P.E.N. News (irregular publication dates, July 1958-September 1971) and will publish them at irregular dates online in the Digital Library - International Edition. ****************************************

                                                                                                                                  KANBAYASHI Akatsuki
                                                                                                                                  This page was created on 2016/09/01

                                                                                                                                  Background Color

                                                                                                                                  Font Style

                                                                                                                                  • Default
                                                                                                                                  • For Weak-Eyed

                                                                                                                                  KANBAYASHI Akatsuki

                                                                                                                                  Novelist. October 6, 1902-August 28, 1980. After graduating from Tokyo Imperial University, he joined Kaizo sha Publishing Co., Ltd. One of his early works The Plucker of a Rose(Bara Nusubito)caught the attention of leading writers of that time including Yasunari Kawabata, whose recommendation was part of the reason for Kanbayashi, a professional short story teller. Among his works, Byo Sai Mono or a series of ill wives stories received special mention. Those works, various narrations of trying experiences of taking care of ill wives became popular. Perhaps best known and recommended among them is At St. John Hospital (Sei Yohane Byoin Nite) based on his own experience of taking care of his wife who was suffering from severe mental ailments. Later, after the Second World War, Akatsuki himself became ill after two bouts of cerebral apoplexy. Yet he continued to write with the help of his sister, who dictated her brother’s stories. In the realm of the Japanese literature, Kanbayashi is known as one of the leading masters of personal experience writers and short story tellers. Unlike self-destructive types of personal experience writers so well known among us, he described his stories writing in his detached observer style reaching even to the arena of stoicism. For his works, he received a host of awards including Yomiuri Prize and Kawabarata Yasunari Award, which is given to great short stories. In 1969, he became a member of Japan Art Academy.

                                                                                                                                  Other Works