Tokyo Notebook

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Posted by Kinakinw | --:-- | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | スポンサー広告

13 2011

Influential Book in My Adolescence


Meiji Ryokan (旅館明治, a Japanese-style hot spring inn) in which my friend and I stayed in Kofu (甲府, the capital city of Yamanashi Prefecture) is Inn of Osamu Dazai (太宰 治, 1909 – 1948), one of fiction writers representing 20th-century Japan. He is known for his ironic and gloomy wit and his obsession with suicide. Actually, he committed unsuccessful love-suicides and finally accomplished it when he was 38 years old.

According to Meiji Ryokan’s HP, Dazai visited the inn located in Yumura hot spring resort (湯村温泉) twice in 1942 and 1943, and during his stay, he wrote Right and Smile (正義と微笑) and Minister of the Right Sanetomo(右大臣実朝) respectively. There is Dazai Museum in the corner of the lobby.


Dazai3 Dazai4
The author was connected to Kofu. When he stopped writing in 1938 because of fighting the Pabinal (a morphine-based painkiller) addiction and his third suicide attempt, Masuji Ibuse (井伏鱒二, 1898 – 1993, a Japanese author) invited him to stay in a cottage in Yamanashi (天下茶屋). After staying in it, he married a woman from Kofu through the good offices of Ibuse. The couple peacefully lived in Kofu for a while, and he restarted writing.

I found the first published edition of "No Longer Human (人間失格)" among the items on display.
That is Dazai's masterpiece and one of influential books in my adolescence.

He literally broke his back for the novel.

The novel draws the portrait of the life of a central character, which is modeled on him, who cannot show him and instead pretends someone else to live with others. Many Dazai’s works are written from “first person” viewpoint, a style of "I Novels (私小説)", and this one (its plot is just like tracing Dazai’s life) is believed to have been his will because it was published after his death.


Mine has been a life of much shame.
I can’t even guess myself what it must be to live the life of human being. I was born in a village in the Northeast, and it wasn’t until I was quite big that I saw my first train.

1958 Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human
Translated by Donald Keene
New Directions Publishing Corporation: New York

The masterpiece gave Kinakinw, as a high school girl, a soul-shaking experience. “I” in the novel reminded me of me, and I thought as if “I” were my own. I reread it in my early 20’s and had the same experience. I think my youth was quite sound.

Meiji Ryokan has a genuine gensen kakenagashi (源泉掛け流し) bathtub into which pure hot spring water is poured directly.
In that bathtub, I was deeply impressed by the thought of that Dazai enjoyed the same water.


Posted by Kinakinw | 20:49 | Comment [0] | TrackBack [0] | Cultural Issue (Japan)

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