Great Literary and Social Realist Novelists

Proper Noun Trivia

*This series explains the meanings of proper names, including names of places, companies, people, brands and others.
Name 芥川 龍之介
Romaji
Hiragana
AKUTAGAWA Ryunosuke
あくたがわ りゅうのすけ
Kanji meaning refuse / river / dragon / of / medium
Japan’s most prestigious literary accolade – the Akutagawa Prize – bears his name. His stories, such as “Kumo no Ito” (A Spider’s Thread), appear in Japanese school textbooks. His best known works are “Rashomon” and “Yabu no Naka” (In a Grove) and “Jigoku Hen” (Hell Screen). (1892-1927)

 

Name 川端 康成
Romaji
Hiragana
KAWABATA Yasunari
かわばた やすなり
Kanji meaning river / edge / ease / turn into
He received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1968. He made his debut with the famous short story, “Izu no Odoriko” (The Dancing Girl of Izu). His best known work would be “Yukiguni” (Snow Country). “Koto” (The Old Capital) is renowned both in Japan and overseas. (1899-1972).

 

Name 三島 由紀夫
Romaji
Hiragana
MISHIMA Yukio
みしま ゆきお
Kanji meaning three / island / wherefore / chronicle / man (husband)
Mishima is mostly remembered for committing samurai-style ritual suicide. The sun, the physical, and the sensual were common themes in his work and his avant-garde style blended modern and traditional aesthetics. His most famous work is “Kinkakuji” (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion). (1925-1970)

 

Name 松本 清張
Romaji
Hiragana
MATSUMOTO Seicho
まつもと せいちょう
Kanji meaning pine tree / origin (book) / pure / stretch
His revolutionary crime fiction novels were bestsellers. They are not only ‘who done it’ stories, but also reflect a wider social context, incorporating elements of human psychology. His best known works are “Ten to Sen” (Points and Lines) and “Suna no Utsuwa” (Vessel of Sand). (1909-1992)

 

Name 山崎 豊子
Romaji
Hiragana
YAMASAKI Toyoko
やまさき とよこ
Kanji meaning mountain / promontory / bountiful / child
Yamasaki wrote stories about social issues based on actual events, and “Futatsu no Sokoku” (Two Homelands) is drawn from the biography of a Japanese American. There are many famous novels which were filmed, including “Shiroi Kyoto” (Huge White Tower). (1924-2013)

 

Name 有吉 佐和子
Romaji
Hiragana
ARIYOSHI Sawako
ありよし さわこ
Kanji meaning possess / good luck / assistant / harmony / child
Ariyoshi dealt with significant social issues in her fiction: “Hanaoka Seishu no Tsuma” (The Doctor’s Wife) is about breast cancer surgery, “Koukotsu no Hito” (The Twilight Years) is about ageism; and “Fukugo Osen” (The Complex Contamination) is about pollution. (1931-1984)

[From Hiragana Times article]

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