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Literature Profile

Literary figures closely associated with Karuizawa

Karuizawa was visited by many literary figures, who left behind many works captured by their rich sensibilities.
Let us introduce the backgrounds and works of these literary figures and their connections to Karuizawa.

~Takeo Arishima (1878-1923)
Takeo Arishima first visited Karuizawa in August 1916. On June 9, 1923, he surprised the public by having an affair with a magazine journalist, Akiko Hatano, who died in their villa “Jogetsuan” in Mikasa, Karuizawa. His works depicting Karuizawa include “Shinano Nikki (Shinano Diary)” and “Kosaki Kage (Small Shadow). He gave two lectures at a summer university in Karuizawa. His works include “Aru Onna” (A Woman), “Cain’s Descendant” (A Descendant of Cain), and “Nate desu Kuru Anguish” (Novels), “Ai wa Miminashi Ai ga Robufu” (Criticism), and “Ichibo no Upe” (A Bunch of Grapes) (Children’s Stories). His younger brothers are Arishima Ikuma (Western-style painter) and Satomi Min (novelist), and his eldest son is Mori Masayuki (actor).
~Hiroko Katayama (1878-1957)
Hiroko Katayama is a poet and translator of Irish literature. Her talent led Ryunosuke Akutagawa to write that she was “a woman who could fight above her talent” (“The Life of an Idiot”). In Karuizawa, she spent summers from 1921 onward at the former Wynn villa and other places. She had a deep influence on the world of Tatsuo Hori’s works, including “The Holy Family,” “The Storybook Woman,” and “Nahoko. His collections of poems include “Jade” and “No ni Sumite” and his collection of essays “Tokusetsu”.
~Masamune Hakucho (1879-1962)
Shiratori Masamune was one of the leading writers of naturalism. He was also an active critic of literature, art, and theater. Shiratori Shomune first visited Karuizawa in 1912, when he visited Ikaho. In 1940, he built a villa in Roppon Tsuji, where he spent most of his summers. He lived there during World War II and until 1957 (Showa 32). Shortly after the war, he published “Escape from Japan,” a novel set in a summer resort (Karuizawa). Shortly after the war, Shiratori Masamune was famous for walking the streets in his knickerbockers. After his death, a monument to his poetry was erected in the old Karuizawa.
~Yaeko Nogami (1885-1985)
Toyoichiro Nogami and his wife, Yayoko, have spent summers at a mountain villa in the Hosei University Village in Kita-Karuizawa since 1928. Toyoichiro is an English literature scholar. She was an active writer until the age of 99. Her works set in Karuizawa include “Maze” and “Kijo Sanbouki,” a collection of essays. His major works include “Machiko,” “Maze,” “Hideyoshi and Rikyu,” and “Mori. The villa’s detached “Onijo Sambo” (study and tearoom) was moved to the front yard of Karuizawa Kogen Bunko in 1996.
~Saisei Murou (1889-1962)
Saisei Muroo visited Karuizawa for the first time in 1920, and built a purely Japanese-style villa at 1133 Karuizawa under the Otsuka Mountain in 1931. From 1944 to September 1949, the family lived in an evacuation. His works set in Karuizawa include “Anzu-ko”, “Seijojo”, “Kisubuhi” (novels), “Usui Sanjo no Tsuki”, “Shinano Oiwake no Ki” (essays), and others. Her major works include “Ai no shishu” (A collection of love poems), “Lyric kokyoku shu” (collection of poems), “Sei ni awakeneru koro ni” (When I awaken to sex), “Kyokko” (Anzu child), and “Minoru no ahare” (novels). Asako Muroo (essayist) is her eldest daughter.
~ Kunio Kishida (1890-1954)
In 1931, playwright Kunio Kishida built a villa in the style of a Dutch farmhouse in the Hosei University Village in Kita-Karuizawa, where he spent the following summers. He loved the nature at the foot of Mt. Asama and raised goats and crepe goats. Kunio Kishida was exposed to European avant-garde theater, and published psychological comedies with an esprit, such as “Autumn in Tyrol” and “Buranko,” as well as novels and criticism. He was also active as a theater activist, founding the Bungakuza Theater Company with Toyo Iwata and Mantaro Kubota in 1937. His works set in Kita-Karuizawa and Shinshu include “Asama-yama” (play), “Izumi” and “The Best Chestnut Tree in the Village” (both novels). Eriko Kishida (poet and writer of children’s stories) is her eldest daughter, and Kyoko Kishida (actor) is her second daughter.
~Akutagawa Ryunosuke (1892-1927)
Ryunosuke Akutagawa visited Karuizawa twice, once in 1924 and once the following year, spending about a month in summer at the Tsuruya Ryokan in Old Karuizawa. He also stayed with his friends Saisei Muroo, Tatsuo Hori, Sakutaro Hagiwara, and others. In his 1925 draft of “In Karuizawa,” Akutagawa wrote of Karuizawa, “Sayonara. Goodbye, town of the hand harp, goodbye to my lyric poetry era. Hiroshi Akutagawa (actor) is his eldest son.
~Serizawa, Kojiro (1896-1993)
In 1932, Kojira Serizawa, who continued to write works overflowing with love and humanism, established a mountain villa in Hoshino, where he spent many summers until the end of his life at the age of 96. Kojira Serizawa, who suffered from tuberculosis in his youth and spent his convalescence in Switzerland, seemed to see in Karuizawa the Switzerland of Japan. His major works include “Bourgeois,” “Death in Paris,” “Love, Knowledge, Sorrow,” and “The Fate of Man” (14 volumes), and in “God’s Smile,” the first novel in the God series, which he wrote one book each year from the age of 90, there is a scene in which the hero talks with a tree in the garden of his mountain cottage.
~ Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972)
Kawabata Yasunari, the first Japanese to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, was a central figure in the New Sensibility School and the Emerging Artists School, and his works depict an unrealistic aesthetic world and are backed by a unique Japanese aesthetic sense. Kawabata first visited Karuizawa in 1931, when he visited the Kozu Farm with Kikuchi Kan and others. Later, in 1937, he purchased a foreign missionary’s villa in Sakura-no-zawa, and later built a new villa, where he spent summers and autumns. His works set in Karuizawa include “Pastoral Song,” “Highland,” and “Autumn Breeze Highland. His major works include “Kinju (Birds and Beasts),” “Yukiguni (Snow Country),” “Senbazuru (A Thousand Cranes),” “Yama no Oto (The Sound of Mountains),” and “Sleeping Beauty.
~Tatsuo Hori (1904-1953)
In 1923, when he was a student at Daiichi High School, Tatsuo Hori was invited by Saisei Muroo to visit Karuizawa for the first time at the age of 19. He wrote to his friend Kiyoshi Jinzai about his impression of Karuizawa, “All I met on the road were foreigners and foreign languages. He wrote to him, “All I meet on the road are foreigners and foreign languages. On May 28, 1953, he died of illness at his home in Oiwake. His masterpiece “The Wind Rises” was completed in the winter of 1937 at Kawabata Yasunari’s villa in Sakura-no-Sawa after a difficult labor. He also wrote excellent essays and short stories such as “The Wooden Cross” and “Spring at Joruri-ji Temple.
~ Fumiko Enchi (1905-1986)
Fumiko Enchi, who made use of her rich classical education to publish novels that sharply depicted the nature of female sexuality, had spent summers at her villa in Roppon Tsuji since 1938. 1945 saw the loss of her Tokyo home in an air raid, and she also experienced life as an evacuee. He started out as a playwright and later published mainly novels. His major works include “String Moonlight,” “Onnazaka,” “Namamiko Monogatari,” and “Shu wo Robu Mono. He has also translated “The Tale of Genji” into modern Japanese. Highland Lyric” and “Saifu” (originally titled “Karuizawa”) are novels set in Karuizawa. Second daughter of the Japanese linguist Ueda Kazutoshi.
~ Yasushi Inoue (1907-1991)
Novelist Yasushi Inoue, who opened up his own literary world in a wide range of historical, contemporary, and autobiographical novels, including “Hyoukabe,” “Tenpyo no Iraka,” “Shirobanba,” and “Confucius,” was born in Asahikawa, Hokkaido and raised in Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture. He graduated from the old fourth high school (Kanazawa) and Kyoto University (Kyoto), and has many connections with various places, but had a villa in Karuizawa. In 1960, he built a new house in Uenohara, Nakakaruizawa, where he spent mainly summers from then on. In Karuizawa, he was also passionate about golf for a time. His works depicting Karuizawa include “Melancholy Plain,” and the poems “Late Summer” and “Heki Ochiri.
~ Michizo Tachihara (1914-1939)
In the summer of 1934, the poet and architect Michizo Tachihara stayed in Shinano Oibu for the first time, and made his first appearance in the literary world with the publication of two poems, “Village Life” and “Poem is” in “Shiki. Since then, he repeatedly visited Shinano Oiwake and published many sonnets (14-line poems) and other poems rich in musicality. In Karuizawa, he deepened his friendship with Tatsuo Hori, Saisei Muroo, and others, with whom he had studied under. He published at his own expense a collection of poems, “Kayagusa ni yosu” (“Yosegusa”) and “Dawn and Evening Poems” (“Dawn and Evening Poems”). He died of illness at the age of 24 years and 8 months.
~Shinichiro Nakamura (1918-1997)
Before and during World War II, Shinichiro Nakamura often visited the Bear House and Tatsuo Hori’s 1412 Villa in Old Karuizawa with his literary friends. After World War II, it was his longtime custom to spend summers at various rental villas. As a writer of the postwar generation, he engaged in vigorous writing activities, focusing on novels and literary criticism. He is also known for his friendship with Takehiko Fukunaga and Shuichi Kato. His major works include “Under the Shadow of Death,” “Kumo no Yukirai,” “Rai Sanyo and His Times,” “Four Seasons” tetralogy, and “Kimura Kenkado’s Salon. His works depicting Karuizawa include “The Four Seasons” and “Tale of Fire Mountain. Former director of the Karuizawa Kogen Bunko.
~Takehiko Fukunaga (1918-1979)
Takehiko Fukunaga’s literary departure was “Fudo,” completed in 1952. His works are characterized by meticulous writing and the creation of romance with perfect structure. His major works include “Kusa no hana” (Flower of Grass), “Haishi” (Waste City), “Oblivion River” (River of Forgetfulness), and “Kai-shi” (Sea City), Island of Death. He named the villa in Shinano Oiwake, which he received from playwright Michio Kato, “Ganso Tei,” and enjoyed visiting Karuizawa from season to season. He wrote many essays on Karuizawa, and in his later years left watercolor paintings of flowers and grasses in the highlands.
~ Shusaku Endo (1923-1996)
Shusaku Endo, known for his novels such as “The Sea and Poison”, “Silence”, and “The Deep River”, and his humorous essays “Korian”, visited Karuizawa when he was a student, and after returning from his studies in France, he began spending summers there to recuperate. After 1968, he spent his summers in Karuizawa, where he built a villa in Chigataki, and wrote. In 1965, he finished the first draft of “Silence” (original title: “The Smell of the Sun”) at a rented villa in Roppon Tsuji, which used to be a hospital. His play “Rose House” is set in St. Paul’s Church. In Karuizawa, he enjoyed the company of Kita Tofu, Yashiro Seiichi, and other close literary friends.
~ Kunio Tsuji (1925-1999)
Kunio Tsuji, known for his highly artistic and spiritual novels such as “The Fortress of Summer,” “Julian the Apostate,” and “Saigyo Kaden,” spent his summers at a number of rental villas in Karuizawa after his return from France in 1964. (In 1999, he died suddenly of heart failure in Karuizawa, where he was staying. His other works include “Azuchi Oukanki,” “Sagano Meigetsu Ki,” “The Crowning of Spring,” and “Ki no Koe, Umi no Koe. A graduate of the former Matsumoto High School, he wrote many essays on Shinshu and Karuizawa.

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