Fumiko Hayashi (author)
Life and career
When Hayashi was seven, her mother ran away with a manager of her common-law husband's store, and afterwards the three worked in Kyūshū as itinerant merchants. After graduating from high school in 1922, Hayashi moved to Tokyo with a lover and lived with several men until settling into marriage with the painter Rokubin Tezuka (手塚 緑敏?) in 1926.
Many of her works revolve around themes of free spirited women and troubled relationships. One of her best-known works is Hōrōki (translated into English as "Vagabond's Song" or "Diary of a Vagabond") (放浪記, 1927), which was adapted into the anime Wandering Days. Another is her late novel Ukigumo (Floating Clouds, 1951), which was made into a movie by Mikio Naruse in 1955. Naruse filmed several of her books, and also directed a biographical film about her in 1962, Horoki (A Wanderer's Notebook).
Hayashi's work is notable as well for its feminist themes. She was later to face criticism for accepting sponsored-trips by the Japanese military government to occupied China, from where she reported positively on Japanese administration.
Until the 1980s, "women's literature" (joryu bungaku) was considered a separate category from other modern Japanese literature. It was critically disparaged as popular but too sentimental. But Ericson's (1997) translations and analysis of the immensely popular Hōrōki and Suisen (Narcissus) suggest that Hayashi's appeal is rooted in the clarity with which she conveys the humanity not just of women, but also others on the underside of Japanese society.
Works by Hayashi include:
- 1930 Horoki (Diary of a Vagabond) - autobiographical novel; source for Naruse's 1962 film A Wanderer's Notebook (Horoki)
- 1931 "Fukin to uo no machi" ("The Accordion and the Fish Town") - short story
- 1933 Seihin no sho (A record of Honorable Poverty) - autobiographical novel
- 1934 Nakimushi Kozo (Cry Baby) - novel - source for Shirō Toyoda's 1938 film Crybaby Apprentice (Nakimushi kozo)
- 1936 Inazuma (Lightning) - novel; source for Naruse's 1952 film Lightning (Inazuma)
- 1947 Uzushio (Swirling Currents) - novel
- 1948 "Bangiku" ("Late Chrysanthemum") - short story; winner of the Women's Literary Award; one of the sources for Naruse's 1954 film Late Chrysanthemums (Bangiku)
- 1949 "Shirosagi" - short story; one of the sources for Naruse's 1954 film Late Chrysanthemums
- 1949 "Suissen" - short story; one of the sources for Naruse's 1954 film Late Chrysanthemums
- 1950 Chairo no me - novel; source for Naruse's 1953 film Wife (Tsuma)
- 1951 Ukigumo (Floating Clouds) - novel; source for Naruse's 1955 film Floating Clouds (Ukigumo)
- 1951 Meshi (Repast) - novel; source for Naruse's 1951 film Repast (Meshi)
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- Ericson, Joan E. (1997). Be a Woman: Hayashi Fumiko and Modern Japanese Women's Literature. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.