Hisashi Inoue, 2008
16 November 1934|
Kawanishi, Yamagata, Japan
|Died||9 April 2010
Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan
|Genre||novels, stage plays|
Inoue was born in what is now part of Kawanishi in Yamagata Prefecture, where his father was a pharmacist, who was also involved in an agrarian reform movement and who managed a local drama troupe. For reasons which are not clear, he was listed in the family registry as legitimate. He lost his father when he was 5 years old and after suffering from child abuse at the hands of his stepfather, he was subsequently sent off to a Lasallian orphanage in Sendai, where he received a Christian baptism. He graduated from Sophia University’s Facility of Letters, continuing on to graduate school in French literature, with a two-year hiatus in between to raise more money for his studies by working at a sanatorium in Kamaishi, Iwate.
Even before graduation, Inoue began his literary career as a stage manager and by writing scripts for the Furasu-za striptease theater in Asakusa, Tokyo. It was common to have a one-hour vaudeville performance before and between strip acts, and many famous actors, including Kiyoshi Atsumi started their careers in such an environment. He wrote a semi-fictional account of his life during this period in Mokkinpotto Shi no Atoshimatsu ("The Fortunes of Father Mockinpott"). After graduation, he obtained a position as a script writer for a puppet drama Hyokkori Hyotanjima, which aired from April 1964 for a five year period.
After an initial career in radio, he wrote his first stage play Nihonjin no Heso in 1969 for Theatre Echo. He first gained literary recognition for his satirical comic plays in the tradition of the Edo period gesaku genre. Inoue has won a very large number of literary awards in the course of his career, including the 67th Naoki Prize in 1972 for his novel Tegusari Shinju ("Handcuffed Double Suicide"). He followed on this success in 1981 with Kirikirijin ("The People of Kirikiri"), which was awarded both the Yomiuri Literary Prize and the 2nd Japan Science Fiction Award.
In 1984, Inoue established his own theatre troupe, called Komatsuza, to perform his own plays. These include biographical works on Meiji period writers Ishikawa Takuboku and Higuchi Ichiyō, whom he had long admired. In 1988, he completed a comic trilogy: Kirameku seiza, Yami ni saku hana, Yuki ya kon kon, depicting the lives of ordinary people in the Shōwa period. Despite his activity with the theatre, Inoue continued to write novels, winning the 1982 Seiun Award for Best Novel for Kirikirijin, the Yoshikawa Eiji Literary Prize for Treasury of Disloyal Retainers in 1986, the 27th Tanizaki Prize for Shanghai Moon in 1991, and the Kikuchi Kan Prize for Tokyo Seven Roses in 1999. In 1984, the Writer's Block Library was opened in Kawanishi, Yamagata, thanks to Inoue's donation of his 100,000 volume book collection. Inoue was awarded the Asahi Prize in the year 2000 and the Yomiuri Literary Prize again in 2010. In 2004, he was designated a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government.
Chichi to kuraseba, has been translated into the English language by Roger Pulvers under the title The Face of Jizo.
Inoue had lived in Ichikawa, Chiba in the 1970s, and moved to Kamakura, Kanagawa from 1989, where he lived to his death. He had three daughters by his first wife, Yoshiko Nishidate, who was a stage actress and political activist. His second wife, Lily, was the sister of essayist and translator Mari Yonehara, and the daughter of Arika Yonehara, a senior member of the Japan Communist Party, and gave him a son.
Inoue hated air travel, but was fascinated by the city of Bologna in Italy, which he visited in 2004. He had previously visited Australia in 1976, and had also visited New York in the 1980s for discussion about a possible Broadway version of a story of Miyamoto Musashi he was planning to write.
Inoue served as president of the Japan P.E.N. Club from 2003 to 2007. He was also director of the Japan Association of Playwrights, and director of the Institute of Japanese Literature. An outspoken pacifist, Inoue established a political group in support of the Constitution of Japan with Kenzaburo Oe in 2004.
- Ame (雨), 1976.
- Buraun kangoku no shiki (ブラウン 監獄 の 四季), Tōkyō : Kōdansha, 1977.
- Jūninin no tegami (十二人 の 手紙), Tōkyō : Chūō Kōronsha, 1978.
- Tanin no chi (他人 の 血), Tōkyō : Kōdansha, 1979.
- Seibo no dōkeshi(聖母 の 道化師), 1981.
- Shikaban Nihongo bunpō (私家版 日本語 文法), Tokyo : Shinchōsha, 1981.
- Hon no makura no sōshi(本 の 枕 草子), Tōkyō : Bungei Shunjū, 1982.
- Kotoba o yomu(ことば を 読む), Tōkyō : Chūō Kōronsha, 1982.
- Shichinin no sakkatachi : intabyū-shū (七人 の 作家たち : インタビュー集), Tōkyō : Doyō Bijutsusha, 1983.
- Moto no mokuami(もと の 黙阿弥), Tōkyō : Bungei Shunjū, 1983.
- Nippon hakubutsushi(にっぽん 博物誌), Tōkyō : Asahi Shinbunsha, 1983.
- Inoue Hisashi zen shibai(井上 ひさし 全 芝居), Tōkyō : Shinchōsha, 1984.
- Jikasei bunshō-dokuhon (自家製 文章読本), Tōkyō : Shinchōsha, 1984.
- Fu Chūshingura (不 忠臣蔵), Tōkyō : Shūeisha, 1985.
- Kuni yutaka ni shite gi o wasure (国 ゆたか に して 義 を 忘れ), Tōkyō : Kadokawa Shoten, 1985.
- Fukkoki (腹鼓記), Tōkyō : Shinchōsha, 1985.
- Yonsenmanpo no otoko. Ezo hen (四千万步 の 男. 蝦夷 篇 ), Tōkyō : Kōdansha, 1986.
- Yonsenmanpo no otoko. Izu hen (四千万步 の 男. 伊豆 篇 ), Tōkyō : Kōdansha, 1989.
- Shanhai mūn, (シャンハイ ムーン), Tōkyō : Shūeisha, 1991.
- Nihongo nikki (ニホン語 日記), Tōkyō : Bungei shunjū, 1993.
- Chichi to Kuraseba (The Face of Jizo) (父と暮せば), Tōkyō, 1994.
- Besuto serā no sengoshi (ベスト セラー の 戦後史), Tōkyō : Bungei Shunjū, 1995.
- Hon no unmei (本 の 運命), Tōkyō : Bungei Shunjū, 1997.
- Yonsenmanpo no otoko, Chūkei no ikikata (四千万步 の 男・忠敬 の 生き方), Tōkyō : Kōdansha, 2003.
- Hisashi Inoue at J'Lit Books from Japan (English)
- Synopsis of Tokyo Seven Roses (Tokyo sebun rozu) at JLPP (Japanese Literature Publishing Project) (English)
- Time Magazine article from August 1 1983
- Home page of Komatsuza Theater Company (Japanese)
- Entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
- Japan Times obituary