Junji Kinoshita

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Kinoshita Junji
Born 木下 順二
(1914-08-02)August 2, 1914
Tokyo, Japan
Died October 30, 2006(2006-10-30) (aged 92)
Occupation Playwright, Translator, Literary Critic
Nationality Japanese
Education MA, University of Tokyo (1939)
Literary movement Shingeki
Notable work(s) Twilight Crane
Between God and Man
Notable award(s) Kishida Prize for Drama (1947)
Mainichi Press Drama Award (1949)
Sankei Award for Children's
Books and Publications (1959)
Mainichi Press Book Award (1959, 1965)
Yomiuri Literature Prize (1978, 1984)
Asahi Press Award (1986)

Junji Kinoshita (木下 順二 Kinoshita Junji?, 2 August 1914 – 30 October 2006) was perhaps the foremost playwright of modern drama in postwar Japan. He was also a translator and scholar of the plays of Shakespeare.

Life and career[edit]

Kinoshita was born in Tokyo, son of a government official, Kinoshita Yahachiro, and his wife Sassa Mie. He attended school in the city until 1925 when his family moved back to their family home in Kumamoto in Kyushu. There he attended Kumamoto Prefectural Middle School and later went on to Kumamoto Fifth High School, where he received a degree equivalent to that of a western university. In 1936, he returned to Tokyo to attend the Imperial University and where he studied English literature. He graduated with a Masters Degree from University of Tokyo, in 1939 and continued in school, then pursuing Elizabethan Theater History.[1]

Many of his plays were based on Japanese folk tales, but he also created works set in contemporary Japan that deal with social questions. His better-known works that have been translated into English include Twilight Crane (夕鶴, Yūzuru), 1949; Wind and Waves (風浪, Fūrō), 1947; Between God and Man (神と人とのあいだ, Kami to hito to no aida), 1972; and A Japanese Called Otto (オットーと呼ばれる日本人、Ottō to yobareru nihonjin), 1962, Kinoshita's rendering of the Sorge spy ring incident on the eve of World War Two.[2]

In 1951 composer Ikuma Dan used Kinoshita's Twilight Crane as the libretto for his opera Yūzuru.


Theatre Productions[edit]

  • 1946: Hikoichi-banashi (A Story of Hikoichi)
  • 1947: Hata no oto (The Sound of the Loom)
  • 1947: Sannen-ne Tarō (Taro Who Slept for Three Years)
  • 1947: Sammyaku (The Magic Hearing Cap), premiered at1947.
  • 1948: Yuzuru (Twilight Crane)
  • 1949: Yamanami (Over the Mountain Range), premiered at Mitsukoshi Theatre, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1950: Kurai hibana (Dark Spark)
  • 1952: Kaeru shōten (The Ascension of a Frog), premiered at Mitsukoshi Theatre, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1953: Furo (Turbulent Waves), premiered at First Insurance Hall, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1957: Onnyoro Seisuiki (The Rise and Fall of Onnyoro), premiered at Chiyoda Public Hall, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1960: Onnyoro Seisuiki (The Rise and Fall of Onnyoro), revived as Kabuki play at Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1962: Ottō to yobareru Nihonjin (A Japanese Called Otto), premiered at Sankei Hall, Osaka, Japan
  • 1963: Okinawa, premiered at Sabo Hall, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1964: Fuyu no Jidai (In the Age of Winter), premiered at Toyoko Hall, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1967: Shiroi yoru no utage (Banquet in the White Night), premiered at Sabo Hall, Tokyo, Japan
  • 1970: Shinpan (The Judgment) premiered at Meitetsu Hall, Nagoya, Japan
  • 1987: Natsu Nanpō no Romansu (Summer: A Romance on the South Sea) premiered at Season Theatre, Tokyo Japan
  • 1978: Shigosen no matsuri ('The Meridian Rite), premiered a National Theatre, Tokyo Japan

Plays Published in English[edit]

  • Kami to hito to no aida [comprises Shinpan and Natsu Nanpo no Romansu ] (published as Between God and Man: A Judgment on War Crimes; A Play in Two Parts), trans. Eric J. Gangloff, University of Washington Press, 1979.
  • Yuzuru (published as Twilight Crane), trans. A. C. Scott in Playbook: Five Plays for a New Theatre, New Directions, 1956
  • Omon Tota: A Folktale Play, translated by George Marshall Murphy, University Microfilms, 1979.
  • Ottō to yobareru nihonjin (published as A Japanese Called Otto), trans. Lawrence Rogers in Patriots and Traitors: Sorge and Ozaki, MerwinAsia, 2010.


  1. ^ "Kinoshita Junji.". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Retrieved 4 Nov 2011. 
  2. ^ Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Kodansha, vol. 1, p. 786.