3 November 1923|
|Died||August 30, 1995
Kunitachi, Tokyo, Japan
Yamaguchi was born in the Azabu district of Tokyo to a working-class family. He was forced to support himself through college, attending the Kokugakuin University. After graduation, he went to work for the publishing company, Kawade Shobo, but that company went bankrupt a couple of years later. He then found employment as the editor of a wine magazine published by Kotobukiya (the forerunner of Suntory); his colleagues at the same magazine included Kaikō Ken and Yanagihara Ryōhei. The advertising campaign he mounted popularized Hawaii as a tourist destination as well as promoting Suntory whiskey.
Yamaguchi's true literary career started in 1954, when he began contributing works to the magazine of literary criticism, Gendai Hyoron ("Contemporary Criticism").
Yamaguchi won the 1963 Naoki Prize for his novel, Eburimanshi no yuga na seikatsu ("The Refined Lifestyle of Mr. Everyman"), which appeared serialized in the women's monthly magazine, Fujin Gaho, from 1961-2. This story about an average white-collar worker in Tokyo set the tone for many of his future works, which mock the new affluence of urban society in the 1960s, in contrast to the bitter war and post-war period.
Other noted works are: Majime ningen ("A Serious Person"), Izakaya Choji, Ketsu zoku ("Blood Relations"), Kazoku (Family) and Waga machi ("Our Town"). Nanjamonja is a humorous account of travels around Japan.
Yamaguchi also wrote a biography on Yoshino Hideo, in which he describes his own experiences during the period he lived in Kamakura, in the house next door to Kawabata Yasunari from 1945-1948. During his time in Kamakura, he attended the Kamakura Academia, where his teachers included the philosopher and science historian, Saegusa Hiroto, the tanka poet, Yoshino Hideo, and the novelist and poet, Takami Jun. After that, he moved to Kunitachi, in the outskirts of Tokyo.
Dansei jishin ("Man Himself"), a series of witty essays about the joys and sorrows of everyday life, was serialized in the weekly magazine, Shukan Shincho, from 1963 until his death in 1995 for a total of 1,614 episodes.