Hiromi Kawakami

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Hiromi Kawakami
Born1958 (age 64–65)
Tokyo, Japan
Alma materOchanomizu Women's College
GenreFiction, poetry
Notable worksTread on a Snake, The Briefcase/Strange Weather in Tokyo
Notable awards

Hiromi Kawakami (川上 弘美, Kawakami Hiromi, born 1958) is a Japanese writer known for her off-beat fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. She has won numerous Japanese literary awards, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, and the Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature. Her work has been adapted for film, and has been translated into more than 15 languages.

Early life and education[edit]

Kawakami was born in Tokyo in 1958 and grew up in the Takaido neighborhood of Suginami City.[1] She graduated from Ochanomizu Women's College in 1980.[2]


After graduating from college Kawakami began writing and editing for NW-SF, a Japanese science fiction magazine.[3] Her first short story, "Sho-shimoku" ("Diptera"), appeared in NW-SF in 1980.[2] She also taught science in a middle school and high school, but became a housewife when her husband had to relocate for work.[4][1]

In 1994, at the age of 36, Kawakami debuted as a writer of literary fiction with a collection of short stories entitled Kamisama (God).[4] In 1996 Hebi wo fumi (Tread on a snake) won the Akutagawa Prize, one of Japan's most prestigious literary awards.[5] It was later translated into English under the title Record of a Night Too Brief.[6] She received the Tanizaki Prize in 2001 for her novel Sensei no kaban (The Briefcase or Strange Weather in Tokyo), a love story about a friendship and romance between a woman in her thirties and her former teacher, a man in his seventies.[7] After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Kawakami rewrote her debut short story "Kamisama" ("God"), keeping the original plot but incorporating the events of Fukushima into the story.[8]

In 2014 the film Nishino Yukihiko no Koi to Bōken, based on Kawakami's 2003 novel of the same name and starring Yutaka Takenouchi and Machiko Ono, was released nationwide in Japan.[9] That same year Kawakami's novel Suisei (水声) was published by Bungeishunjū. Suisei won the 66th Yomiuri Prize in 2015, with selection committee member Yōko Ogawa praising the book for expanding the horizon of literature.[10] In 2016 Kawakami's book Ōkina tori ni sarawarenai yō (大きな鳥にさらわれないよう), a collection of 14 short stories published by Kodansha, won the 44th Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature.[11]

Writing style[edit]

Kawakami's work explores emotional ambiguity by describing the intimate details of everyday social interactions.[12] Many of her stories incorporate elements of fantasy and magical realism. Her writing has drawn comparisons to Lewis Carroll[13] and Banana Yoshimoto,[14] and she has cited Gabriel García Márquez and J. G. Ballard as influences.[15] Many of her short stories, novel extracts, and essays have been translated into English, including "God Bless You" ("Kamisama"),[16] "The Moon and the Batteries" (extract from Sensei no kaban),[17] "Mogera Wogura",[18] "Blue Moon",[19] "The Ten Loves of Nishino".[20], and People in My Neighborhood.

Awards and honors[edit]

Film adaptation[edit]

Selected works[edit]

Original publication English publication
Title Year Title Year
1994 Partial translation included in Read Real Japanese Fiction, trans. Michael Emmerich, Kodansha, ISBN 9784770030580 2008
Hebi wo fumu
1996 Record of a Night Too Brief, trans. Lucy North, Pushkin Press, ISBN 9781782272717 2017
2000 N/A N/A
Sensei no kaban
2001 The Briefcase, trans. Allison Markin Powell, Counterpoint, ISBN 9781582435992
Strange Weather in Tokyo, trans. Allison Markin Powell, Counterpoint, ISBN 9781640090163
2002 Parade: A Folktale, trans. Allison Markin Powell, Soft Skull Press, ISBN 9781593765804 2019
Nishino Yukihiko no koi to bōken
2003 The Ten Loves of Nishino, trans. Allison Markin Powell, Europa Editions, ISBN 9781609455330 2019
古道具 中野商店
Furudōgu Nakano shōten
2005 The Nakano Thrift Shop, trans. Allison Markin Powell, Europa Editions, ISBN 9781609453992 2016
2006 Manazuru trans. Michael Emmerich, Counterpoint, ISBN 9781582436272 2010
Pasutamashīn no yūrei
2010 N/A N/A
2014 N/A N/A
Ōkina tori ni sarawarenai yō
2016 N/A N/A
Kono atari no hitotachi
2016 People From My Neighborhood, trans. Ted Goossen, Soft Skull Press (publisher), ISBN 9781593767112 2021


  1. ^ a b Kawakami, Hiromi. "作家の読書道:第7回 川上 弘美さん" [Author's Reading Path Volume 7: Hiromi Kawakami]. WEB本の雑誌 (Interview) (in Japanese). Interviewed by WEB本の雑誌 Editorial Department. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Japan Society Book Club: Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami". Japan Society of the UK. March 13, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  3. ^ Ashley, Mike (2007). Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-fiction Magazines from 1970 to 1980. Liverpool University Press.
  4. ^ a b "どっち派? 川上弘美と小川洋子" (in Japanese). May 2, 2018. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Flanagan, Damian (May 27, 2017). "'Record of a Night Too Brief': Hiromi Kawakami uncoils life's mysteries with an exploration of dreams". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  6. ^ Larson, M. W. (July 19, 2017). "The Folkloric and the Fantastic: Hiromi Kawakami's "Record of a Night Too Brief"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "谷崎潤一郎賞受賞作品一覧 (List of Tanizaki Prize Award Winners)". Chuo Koron Shinsha (in Japanese). Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  8. ^ Dejima, Yukiko (September 15, 2016). "Chapter 3: Tsunamis and Earthquakes in Japanese Literature". In Karan, Pradyumna; Suganuma, Unryu (eds.). Japan after 3/11: Global Perspectives on the Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Meltdown. University Press of Kentucky.
  9. ^ 宇田川, 幸洋 (February 8, 2014). "ニシノユキヒコの恋と冒険". Nikkei Style (in Japanese). Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  10. ^ "小説賞 川上弘美 「水声」" [Novel Prize: Hiromi Kawakami for Suisei]. Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). February 2, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
  11. ^ "泉鏡花文学賞 川上弘美さんが受賞" [Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature awarded to Hiromi Kawakami]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). October 13, 2016. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  12. ^ Larson, M.W. (November 27, 2017). "The Anxiety of Intimacy in Hiromi Kawakami's "The Nakano Thrift Shop"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  13. ^ Kidd, James (February 9, 2017). "Japanese author Hiromi Kawakami leads us down increasingly bizarre rabbit holes". South China Morning Post. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  14. ^ Moloney, Iain (July 1, 2017). "'The Nakano Thrift Shop': Hiromi Kawakami furthers her exploration of form and style". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  15. ^ Doyle, Martin (May 5, 2014). "Hiromi Kawakami briefs us on her literary life". The Irish Times. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  16. ^ Kawakami, Hiromi (March 20, 2012). "God Bless You". Granta. Translated by Goossen, Ted; Shibata, Motoyuki. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  17. ^ Kawakami, Hiromi (January 11, 2012). "The Moon and the Batteries". Granta. Translated by Markin Powell, Allison. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  18. ^ Kawakami, Hiromi (2005). "Mogera Wogura". Paris Review. Vol. 173. Translated by Emmerich, Michael. Archived from the original on November 1, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  19. ^ Kawakami, Hiromi (April 24, 2014). "Blue Moon". Granta. Translated by North, Lucy. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  20. ^ Gattig, Nicolas (July 13, 2019). "'The Ten Loves of Nishino': Ten tales to chronicle the growing sadness of an aging Casanova". The Japan Times. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  21. ^ "Hiromi Kawakami | AUTHOR | Translation Works | Japanese Literature Publishing Project:JLPP". www.jlpp.go.jp. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  22. ^ "伊藤整文学賞". 伊藤整文学賞の会 (in Japanese). Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  23. ^ "芸術選奨歴代受賞者一覧(昭和25年度~)" (PDF) (in Japanese). Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved September 9, 2018.
  24. ^ Alison Flood (January 9, 2013). "Man Asian literary prize shortlist stages Booker re-match". The Guardian. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  25. ^ Alison Flood (April 8, 2014). "Knausgaard heads Independent foreign fiction prize shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  26. ^ "第66回読売文学賞(2014年度)" [66th Yomiuri Prize for Literature (published in 2014)] (in Japanese). Yomiuri Shimbun. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  27. ^ "泉鏡花文学賞" [Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature] (in Japanese). City of Kanazawa. Retrieved September 8, 2018.
  28. ^ "川上弘美『ニシノユキヒコの恋と冒険』が映画化、主演・竹野内豊が多彩女優陣と恋に". Cinra.net (in Japanese). July 29, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2018.

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