Nakayama Gishū in 1955
|Native name||中山 義秀|
5 October 1900|
Shirakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan
|Died||19 August 1969
Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan
|Resting place||Engaku-ji, Kamakura, Japan|
|Alma mater||Waseda University|
|Genre||historical novels, short stories|
|Notable awards||Akutagawa Prize (1938)
Noma Literary Prize (1964)
Japan Art Academy Prize (1966)
Gishū was born in rural Nishishirakawa District, Fukushima, in what is now part of the city of Shirakawa. He was a graduate of Waseda University. While at Waseda, he befriended Yokomitsu Riichi, whose poetry he would later compare to the haiku of Matsui Basho. After his time in the university, he taught English language at a middle school in Mie Prefecture with his new wife, but returned to the Tokyo area two years later to accept a post as an English teacher at a middle school in Narita, Chiba.
While a student at Waseda, Gishū founded a literary magazine, To (“Tower”) together with Yokomitsu Riichi and others, to which he contributed his first story, Ana (“The Hole”).
In 1935, despondent at the death of his wife, he drifted around Japan and drank heavily, but in 1938, he published his first short story collection, Denko (“Electric Light”), and two years later, won the 7th Akutagawa Prize for his novelette Atsumonozaki (厚物咲). These works were followed by the short stories, Ishibumi (“Monument”), Seifu Sassa (“Swift Breeze”) and Fuso (“Wind and Frost”), which secured his reputation in the literary world.
His experiences as a war correspondent in World War II led to the short story Teniyan no matsujitsu in 1948, about two young intellectuals who died on Tinian in the Mariana Islands towards the end of the war. This marked a new start for Gishū, who later concentrated on historical novels, with the main subject being historical figures fighting for lost causes. These works include Shōan, about the 16th century warrior Akechi Mitsuhide, which won the Noma Prize in 1964, and the Japan Art Academy Prize in 1967.
Gishū died of acute anemia in 1969. Shortly before his death, he converted to Christianity; however, his grave is at Shōrei-in sub-temple of the Zen-sect temple of Engaku-ji in Kamakura. A memorial museum was opened in his home town of Shirakawa in 1993.
- 1938 Akutagawa Prize---Atsumonozaki,『厚物咲』
- 1964 Noma Literary Award---Sakuan,『咲庵』
- 1966 Award of the Japan Art Academy---Sakuan,『咲庵』
- Kiyohara, Yasumasa. Nakayama Gishu no shogai. Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha (1993). ISBN 4-404-02024-4 (Japanese)
- Mikame, Tatsuji. Nakayama Gishu no rekishi shosetsu. Shintensha (1993). ISBN 4-7879-6755-X (Japanese)
- Kataoka, Yoshikazu. Introduction to Contemporary Japanese Literature (1958). Introduction to Contemporary Japanese Literature at Google Books
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