Yumeno Kyūsaku

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Yumeno Kyūsaku
Yumeno Kyūsaku
Yumeno Kyūsaku
Native name
夢野 久作
BornSugiyama Naoki (杉山 直樹)
(1889-01-04)4 January 1889
Fukuoka, Fukuoka prefecture, Japan
Died11 March 1936(1936-03-11) (aged 47)
Tokyo, Japan
Pen nameKaijaku Ranpei
Kagutsuchi Midori
Kakumi Dontarō
Unsui (雲水)
Hōen (萠円)
OccupationJournalist, detective literature writer
GenreDetective stories, science fiction, horror
Literary movementRomanticism, surrealism
RelativesSugiyama Shigemaru (father)
Sugiyama Tatsumaru (son)
Sugiyama Sanroku (third son)

Yumeno Kyūsaku (夢野 久作, 4 January 1889 – 11 March 1936) was the pen name of Sugiyama Yasumichi (杉山 泰道), an early Shōwa period Japanese author, Zen priest, post office director and sub-lieutenant. The pen name roughly means "a person who always dreams". His Dharma name was Goshin-in Gin'en Taidō-koji (悟真院吟園泰道居士). He wrote detective novels and is known for his avant-gardism and his surrealistic, wildly imaginative and fantastic,[1] even bizarre narratives. His eldest son, Sugiyama Tatsumaru, was known as the Green Father of India for spending billions of yen on reforestation.

Early life[edit]

Yumeno was born in Fukuoka city, Fukuoka prefecture as Sugiyama Naoki. His father, Sugiyama Shigemaru, was a major figure in the pre-war ultranationalist organization, the Genyōsha. After graduating from Shuyukan he attended the Literature Department at Keio University, but dropped out[1] on orders from his father, and returned home to take care of the family farm. In 1926 he decided to become a Buddhist priest, but after a couple of years in the monastery, he returned home again as Sugiyama Yasumichi. By this time, he had developed a strong interest in the traditional Japanese drama form of Noh, with its genre of ghost stories and supernatural events. He found employment as a freelance reporter for the Kyushu Nippō newspaper (which later became the Nishinippon Shimbun), while writing works of fiction on the side.

Literary career[edit]

Kyūsaku's first success was a nursery tale Shiraga Kozō (White Hair Boy, 1922), which was largely ignored by the public. It was not until his first novella, Ayakashi no Tsuzumi (The Spirit Drum, 1924) in the literary magazine Shin-Seinen, that his name became known.

His subsequent works include Binzume jigoku (Hell in the Bottles, 1928), Kori no hate (End of the Ice, 1933), and his most significant novel Dogura Magura (Dogra Magra, 1935), which is considered a precursor of modern Japanese science fiction[2] and was adapted for a 1988 movie directed by Toshio Matsumoto and starring Shijaku Katsura II, Hideo Murota, and Yōji Matsuda.[3]

Dogra Magra exemplifies modern Japanese avant-garde gothic literature. In the story, the protagonist/narrator wakes up in a hospital with amnesia. He finds out that he was the subject of an experiment by a now-dead psychiatrist, and the doctors are working to bring back his memories. It is not clear whether he was a psychotic killer or the victim of a strange psychological experiment, but it is told that he killed his mother and wife and that he inherited his psychotic tendencies from an insane ancestor. The novel is strongly influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis and, through Yumeno's contacts there, provides considerable historical insight into the development of the study of psychoanalysis at Kyushu Imperial University.[2]

Kyūsaku died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1936 while talking with a visitor at home.

Works in translation[edit]

English translation[edit]

Short stories

  • "Love After Death" (original title: Shigo no Koi) (Modanizumu: Modernist Fiction from Japan, 1913-1938, University of Hawaii Press, 2008)
  • "Hell in a Bottle" (original title: Binzume Jigoku) (Three-Dimensional Reading: Stories of Time and Space in Japanese Modernist Fiction, 1911-1932, University of Hawaii Press, 2013)
  • "Hell in Bottles" (original title: Binzume Jigoku) (The Nashville Review, Volume 25, Vanderbilt University, 2018)
  • "Building" (original title: Birudingu) (The Literary Review, Volume 60 No 2: Physics, Farleigh Dickinson University, 2017)


  • "The Spirit Drum" (original title: Ayakashi no Tsuzumi) (Arigatai Books, 2019, translated by J.D. Wisgo)
  • "Kaimu: A Collection of Disturbing Dreams" (original title: Kaimu) (Arigatai Books, 2021, translated by J.D. Wisgo)


French translation[edit]


  • Dogra Magra Philippe Picquier (2003). ISBN 2-87730-645-3

Spanish translation[edit]

Short stories


  1. ^ a b "Kyusaku Yumeno". Authors. JP: JLPP. Archived from the original on December 12, 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-11.
  2. ^ a b Nakamura, Miri (2007). "Horror and machines in prewar Japan". In Bolton, Chris; Csicsery-Ronay jr. Istvan; Tatsumi, Takayuki (eds.). Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams. Japanese Science Fiction from Origins to Anime. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 3–26. ISBN 0-8166-4974-X.
  3. ^ "Dogura magura (1988)". Retrieved 2009-03-11.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]