Sunday Jun 11, 1899 to Sunday Apr 16, 1972
JapanYasunari Kawabata was a Japanese novelist and short story writer whose spare, lyrical, subtly-shaded prose works won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author to receive the award. His works have enjoyed broad international appeal and are still widely read.
Kawabata had a painful love affair with Hatsuyo Ito. Whom he met when he was 20 years old. An unsent love letter to her was found at his former residence in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 2014. According to Kaori Kawabata, Kawabata's son-inlaw, an unpublished entry in the author's diary mentions that Hatsuyo was raped by a monk at the temple she was staying at, which led her to break off their engagement.
Kawamata hoped to pass the exams of First Upper School, which was under the direction of the Tokyo Imperial University. He succeeded in the exam the same year and entered the Humanities Faculty as an English major in July 1920. A young Kawabata, by this time, was enamored by the works of another Asian Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore.
While still a university student, Kawabata re-established the Tokyo University literary magazine Shin-shichō ("New Tide of Thought"), which had been defunct for more than four years. There he published his first short story, "Shokonsai ikkei" ("A View from Yasukuni Festival") in 1921.
In October 1924, Kawabata, Riichi Yokomitsu, and other young writers started a new literary journal Bungei Jidai ("The Artistic Age"). This journal was a reaction to the entrenched old school of Japanese literature, specifically the Japanese movement descended from Naturalism, while it also stood in opposition to the "workers'" or proletarian literature movement of the Socialist/Communist schools.
Kawabata started to achieve recognition for a number of his short stories shortly after he graduated, receiving acclaim for "The Dancing Girl of Izu" in 1926, a story about a melancholy student who, on a walking trip down Izu Peninsula, meets a young dancer, and returns to Tokyo in much-improved spirits.
Kawabata relocated from Asakusa to Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 1934 and, although he initially enjoyed a very active social life among the many other writers and literary people residing in that city during the war years and immediately thereafter, in his later years he became very reclusive.
In a 1934 published work Kawabata wrote: "I feel as though I have never held a woman's hand in a romantic sense... Am I a happy man deserving of pity?”.This does not have to be taken literally, but it does show the type of emotional insecurity that Kawabata felt, especially experiencing two painful love affairs at a young age. One of those painful love episodes was with Hatsuyo Ito.
One of his most famous novels was Snow Country, which started in 1934 and first published in installments from 1935 through 1937. It established Kawabata as one of Japan's foremost authors and became an instant classic, described by Edward G. Seidensticker as "perhaps Kawabata's masterpiece".
After the end of World War II, Kawabata's success continued with novels such as Thousand Cranes (a story of ill-fated love) in 1952, The Sound of the Mountain, serialized between 1949 and 1954, The House of the Sleeping Beauties in 1961, Beauty and Sadness in 1964, and The Old Capital in 1962.
On 16 October 1968, Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first Japanese person to receive such a distinction. In awarding the prize "for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind", the Nobel Committee cited three of his novels, Snow Country, Thousand Cranes, and The Old Capital.