Profile of Yasunari Kawabata

 Yasunari Kawabata, familiar to millions in Japan and around the world for his works including Izu no Odoriko(The Izu Dancer), Yukiguni(Snow Country) and Yama no Oto(The Sound of the Mountain), became the first Japanese to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968. His in-depth descriptions of Japan's aesthetic tradition, with its sense of beauty and sadness rooted in the sensibility of the Japanese, were recognized as “expressing the essence of the Japanese mind.”

 Kawabata, who was born in Osaka City in 1899, lost both his parents before he was three years old. He was brought up by his paternal grandparents who lived in Ibaraki, a northeastern suburb of Osaka City. By the time he was 15, however, he was a complete orphan after his grandparents died.

 When he graduated from Ibaraki Middle School, a five-year secondary school, Kawabata left for Tokyo with a determination to pursue a literary career. He assuaged a nagging sense of loneliness by devoting himself to writing and aspiring for beauty, but the successive deaths of his relatives early in his life cast a lingering shadow over his literature.

 In addition to his energetic activities as a novelist, Kawabata wrote extensively as a literary critic and discovered a number of promising young writers.

 Kawabata served as president of the Japan P.E.N. Club and vice president of the International PEN, making significant contributions to the cultural exchanges between the East and West. He was also credited with helping launch the Museum of Modern Japanese Literature, which opened in Tokyo in 1967.

Brief Sketch of Kawabata's Life

1899

Born on June 14 in Kita-ku, Osaka City, as the first son of Eikichi Kawabata, practicing physician, and his wife, Gen.

1901

Father dies of tuberculosis.

1902

Mother dies of tuberculosis. Moves to Ibaraki to be raised by grandparents.

1906

Enters Toyokawa Elementary School. Grandmother dies, leaving him alone with grandfather.

1912

Enters Osaka Prefectural Ibaraki Middle School.

1914

Grandfather dies, making him a complete orphan.

1915

Begins to live in the school dormitory.

1917

Graduates from Ibaraki Middle School and enters the First High School in Tokyo.

1918

Tours the Izu Peninsula and becomes acquainted with an itinerant theatrical troupe.

1920

Enrolls in the Department of English Literature at Tokyo Imperial University.

1924

Graduates from Tokyo Imperial University.
Publishes many short novels and attracts widespread attention as a promising writer.

1925

Publishes Diary of a Sixteen-Year Old.

1926

Publishes The Izu Dancer. Marries Hideko Matsubayashi.

1935

Publishes Snow Country. Moves to Kamakura.

1942

Publishes The Master of Go.

1948

Becomes fourth president of the Japan P.E.N. Club.

1949

Publishes The Sound of the Mountain and Thousand Cranes.

1957

Chairs the International PEN Congress held in Tokyo and Kyoto.

1960

Publishes House of the Sleeping Beauties.

1961

Publishes The Old Capital. Receives the Order of Culture.

1968

Receives the Nobel Prize in Literature. Recommended as Honorary Citizen of Ibaraki.

1969

Attends the unveiling ceremony for his literary monument at Ibaraki Senior High School and receives Honorary Citizenship at City Hall.

1972

Ends his own life on April 16 at age 72.

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