Motojirō Kajii: Wikis


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Motojirō Kajii

Motojirō Kajii Kyodo News)
Born February 17, 1901(1901-02-17)
Osaka, Japan
Died March 24, 1932 (aged 31)
Osaka, Japan
Occupation Writer
Nationality Japanese
Writing period 1925 - 1932
Genres Short story, Prose poetry
Literary movement (I-Novel[1])
In this Japanese name, the family name is Kajii.

Motojirō Kajii (梶井 基次郎 Kajii Motojirō ?, sometimes written Motojirou Kajii, February 17, 1901 - March 24, 1932) was a Japanese author of the early Shōwa period. He left masterpieces of poetic short stories such as "The Lemon", "Winter Days", and "Under the Cherry Trees". An obscure writer all his short life, his stories were praised by Kawabata in several articles, and today his works are appreciated for their finely-tuned self-observation and descriptive power.

As short his lifetime and body of work were, Kajii left a modest footprint on Japan's culture. His story "Lemon" being a staple of textbooks,[4] many a high schooler emulated its protagonist's act of leaving a lemon in a department store[4][5]. And his opening sentence " Dead bodies are buried under the cherry trees! " (桜の樹の下には屍体が埋まっている! Sakura no ki no shita ni wa shitai ga umatte iru! ?) is often quoted by Japanese people[6] about the cherry-blossoms-watching custom of hanami.




(1901-1924) Early life and education

Motojirō Kajii was born in Osaka in 1901. He attended grade school in Tokyo from 1909-1911, middle school in Toba from 1911-1914, and high school in Osaka from 1914-1919. In September 1919, Kajii entered Kyoto's famous Third Higher School (Kyoto-Sanko, a junior college); while a student there, he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis in 1920.

(1924-1928) Launching his literary career

In 1924, Kajii entered the Tokyo Imperial University (where he majored in English literature); there, he helped his old high school friends found a literary coterie magazine, Aozora (青空; "Blue Skies").

In 1925, he published the short story "The Lemon" in Aozora.

From 1927 to 1928, Kajii spent several times in Yugashima on the Izu Peninsula for his health. At this time, he visited the famous writer Yasunari Kawabata and they became friends, playing go together[7] several times a week.

After Aozora stopped publishing in 1927, he wrote in Bungei Toshi (文芸都市; "The Literary City"), another literary coterie magazine.

(1928-1932) Late career and death

In September 1928, Kajii returned to Osaka and rested at home.

In 1931, his friends the famous poet Tatsuji Miyoshi and Ryūzō Yodono, sensing his death near, decided to publish his first book Lemon (檸檬 Remon ?), a collection of his short stories.

In 1932, he wrote his first novella "The Carefree Patient" (のんきな患者 Nonki na kanja ?) for Chūōkōron (中央公論), his first appearance in the commercial magazine, who had commissioned it.

But in March 24, 1932, tuberculosis took his life at age 31.



Stories in magazines
  1. "The Lemon" (檸檬 Remon ?) - January 1925
  2. "In a Castle Town" (城のある町にて Shiro no aru machi nite ?)
  3. "Mire" (泥濘 Deinei ?) - 1925
  4. "On the Road" (路上 Rojō ?)
  5. "The Past" (過古 Kako ?)
  6. "After a Snowfall" (雪後 Setsugo ?)
  7. "An Inner Landscape" (ある心の風景 Aru kokoro no fūkei ?)
  8. "The Ascension of K, or K's Drowning" (Kの昇天 - 或はKの溺死 K no shōten, aruiwa K no dekishi ?) - October 1926
  9. "Winter Days" (冬の日 Fuyu no hi ?) - April 1927
  10. "Under the Cherry Trees" (櫻の樹の下には Sakura no ki no shita ni wa ?) - December 1927
  11. "Instrumental Hallucinations" (器樂的幻覺 Kigakuteki-genkaku ?) - December 1927
  12. "Azure" (蒼穹 Sōkyū ?)
  13. "Story of the Bamboo Water Pipe" (筧の話 Kakei no hanashi ?) - December 1927
  14. "Winter Flies" / "A Fly in Winter" (冬の蠅 Fuyu no hae ?) - 1928
  15. "The Feeling on the Bluff" (ある崖上の感情 Aru gake-ue no kanjō ?) - July 1928
  16. "Caress" (愛撫 Aibu ?) - June 1930
  17. "Scroll of Darkness" (闇の繪巻 Yami no emaki ?) - 1930
  18. "Mating" (交尾 Kōbi ?) - January 1931
  19. "The Carefree Patient" (のんきな患者 Nonki na kanja ?) - 1932, novella

(Not listed are unpublished or unfinished stories, printed later in Complete Works.)

  • Lemon (檸檬 Remon ?) - May 1931, collection (stories #1-18)
    -- posthumously --
  • Kajii Motojirō Complete Works, Vol. 1 (梶井基次郎全集. 第1卷 Kajii Motojirō zenshū. Dai 1-kan ?) - 1947 (ed. Takao Nakatani) Kyoto: Kōtō Shoin
  • Kajii Motojirō Complete Works, Vol. 2 (梶井基次郎全集. 第2卷 Kajii Motojirō zenshū. Dai 2-kan ?) - 1948 (ed. Takao Nakatani) Kyoto: Kōtō Shoin
  • "Letters of a Young Poet" (若き詩人の手紙 Wakaki shijin no tegami ?) - 1955, selected correspondence (ed. Takao Nakatani)
  • Kajii Motojirō Complete Works, Vol. 3 (梶井基次郎全集. 第3卷 Kajii Motojirō zenshū. Dai 3-kan ?) - 1959 (ed. Takao Nakatani) Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō
  • Kajii Motojirō Complete Works, Vol. 4 (梶井基次郎全集. 第4卷 Kajii Motojirō zenshū. Dai 4-kan ?) - 2000 (ed. Sadami Suzuki) Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō


English translations as of 2007

No dedicated book, but some short stories scattered:

  • In scholar papers, such as:
    • Kajii Motojiro: an anthology of short stories translated into English (1977)
    • Three stories of Kajii Motojiro: a study and translation (1978)
    • The Private World of Kajii Motojiro (1982)
    • The Translator as Reader and Writer: English versions of Japanese short fiction by Kajii Motojiro (1982)
  • In magazines, such as:
    • "Translating Kajii Motojiro - includes translation of two stories 'The Ascension/drowning of K' and 'The lemon'" in The Literary Review (1996)
  • In anthologies, such as:
    • "Mating" in The Shōwa Anthology (1984)
    • "Lemon" in The Oxford book of Japanese short stories (1997)
    • "Mire" in Tokyo stories: a literary stroll (2002)
    • "Lemon" in The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, Vol. 1 (2005)
  • In web pages, amateur translations on Internet (see external links below).
Non-English translations as of 2007
  • French: Le citron (1987, 1996) - partial translation of Remon (stories #1,8,9,10,11,13,16,18)
  • Russian: Limon (2004) - full translation of Remon (stories #1-18)


  • " Dead bodies are buried under the cherry trees! You have to believe it. Otherwise, you couldn't possibly explain the beauty of the cherry blossoms. I was restless, lately, because I couldn't believe in this beauty. But I have now finally understood: dead bodies are buried under the cherry trees! You have to believe it. "
    – Motojirō Kajii, opening of "Under the Cherry Trees" (a popular[6] Japanese quote, especially the first sentence)


Sources consulted
  • KAJII, Motojiro (stories); KODAMA DE LARROCHE, Christine (translation, introduction). 1996. Le citron : nouvelles (second partial French translation of Remon). Picquier poche. Arles, France: P. Picquier. ISBN 978-2-87730-277-7: pp. 7-22 (short biography). [First printed as: KAJII, Motojiro (stories); KODAMA DE LARROCHE, Christine (translation, introduction). 1987. Les cercles d'un regard : le monde de Kajii Motojirô (first partial French translation of Remon). Bibliothèque de l'Institut des hautes études japonaises. Paris, France: Maisonneuve et Larose. ISBN 978-2-70680-932-3.]
  • MATSUOKA, Tatsuya. 2005. "An Encounter with Kajii Motojiro" (English version of his Japanese notice). JLLP (Japanese Literature Publishing Project). Tokyo, Japan: Japanese Literature Publishing and Promotion Center (Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan). Internet page (snapshot at WebCite).
  1. ^ I-Novel wasn't an active literary movement per se but an emerging new genre in Japan, informally grouping the first authors who decided to use it.
  2. ^ Stephen DODD, "Dark pleasures: Baudelaire in the work of KAJII Motojirō", 2005
  3. ^ Beatrice MARECHAL, "The Influential Manga of Yoshiharu Tsuge", 2005, The Comics Journal 2005 Special Edition
  4. ^ a b " I read an article about Maruzen closing its business in yesterday's Asahi Journal Evening Edition. It claims that many people are leaving lemons in the department store, just like the main character in Motojiro Kajii's short story titled LEMON. Coincidentally, I learned that many people are buying LEMON from the bookstore inside Maruzen. LEMON is featured in school textbooks; there aren't many Japanese who don't know the story. I am fond of the story myself. I learned the name Maruzen for the first time through LEMON. To be perfectly honest... I left a lemon in Maruzen when I was a high school student. My friend did the same. It must have been a nuisance for the people who worked there. " – Hideo Kojima (creator of the Metal Gear Solid video games for Konami), in the Sunday, 2 October 2005 entry of his English blog ( copy)
  5. ^ " On October 10th Maruzen will close their Kyoto shop which is associated with this novel Lemon. After they announced their closure, store staff found lemons on the books. They had lemons before a few times in a year, but this year they have found 11 lemons already. " – Mari Kanazawa (notable Tokyo blogger), in the Monday, October 03, 2005 entry "A lemon on books" of her English blog "Watashi to Tokyo - Me and Tokyo"
  6. ^ a b "Why is the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) cherished?"
  7. ^ (op. cit.) Kajii & Kodama de Larroche, Le citron, p. 13

See also

External links

Amateur translations (original texts are public domain)

Simple English

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