Jakucho Setouchi

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Jakucho Setouchi
Setouchi in 2012
Setouchi in 2012
Born(1922-05-15)15 May 1922
Tokushima, Japan
Died9 November 2021(2021-11-09) (aged 99)
Kyoto, Japan
OccupationWriter
GenreNovels
Notable worksKashin, Natsu no Owari, Hana ni Toe, The Tale of Genji

Jakucho Setouchi (瀬戸内 寂聴, Setouchi Jakuchō, 15 May 1922 – 9 November 2021), formerly Harumi Setouchi (瀬戸内 晴美, Setouchi Harumi),[1] was a Japanese Buddhist nun, writer, and activist. Setouchi wrote a best-selling translation of The Tale of Genji and over 400 fictional biographical and historical novels.[2][3] In 1997, she was honored as a Person of Cultural Merit, and in 2006, she was awarded the Order of Culture of Japan.

Biography[edit]

Setouchi was born Harumi Mitani on 15 May 1922 in Tokushima, Tokushima Prefecture to Toyokichi and Koharu Mitani.[3] Toyokichi was a cabinetmaker who made Buddhist and Shinto religious objects.[2] In 1929, her family began using the surname Setouchi after her father was adopted by a family member.[3][2]

Setouchi studied Japanese literature at Tokyo Woman's Christian University before her arranged marriage to scholar Yasushi Sakai in 1943.[3][2] She moved with her husband after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent him to Beijing, and gave birth to their daughter in 1944.[3] In 1945, her mother was killed in an air raid[3] and a grandmother was also killed during the war.[2] She returned to Japan in 1946, settled with family in Tokyo in 1947, and in 1948 left her husband and daughter for a relationship with another man.[3][4]

In 1950, she divorced her husband and serialized her first novel in a magazine.[3] She continued to have sexual relationships, including affairs with married men, and some of her novels were semi-autobiographical.[4][3] In 1957, she won her first literary award for her novel "Qu Ailing, the Female College Student".[3][5] She then published Kashin ("Center of a Flower"),[5] which was criticized for the sexual content, and to which she responded, "The critics who say such things all must be impotent and their wives frigid."[3] Publishing her work was difficult for several years afterwards, and critics called her a "womb writer".[4][5]

She began to shift her novel writing focus to historical female writers and activists,[5] eventually including Kanoko Okamoto, Toshiko Tamura, Sugako Kanno, Fumiko Kaneko,[4] and Itō Noe.[6] In 1963, she was awarded The Women's Literature Prize (Joryu Bungaku Sho)[5] for her 1962 book Natsu no Owari ("The End of Summer"),[7] which became a best-seller.[4][3] In 1968, she published the essay Ai no Rinri ("The Ethics of Love").[4]

In 1973, Setouchi began training to become a Buddhist nun[3] within the Tendai school of Buddhism,[8] and received her name Jakuchō,[3] which means "silent, lonely listening."[8] From 1987 to 2005, she was the chief priestess at the Tendaiji temple in Iwate Prefecture.[9] Setouchi was a pacifist and became an activist, including by participating in protests of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq[2] as well as anti-nuclear rallies in Fukushima after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami,[10][3] including an anti-nuclear hunger strike in 2012.[11] She also opposed capital punishment.[4][8]

She received the Tanizaki Prize for her novel Hana ni Toe ("Ask the Flowers") in 1992,[9] and was named a Person of Cultural Merit in 1997.[5] Her translation of The Tale of Genji from Classical Japanese took six years to complete and was published in ten volumes in 1998.[12][10] She considered Prince Genji to be a plot device for the stories of the women of the court, and used a contemporary version of Japanese for her translation.[12] The novel sold more than 2.1 million volumes by mid-1999.[12] After the book was published, she gave lectures and participated in discussion groups organized by her publisher for more than a year.[13][14]

She received the Japanese Order of Culture in 2006.[5] She also wrote under the pen name "Purple", and in 2008 revealed she had written a cell phone novel titled Tomorrow's Rainbow.[15][10][4] In 2016, she helped found the nonprofit Little Women Project, to support young women experiencing abuse, exploitation, drug addiction, or poverty.[4][3] In 2017, she published her novel Inochi ("Life"), and then continued to publish her writing in literary magazines.[11][10]

At the time of her death, her home temple was in the Kyoto Sagano area.[11] Setouchi died of heart failure in Kyoto, Japan, on 9 November 2021, at the age of 99.[3]

Works[edit]

  • Joshidaisei Chui Airin ("Qu Ailing, the Female College Student") (1957)
  • Natsu no owari ("The End of Summer") (1962), translated by Janine Beichman ISBN 978-4-77001-746-8
  • Kashin ("Center of a Flower") (1963) OCLC 51236673
  • Miren ("Lingering Affections") (1963)
  • Kiji ("Pheasant") (1963) translated by Robert Huey in ISBN 978-4-77002-976-8
  • Hana ni toe ("Ask the Flowers") (1992)
  • Beauty in Disarray (1993), translated by Sanford Goldstein and Kazuji Ninomiya[6] ISBN 978-0-80483-322-6
  • The Tale of Genji (1998)
  • Basho ("Places") (2001)

Honors and awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mulhern, Chieko Irie (1994). Japanese Women Writers: A Bio-critical Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 345. ISBN 9780313254864.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Harrison (29 November 2021). "Jakucho Setouchi, Buddhist nun and best-selling Japanese author, dies at 99". The Washington Post. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Rich, Motoko; Inoue, Makiko (26 November 2021). "Jakucho Setouchi, 99, Dies; Buddhist Priest Wrote of Sex and Love". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Osaki, Tomohiro (14 November 2021). "Jakucho Setouchi: A freewheeling nun who bucked conventional norms for women". The Japan Times. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "(Update) Japanese Writer Jakucho Setouchi Dies at 99". Jiji Press English News Service. 11 November 2021. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b Lowitz, Leza (Summer 1995). "Reviewed Work: Beauty in Disarray by Harumi Setouchi, Sanford Goldstein, Kazuji Ninomiya". Mānoa. University of Hawai'i Press. 7 (1): 270–271. JSTOR 4229210. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  7. ^ Ryan, Marleigh Grayer (Autumn 1990). "Reviewed Work: The End of Summer by Harumi Setouchi, Janine Beichman". World Literature Today. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma. 64 (4): 702. doi:10.2307/40147084. JSTOR 40147084. Retrieved 27 November 2021. Unable to fulfill the prescribed function of mother, the protaganist replaces child with lover. [...] [the novella and short story] are set against the failure of the vision of the Japanese empire.
  8. ^ a b c Harding, Christopher (19 November 2012). "Couched in kindness". Aeon. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  9. ^ a b Commire, Anne; Klezmer, Deborah, eds. (2007). "Setouchi, Jakucho (1922–)". Dictionary of Women Worldwide: 25,000 Women Through the Ages (Vol. 2. ). Gale. p. 1700. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d Yamaguchi, Mari (11 November 2021). "Japan's outspoken nun and author Jakucho Setouchi dies at 99". ABC News. Associated Press. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  11. ^ a b c "Japanese novelist, Buddhist nun Jakucho Setouchi dies at 99". The Mainichi. 11 November 2021. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  12. ^ a b c Kristof, Nicholas D. (28 May 1999). "The Nun's Best Seller: 1,000-Year-Old Love Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  13. ^ "Playboy of the eastern world; "The Tale of Genji"". The Economist. 20 December 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  14. ^ Shoji, Kaori (23 January 1999). "Setouchi Jakucho Takes Japan Back 1,000 Years". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  15. ^ "The text big thing". The Independent. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  16. ^ "Harumi Setouchi". Premio Nonino. Retrieved 28 November 2021.

External links[edit]