Eiji Yoshikawa
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Eiji Yoshikawa

Eiji Yoshikawa
Eiji Yoshikawa.jpg
BornHidetsugu Yoshikawa
(1892-08-11)August 11, 1892
Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
DiedSeptember 7, 1962(1962-09-07) (aged 70)
Tokyo, Japan
GenreHistorical drama
SubjectJapan History
Notable worksMiyamoto Musashi
Yasu Akazawa (m. 1923)
Fumiko Ikedo (m. 1937)

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Eiji Yoshikawa ( , Yoshikawa Eiji, August 11, 1892 - September 7, 1962) was a Japanese historical novelist. Among his best-known novels are revisions of older classics. He was mainly influenced by classics such as The Tale of the Heike, Tale of Genji, Water Margin, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms, many of which he retold in his own style. As an example, Yoshikawa took up Taiko's original manuscript in 15 volumes to retell it in a more accessible tone and reduce it to only two volumes. His other books also serve similar purposes and, although most of his novels are not original works, he created a huge amount of work and a renewed interest in the past. He was awarded the Cultural Order of Merit in 1960 (the highest award for a man of letters in Japan), the Order of the Sacred Treasure and the Mainichi Art Award just before his death from cancer in 1962. He is cited as one of the best historical novelists in Japan.


He was born Hidetsugu Yoshikawa (?, Yoshikawa Hidetsugu) in Kanagawa Prefecture, in what is now a part of Yokohama. Because of his father's failed business, he had to drop out of primary school to work when he was 11 years old. When he was 18, after a near-fatal accident working at the Yokohama docks, he moved to Tokyo and became an apprentice in a gold lacquer workshop. Around this time he became interested in comic haiku. He joined a poetry society and started writing comic haiku under the pseudonym "Kijiro".

In 1914, with The Tale of Enoshima, he won first prize in a novel-writing contest sponsored by the publisher Kodansha. He joined the newspaper Maiyu Shimbun in 1921, and in the following year he began publishing serializations, starting with Life of Shinran.

He married Yasu Akazawa in 1923, the year of the Great Kant? earthquake. His experiences in the earthquake strengthened his resolve to make writing his career. In the following years he published stories in various periodicals published by Kodansha, who recognized him as their number one author.[] He used 19 pen names before settling on Eiji Yoshikawa.[] He first used this pen name with the serialization of Sword Trouble, Woman Trouble. His name became a household word after Secret Record of Naruto was serialized in the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun; from then on his writing became much more popular.

In the early 1930s, his writing became introspective, reflecting growing troubles in his personal life. But in 1935, with the serialization of Musashi, about famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, in the Asahi Shimbun, his writing settled firmly into the genre of historical adventure fiction.

Upon the outbreak of war with China in 1937 the Asahi Shimbun sent him into the field as a special correspondent. At this time he divorced Yasu Akazawa and married Fumiko Ikedo. During the war he continued writing novels, and became more influenced by Chinese culture. Among the works of this period are Taiko and his re-telling of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

At the end of the war he stopped writing for a while and settled down to enjoy a quiet retirement in Yoshino (present-day Oumeshi) on the outskirts of Tokyo, but by 1947 he had started writing again. His post-war works include New Tale of the Heike, published in the Asahi Weekly (1950), and A Private Record of the Pacific War (1958).

On September 7, 1962, he died from cancer-related complications.

English translations

Four of his books have been translated into English. They are:

Miyamoto Musashi, translated as Musashi

Translated by Charles S. Terry

(1981) Musashi. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-859851-0 (cloth)
(1989) Musashi Book I: The Way of the Samurai. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-73483-0 (paper)
(1989) Musashi Book II: The Art of War. New York: Pocket Books ISBN 978-0671677206 (paper)
(1989) Musashi Book III: The Way of the Sword. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-67721-7 (paper)
(1989) Musashi Book IV: The Bushido Code. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-72991-8 (paper)
(1989) Musashi Book V: The Way of Life and Death. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-67723-3 (paper)
(1995) Musashi. Tokyo: Kodansha International. ISBN 978-4-7700-1957-8 (cloth)

Taiko ki, translated as Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan

Translated by William Scott Wilson

(1992) Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-7700-1570-9 (cloth)
(2000) Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-7700-2609-5 (cloth)

Shin Heike monogatari, translated as The Heike Story: A Modern Translation of the Classic Tale of Love and War

Translated by Fuki Wooyenaka Uramatsu

(1956) The Heike Story: A Modern Translation of the Classic Tale of Love and War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ASIN B0007BR0W8 (cloth)
(1981) The Heike Story: A Modern Translation of the Classic Tale of Love and War. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8048-1376-1 (paper)
(2002) The Heike Story: A Modern Translation of the Classic Tale of Love and War. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8048-3318-9 (paper)

Wasurenokori no ki, translated as Fragments of a Past: A Memoir

Translated by Edwin McClellan

Works in print in Japanese

The Japanese publisher Kodansha currently publishes an 80-volume series: Yoshikawa Eiji Rekishi Jidai Bunko (?), or Eiji Yoshikawa's Historical Fiction in Paperback. Kodansha numbers the series from 1 to 80.

  • 1 -- ? (Kennan Jonan) - Sword Trouble, Woman Trouble
  • 2-4 (in three volumes) - ? (Naruto Hitcho) - Secret Record of Naruto
  • 5-7 (in three volumes) - (Edo Sangoku-shi) - The Three Kingdoms of Edo
  • 8 - (Kankan Mushi wa Utau) - "Kan-kan the insect sings" and other stories
  • 9 - (Rougoku no Hanayome) - The Jail Bride
  • 10 - ? (Matsu no Rohachi) - Rohachi of the Pines
  • 11-13 (in three volumes) - (Shinran)
  • 14-21 (in eight volumes) - ? (Miyamoto Musashi)
  • 22-32 (in eleven volumes) - (Shinsho Taiko ki) - paperback Life of the Taiko
  • 33-40 (in eight volumes) - (Sangoku shi) - Romance of the Three Kingdoms
  • 41-42 (in two volumes) - (Minamoto no Yoritomo)
  • 43 - ? (Uesugi Kenshin)
  • 44 - ? (Kuroda Josui)
  • 45 - ? (Ooka Echizen)
  • 46 - ? (Taira no Masakado)
  • 47-62 (in sixteen volumes) - (Shin Heike monogatari) - New Tale of the Heike
  • 63-70 (in eight volumes) - (Shihon Taihei ki) - Private Record of the Pacific War
  • 71-74 (in four volumes) - ? (Shin Suikoden) - New Tales from the Water Margin
  • 75 - (Jirokichi Goshi) - "Jirokichi Goshi" and other stories
  • 76 - (Yagyu Tsukikage sho) - "The Papers of Yagyu Tsukikage" and other stories
  • 77 - (Wasurenokori no ki) - Record of Things Left Unforgotten
  • 78-80 (in three volumes) - (Shinshu Tenma Kyo)


  • Yoshikawa Eiji (2006). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 4, 2006.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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