Gender and Age Take the Stage: Dawning Diversity in Japanese Literature

Just a quick preface to this before I really get into this little response to the article I have linked in this post: I figured I would start my postings off with something that is a mix of serious and fun. While this isn’t as serious as I could get, I do find this topic somewhat interesting and important when it comes to social issues facing Japan as a modern country in the 21st century. I will also let you know that I originally posted this little article response on my personal Facebook page but – seeing is that is only seen by my friends – I feel that it is important and interesting enough to post her on Kitsune wa Tsuneni Tadashii.

This is a response to the Japan Times article, “Female writers in Japan are finally being heard” (Alex Barreia) which was posted on September 1, 2019. I would highly recommend that you actually check out the original article.

Now, into my actual post/response!

A Step in the Right Direction, but Only Just a Start

Book smart: Natsuko Imamura (right), winner of the Akutagawa Prize and Masumi Oshima, winner of the Naoki Prize, pictured after the award presentation ceremony in Tokyo. | KYODO (credit to the Japan Times)

This article is incredibly interesting for a number of reasons. As a fan of traditional Japanese literature and modern fiction published within the last several decades, I have found that the increasingly diverse field of voices in the genre (and by this I mean Japanese literature – primarily fiction – as a whole) can primarily be attributed to an increase in female writers and younger authors.


In my idle searching I have looked up the authors of my favorite Japanese novels and there is an obvious trend, as this article points out: not only are there more women writing, but there is more age diversity!

There are younger authors putting their work out there, and the experiences and opinions of these younger authors give new life and voice to their characters/narrators. There are also older authors than ever before. Previously there were a majority of writers in Japanese literature that were both male and middle-aged. This meant that they shared much of their generational perceptions and perspectives and left little room for diversity in the work they produce. That is not to say that their works were inferior, simply characteristic of an era.

The influx of diverse literary voices is characteristic of a completely new era, and this is extremely exciting, especially to those who enjoy Japanese literature. I’m excited to continue to witness the revolution, and I am glad that these great authors are getting just recognition of their talents.

Again, it may be a step in the right direction but it’s only just a start.

I hope that this gave you some food for thought on the topic, and maybe it might bring to mind some similar issues that you are passionate about. If you have any comments about this post, questions, or topics you would like me to post about please feel free to comment on this post!

That’s it for now!

Signing off.

See you later!

Jana!

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