The diaries of the late writer Takehiko Fukunaga have just been released to the media for the first time, according to Japanese newspapers. The diaries, which date from the 1940s, are said to give an insight into his delicate way of depicting human pain and suffering.
Not translated into English, and not well known in Europe, there is very little information about Fukunaga on English-language websites. A listing in Japan Encyclopedia, partly available on Googlebooks, says ‘she’ - even though he was a man! - was born in Fukuoka in 1918. He translated some of Jean-Paul Sartre’s works, and wrote a critique of Paul Gauguin for which he won an award.
A little more information is available from a website called DeadMansBrain which says Fukunaga was fond of French poets such as Mallarmé, Rimbaud, and Lautréamont, but was especially influenced by Baudelaire. With Shin’ichiro Nakamura, Shuichi Kato and others, he formed a literary coterie called Matinée Poétique. And while striving to introduce European literary trends, he wrote experimental novels such as Fudo (Climate) and Meifu (The Nether World). He also wrote detective novels under the pen name Reitaro Kada. In 1972 he won the Japan Literature Grand Prize, for Shi no shima (Death Island). He died in 1979.
The Mainichi Daily News has now reported that three of Fukunaga diaries - written between 1945 and 1947 - have been released to the media for the first time. It claims that they shed light on the roots of his style of writing, one that ‘delicately depicts the pain and the suffering of humans’. The diaries were found by a researcher 10 years ago, but their release was opposed by Yamashita Sumi, Fukunaga’s ex-wife (also known as the poet Akiko Harajo). It is several years, however, since Sumi’s death, and their son, Natsuki Ikezawa, also a poet, has decided to make the documents public; and extracts are being published in Shincho literary magazine.
In his journals, The Mainichi Daily News says, Fukunaga writes about his love for his wife and newborn son, expresses enthusiasm for launching a new literary journal in collaboration with Kato, and describes the chaos of postwar Japan. In other parts of the diaries, though, he writes about the difficulties with his wife and his suffering from tuberculosis. According to literary critic Akimasa Kanno, it is these difficulties that must have allowed him to dig deep into the concepts of love, loneliness and death - the central theme of his literature. ‘The diaries are very important materials,’ he added.
The Mainichi Daily News quotes only a couple of very short extracts: ‘It’s already been 50 days since Natsuki was born. His innocent smiles hold me back’; and ‘I fear my disease. I’m worried about Sumiko, and think about the past and the future.’