Fumiko Hayashi (author)

Fumiko Hayashi (林芙美子, Hayashi Fumiko, December 31, 1903 – June 28, 1951) was a Japanese writer of novels, short stories and poetry, who has repeatedly been included in the feminist literature canon.[3] Among her best-known works are Diary of a Vagabond, Late Chrysanthemum and Floating Clouds.[1][2][4]

Fumiko Hayashi
Fumiko Hayashi.jpg
Native name
林 芙美子
Born(1903-12-31)December 31, 1903
Moji-ku, Kitakyūshū, Japan[1][2]
DiedJune 28, 1951(1951-06-28) (aged 47)
Tokyo, Japan


Hayashi was born in Moji-ku, Kitakyūshū,[a] Japan,[1][2] and raised in abject poverty.[5] In 1910, her mother Kiku Hayashi divorced her merchant husband Mayaro Miyata (who was not Fumiko's biological father) and married Kisaburo Sawai.[4] The family then worked as itinerant merchants in Kyūshū.[4]

After graduating from high school in 1922, Hayashi moved to Tokyo and lived with several men, supporting herself with a variety of jobs,[5][6] before settling into marriage with painting student Rokubin Tezuka in 1926.[4][7] During this time, she also helped launch the poetry magazine Futari.[4][7] Her autobiographical novel Diary of a Vagabond (Hōrōki), published in 1930, became a bestseller and gained her high popularity.[1][2][4] Many of her subsequent works also showed an autobiographical background,[8] like The Accordion and the Fish Town or Seihin no sho. In the following years, Hayashi travelled to China and Europe.[1][4]

Starting in 1938, Hayashi, who had joined the Pen butai ("Pen Corps"), war correspondents who were in favour of Japan's militarist regime, wrote reports about the Sino-Japanese War.[9] In 1941, she joined a group of women writers, including Ineko Sata, who went to Manchuria in occupied China. In 1942–43, again as part of a larger group of women writers, she travelled to Southeast Asia, where she spent eight months in the Andaman Islands, Singapore, Java and Borneo. In later years, Hayashi faced criticism for collaborating with state-sponsored wartime propaganda, but, unlike Sata, never apologised or rationalised her behaviour.[3][10]

Writer Yoshiko Shibaki observed a shift from poetic sentiment towards harsh reality in Hayashi's post-war work, which depicted the effects of the war on the lives of its survivors, as in the short story Downtown.[3] In 1948, she was awarded the 3rd Women Literary Award for her short story Late Chrysanthemum (Bangiku).[4] Her last novel Meshi, which appeared in serialised form in the Asahi Shimbun, remained unfinished due to her sudden death.[11]

Hayashi died of myocardial infarction on June 28, 1951,[4] survived by her husband and her adopted son.[6] Her funeral was officiated by writer and friend Yasunari Kawabata.[10] Hayashi's house in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, was later turned into a museum, the Hayashi Fumiko Memorial Hall.[2] In Onomichi, where Hayashi had lived in her teen years, a bronze figure was erected in her memory.[12][13][14]

Themes and legacyEdit

Many of Hayashi's stories revolve around free spirited women and troubled relationships. Joan E. Ericson's 1997 translations and analysis of the immensely popular Diary of a Vagabond and Narcissus suggest that Hayashi's appeal is rooted in the clarity with which she conveys the humanity not just of women, but also others on the underside of Japanese society. In addition, Ericson questions the factuality of her autobiographical writings and expresses a critical view of scholars who take these writings by word instead of, as has been done with male writers, seeing a literary imagination at work which transforms the personal experience, not simply mirrors it.[3]

In Japanese Women Writers: Twentieth Century Short Fiction, Noriko Mizuta Lippit and Kyoko Iriye Selden point out that, other than her autobiographical portrayals of women, Hayashi's later stories are "pure fiction finished with artistic mastery".[15] Hayashi herself explained that she took this step to separate herself from the "retching confusion" of Diary of a Vagabond.[3]

Selected worksEdit

Yasunari Kawabata (right) and other attendants at Hayashi's funeral, 1951
  • 1929: I Saw a Pale Horse (Aouma o mitari) – poetry collection. Translated by Janice Brown.
  • 1930: Diary of a Vagabond (Hōrōki) – novel. Translated by Joan E. Ericson.
  • 1931: The Accordion and the Fish Town (Fukin to uo no machi) – short story. Translated by Janice Brown.
  • 1933: Seihin no sho – short story
  • 1934: Nakimushi kozo – novel
  • 1936: Inazuma – novel
  • 1947: Uzushio – novel
  • 1947: Downfall (Rinraku) – short story. Translated by J.D. Wisgo.
  • 1948: Downtown (Daun taun) – short story. Translated by Ivan Morris.
  • 1948: Late Chrysanthemum (Bangiku) – short story. Translated twice by John Bester and Lane Dunlop.
  • 1949: Shirosagi – short story
  • 1949: Narcissus (Suisen) – short story. Translated twice by Kyoko Iriye Selden and Joan E. Ericson.
  • 1950: Chairo no me – novel
  • 1951: Floating Clouds (Ukigumo) – novel. Translated by Lane Dunlop.
  • 1951: Meshi – novel (unfinished)

Adaptations (selected)Edit

Numerous of Hayashi's works have been adapted into film:

Hayashi's biography also served as the basis for theatre plays, notably Kazuo Kikuta's 1961 Hourou-ki, about her early life, and Hisashi Inoue's 2002 Taiko tataite, fue fuite, based on her later years, including her entanglement with the militarist regime.[17]


  1. ^ Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, has also been cited as her birthplace[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e "常設展示室 林 芙美子 (Permanent Exhibition Room: Hayashi Fumiko)". 北九州市立文学館 (Kitakyushu Literature Museum) (in Japanese). Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e "新宿区立林芙美子記念館 (Shinjuku Ward Hayashi Fumiko Memorial)". The Shinjuku Foundation for Creation of Future (in Japanese). Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ericson, Joan E. (1997). Be a Woman: Hayashi Fumiko and Modern Japanese Women's Literature. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 9780824818845.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "林芙美子 (Hayashi Fumiko)". Kotobank (in Japanese). Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  5. ^ a b Lagassé, Paul (January 2000). Fumiko Hayashi. ISBN 9780787650155.
  6. ^ a b Schierbeck, Sachiko (1994). Japanese Women Novelists in the 20th Century: 104 Biographies, 1900-1993. Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen. p. 82.
  7. ^ a b Miller, J. Scott (2021). Historical Dictionary of Modern Japanese Literature and Theater (2 ed.). Honolulu: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 43. ISBN 9781538124413.
  8. ^ Ericson, Joan (2003). "Hayashi Fumiko". In Mostow, Joshua S. (ed.). The Columbia Companion to Modern East Asian Literature. Columbia University Press. pp. 158–163.
  9. ^ Horton, William Bradley (2014). "Tales of a Wartime Vagabond: Hayashi Fumiko and the Travels of Japanese Writers in Early Wartime Southeast Asia". Under Fire: Women and World War II. Hilversum (Netherlands): Verloren Publishers.
  10. ^ a b Pulvers, Roger (24 June 2012). "Fumiko Hayashi: Haunted to the grave by her wartime 'flute and drums'". The Japan Times. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  11. ^ "めし (Meshi)". Kotobank (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  12. ^ "文学周遊 林芙美子 「風琴と魚の町 (Literature tour: Fumiko Hayashi "The Accordion and the Fish Town")". Nikkei.com (in Japanese). Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  13. ^ "旅のふるさとを求めて 芙美子の尾道を歩く (Walking in Fumiko's Onomichi)". Westjr.co.jp/ (in Japanese). 7 July 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  14. ^ Chavez, Amy (1 December 2018). "Submitting to the masters on Onomichi's Path of Literature". The Japan Times. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  15. ^ Mizuta Lippit, Noriko; Iriye Selden, Kyoko, eds. (2015). Japanese Women Writers: Twentieth Century Short Fiction. London and New York: Routledge. p. xviii.
  16. ^ Goble, A., ed. (1999). The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film. Walter de Gruyter. p. 212. ISBN 9783110951943.
  17. ^ Tanaka, Nobuko (14 April 2004). "Lessons still unlearned". The Japan Times. Retrieved 23 September 2021.


  • Late Chrysanthemum. Japan Quarterly. 3–4. Translated by Bester, John. Tokyo: Asahi Shimbun. 1956. pp. 468–486.
  • A Late Chrysanthemum: Twenty-One Stories from the Japanese. Translated by Dunlop, Lane. San Francisco: North Point Press. 1986. pp. 95–112.
  • Downfall and Other Stories. Translated by Wisgo, J.D. Arigatai Books. 2020. ISBN 978-1737318200.

External linksEdit