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Mieko Kawakami (川上未映子, Kawakami Mieko, born August 29, 1976) is a Japanese singer, blogger, and writer from Osaka. Her work has won prestigious Japanese literary awards in several genres, including the 138th Akutagawa Prize for her novella Chichi to ran (乳と卵) (Breasts and Eggs),[1] the 2013 Tanizaki Prize for her short story collection Ai no yume to ka (愛の夢とか) (Dreams of Love, etc.),[2] and the 2008 Nakahara Chūya Prize for Contemporary Poetry for Sentan de, sasuwa sasareruwa soraeewa (先端で さすわ さされるわ そらええわ).[3]

Mieko Kawakami
Author Mieko Kawakami seated at a table while speaking into a microphone
Mieko Kawakami in 2014, giving a lecture in Tokyo
Native name
Born (1976-08-29) August 29, 1976 (age 43)
Osaka, Japan
OccupationWriter, Singer, Poet
GenreFiction, poetry, short story
Notable works
  • Ai no yume to ka (愛の夢とか)
  • Hevun (ヘヴン)
  • Chichi to ran (乳と卵)
Notable awards
Mieko Kawakami Official Website


Kawakami worked as a bar hostess and bookstore clerk before embarking on a singing career.[4] Kawakami released three albums and three singles as a singer, but quit her singing career in 2006 to focus on writing.[5]

Before winning the Akutagawa Prize in 2008 for Chichi to ran, Kawakami was known in Japan primarily as a blogger.[4] At its peak, her popular blog received over 200,000 hits per day.[6]

Kawakami's first full-length novel, titled Hevun (Heaven), won the 2010 Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Literature.[7] In 2012 an English translation of her short story "March Yarn" appeared in March was Made of Yarn, a collection of essays and stories about the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[8]

In 2016, she was selected as Granta Best of Young Japanese Novelists 2016 for her short story "Marie's Proof of Love".

From 2015 to 2017, Kawakami conducted a series of interviews with Haruki Murakami, in which she notably asked him about women and sexualization in his novels.[9] The edited volume of these interviews, titled Mimizuku wa Tasogare ni Tobitatsu (Haruki Murakami: A Long, Long Interview) was published in 2017.

Mieko Kawakami's novel, Ms Ice Sandwich, made the shortlist of the 2018 edition of the Grand Prix of Literary Associations.[10]

Writing styleEdit

Kawakami's writing often employs Osaka-ben, a distinctive Japanese dialect spoken in Osaka and surrounding cities. She also incorporates experimental and poetic language into her short stories and novels, citing Lydia Davis and James Joyce as literary influences.[5] Celebrated Japanese author Haruki Murakami called her his favorite young novelist[11] and has described her writing as "ceaselessly growing and evolving."[12]


  • 2007 Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers for Watakushi ritsuin hā, mata wa sekai (My Ego Ratio, My Teeth, and the World)[13]
  • 2008 Nakahara Chūya Prize for Sentan de, sasuwa sasareruwa sora eewa[3]
  • 2008 Akutagawa Prize for Chichi to ran (Breasts and Eggs)[1]
  • 2010 Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Hevun (Heaven)[7]
  • 2013 Tanizaki Prize for Ai no yume to ka (Dreams of Love, etc.)[2]
  • 2016 Watanabe Junichiro Prize for Akogare (Yearning)[14]


Books in JapaneseEdit

  • Watakushi ritsu in ha, mata wa sekai (わたくし率 イン 歯一、または世界, My Ego Ratio, My Teeth, and the World), Kodansha, 2007, ISBN 9784062142137
  • Chichi to ran (乳と卵, Breasts and Eggs), 2008, ISBN 9784163270104
  • Sentan de, sasuwa sasareruwa soraeewa(先端で、さすわ さされるわ そらええわ), Seidosha, 2008, ISBN 9784791763894
  • Hevun (ヘヴンHeaven), Kodansha, 2009, ISBN 9784062157728
  • Subete mayonaka no koibito tachi (すべて真夜中の恋人たち, All the Lovers in the Night), Kodansha, 2011, ISBN 9784062779401
  • Ai no yume to ka (愛の夢とか, Dreams of Love, etc.), Kodansha, 2013, ISBN 9784062177993
  • Akogare (あこがれ, Yearning), Shinchosha, 2015 ISBN 9784103256243
  • Wisteria to sannin no onna tachi (ウィステリアと三人の女たち, "Wisteria and Three Women"), Shinchosha, 2017, ISBN 9784103256250

Selected work in EnglishEdit

  • "From Breasts and Eggs," trans. Louise Heal Kawai, Words Without Borders, 2012[15]
  • "March Yarn," trans. Michael Emmerich, March was Made of Yarn: Reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown, 2012[8]
  • "Where Have All the Sundays Gone?", trans. Hitomi Yoshio, Words Without Borders, 2015[16]
  • "Memories Belong," trans. Hitomi Yoshio, Granta 132, 2015[17]
  • "Strawberry Fields Forever and Ever," trans. Hitomi Yoshio, Pleiades: Literature in Context, 2016[18]
  • "The Flower Garden," trans. Hitomi Yoshio, Freeman's: The Future of New Writing, 2017[19]
  • Ms. Ice Sandwich, trans. Louise Heal Kawai, Pushkin Press, 2018, ISBN 9781782273301[20]


  1. ^ a b Newcomb, Amelia (December 15, 2008). "Mieko Kawakami: From blogger to global novelist". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Tanizaki Jun'ichiro Prize". Books from Japan. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "第14回中原中也賞が川上未映子さんの『先端で さすわ さされるわ そらええわ』に決定しました". Yamaguchi City (in Japanese). June 15, 2017. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Kageyama, Yuri (March 25, 2008). "Writer blogs her way to top literary prize". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Lee, Jian Xuan (November 22, 2015). "J-pop singer turned writer". The Straits Times. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  6. ^ McNeill, David. "Young commuter bloggers snatch Japan's literary laurels". The Independent. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "紫式部文学賞 - 宇治市図書館". 宇治市図書館 (in Japanese). Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Kawakami, Mieko (2012). "March Yarn". In Luke, Elmer; Karashima, David James (eds.). March was Made of Yarn: Reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown. Translated by Emmerich, Michael. Vintage Books. pp. 55–70. ISBN 9780307948861.
  9. ^ Kashiwazaki, Kan (June 16, 2017). "Haruki Murakami talks of how he goes with the flow". Asahi Shimbun. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  10. ^ GPLA 2018 Finals: Maybe the Year of English
  11. ^ Murakami, Haruki (October 4, 2017). "Haruki Murakami on his favorite young novelist". Literary Hub. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  12. ^ Janney, Matthew (January 5, 2018). " "Why Mieko Kawakami is the One Japanese Writer You Should Be Reading". The Culture Trip. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  13. ^ "第一回 早稲田大学坪内逍遙大賞選考委員会". Waseda University (in Japanese). September 25, 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  14. ^ "第1回渡辺淳一文学賞に川上未映子さん". The Nikkei (in Japanese). March 31, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  15. ^ Kawakami, Mieko (August 1, 2012). "From Breasts and Eggs". Words Without Borders. Translated by Heal Kawai, Louise. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  16. ^ Kawakami, Mieko (March 1, 2015). "Where Have All the Sundays Gone?". Words Without Borders. Translated by Yoshio, Hitomi. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  17. ^ Kawakami, Mieko (July 1, 2015). "Memories Belong". Granta. Translated by Yoshio, Hitomi. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  18. ^ Kawakami, Mieko (2016). Translated by Yoshio, Hitomi. "Strawberry Fields Forever and Ever". Pleiades: Literature in Context. 36: 65–67. doi:10.1353/plc.2016.0007.
  19. ^ Kawakami, Mieko (October 10, 2017). "The Flower Garden". In Freeman, John (ed.). Freeman's: The Future of New Writing. Translated by Yoshio, Hitomi. Grove Press.
  20. ^ Maloney, Iain (March 31, 2018). "'Ms Ice Sandwich': Lonely and obsessive, a boy comes of age". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 17, 2018.

External linksEdit