Ōshiro Tatsuhiro 大城立裕
Ōshiro Tatsuhiro (left) with Sminkey Takuma
Ōshiro Tatsuhiro was born in Nakagusuku, Okinawa on September 19, 1925. In 1945, when he was twenty-one years old, he left Toua Doubun University in Shanghai when Japan was defeated in World War II. After working as a high school teacher, he worked as a prefectural official for thirty-nine years. From 1983 to 1986, he was the director of the Okinawa Museum. While working, Ōshiro wrote fiction on the side. In 1967, his novella “Cocktail Party” was awarded the Akutagawa Prize, making him the first Okinawan author to win the prestigious prize. In 1993, he was awarded the Taiko Hirabayashi Literary Prize. In 2000, Ōshiro was chosen for the Okinawan Person of Merit Prize, which recognized his great contribution to Okinawa literature.
1967 Akutagawa Prize
1990 Purple Ribbon Medal
1991 Okinawa Times Prize
1993 21st Taiko Hirabayashi Literary Prize
1995 Person of Cultural Merit Prize
1996 Order of the Rising Sun Prize
1998 Ryūkyū Shinpō Prize
2000 Okinawa Person of Merit Prize
Okinawan Culture and History
Ōshiro’s most important theme is Okinawan culture and history. Ōshiro is extremely knowledgeable of Okinawa’s culture and history, and he quite consciously tries to explain this culture to mainland Japanese readers. For example, in “Kame no ko baka,” he explains about both the Battle of Okinawa and the role of the family grave in Okinawan culture. Many of the family graves in Okinawa are shaped like a turtle’s shell or the shape of the womb. During the war, some families ran to the family tombs for protection. In “Panarinusuma Gensō,” Ōshiro examines some of the obscure rituals that take place on Aragusuku Island. In “Futenma yo,” a more recent story, Ōshiro explains the history of Futenma base, and how this history is the key to understanding the current situation.
In the book Literature Album of Ōshiro Tatsuhiro, various critics comment on Ōshiro’s work. Motohama Hidehiko argues that Ōshiro’s unique realism is revealed in his sensitivity to the Okinawan community and cultural collisions, which often become the focus of his plots. Davinder Bhowmik points out that Ōshiro’s work has focused on Okinawa and the Okinawan people, and that he has tackled a broad range of topics, including Okinawa in the modern era, relations between the Ryūkyū Kingdom and the Satsuma clan, and the complicated relations between Okinawa, China, Japan, and the US. Finally, Ono Takayuki points out that Ōshiro did not forget to turn his eyes to the everyday lives of people who live in Okinawa, while considering the problems from a broad perspective. His work shows how Okinawan people have been able to live their lives without losing hope or their sense of humor, even when the situation has been very difficult.
Ōshiro, Tatsuhiro. “Cocktail party.” Ōshiro Tatsuhiro zenshū. Vol. 9. 89-125.
---. Futenma yo. Tokyo: Shinchosha, 2011.
---. “Kame no ko baka.” Ōshiro Tatsuhiro zenshū. Vol. 9. 47-75.
---. Ōshiro Tatsuhiro zenshū [Complete Works of Ōshiro Tatsuhiro]. Ed. Editing Committee for Ōshiro Tatsuhiro zenshu. 13 vols. Tokyo: Bensei Shuppan, 2002.
---. “Panarinusuma gensō.” Ōshiro Tatsuhiro zenshū. Vol. 9. 159-193.
---. Ryūkyū shobun. Ōshiro Tatsuhiro zenshū. Vol. 1. 3-422.
At the time of the Meiji Restoration, the Ryūkyū Kingdom was controlled by the Satsuma clan (current day Kagoshima), but the Kingdom had a relationship to the Qing in China at the same time. This was a diplomatic problem for the government at that time, so they appointed Michiyuki Matsuda as a disposal officer in order to resolve the problem of the Ryūkyūs. In this lengthy historical novel, Ōshiro describes how the Ryūkyū Kingdom was annexed by Japan and how the changes impacted on the Okinawan people.
Kuroko, Kazuo. “Ōshiro Tatsuhiro Bungaku Arubamu [Literature Album of Ōshiro Tatsuhiro.].” Tokyo: Bensei shuppan, 2004.
This report was done by Chinen Riko, Shiroma Madoka, Taba Ayako, Taira Mizuki, and Toma Yukino. Edited by Sminkey Takuma.