Medoruma Shun was born in Nakijin, Okinawa on October 6, 1960. After graduating from the University of Ryukyus, he worked as a guard and later as a teacher. He resigned from teaching in 2003. He has written unique novels that are based on Okinawan nature, history, and climate, focusing especially on the Battle of Okinawa and memories of that war experience. Two of his best stories, “Suiteki” and “Mabuigumi” are concerned with war memory. Medoruma also focuses on the current base issue and how the US military impacts on Okinawa. Another element of Medoruma’s fiction is his use of uchina-guchi or Okinawan language. Medoruma often expresses his strong anti-base political views through his articles in the local newspapers—and in his blog.
Medoruma’s Blog (Japanese)
You can read Medoruma’s blog here:
11th Ryūkyū Shinpō Short Story Prize in 1983 for “Gyogunki [Diary of a School of Fish].”
12th New Okinawa Literature Prize in 1986 for “Heiwa dōri to nazukerareta machi o aruite.”
27th Kyūshū Arts Literature Prize in 1997 for “Suiteki.”
117th Akutagawa Prize in 1997 for “Suiteki.”
26th Yasunari Kawabata Literary Award in 2000 for “Mabuigumi [Soul-Stuffing].”
Shohei Kiyama Literary Award in 2000 for “Mabuigumi [Soul-Stuffing].”
As the child of war survivors, Medoruma is extremely concerned with how the memory of the Battle of Okinawa will be passed down to future generations. He is critical of standard textbook accounts that tend to sanitize the war, and often addresses taboo topics, such as rape, violence, betrayal, and hypocrisy.
Political Problems in Okinawa after the War
Medoruma’s stories often address various problems and incidents that have occurred in Okinawa after the war. For example, one story deals with the Emperor’s visit to Okinawa, and another story deals with the comfort women issue. Some of his stories refer to rapes by US soldiers of Okinawan women, while others consider the impact of the US military bases on the Okinawa economy and on the behavior of people living here. What’s more, Medoruma often addresses these issues in ways that are likely to shock and surprise readers.
The members of the 117th Akutagawa Prize Committee commented on Medoruma’s Suiteki [Droplets]. Ikezawa Natsuki stated that Suiteki [Droplets] skillfully depicts the aftereffects of the war while borrowing the form of the folktale. On other hand, Ishihara Shintaro said that the allegorical style of the writing spoiled the otherwise effective story. Similarly, Maruyama Saiichi praised Medoruma’s creative ideas for the story, but argued that he needed more training in organizing and constructing his stories.
Okinawan War Memory: Transgenerational Trauma and the War Fiction of Medoruma Shun
by Kyle Ikeda
Routledge Press, 2013
This scholarly work is a comprehensive and thoroughly researched analysis of Medoruma Shun’s fiction. A must-read for students and scholars interested in Medoruma’s work.
Medoruma, Shun. Fūon [The Crying Wind]. Tokyo: Little More, 2004.
---. Guncho no ki [The Tree of Butterflies]. Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 2001.
---. Heiwa dōri to nazukerareta machi o aruite [Walking in the town called Heiwa Street]. Tokyo: Kageshobo, 2003.
---. Mabuigumi [Soul-Stuffing]. Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1999.
---. Me no oku no mori [The Forest at the Back of the Eyes]. Tokyo: Kageshobo, 2009.
---. Niji no tori [Rainbow Bird]. Tokyo: Kageshobo, 2006.
---. Suiteki [Droplets]. Tokyo: Bungeishunzyu, 1997.
---. Okinawa: Chi o yomu, toki o miru. Yokohama: Seori Shobo, 2006.
---. Okinawa “Sengo” zero nen. Tokyo: NHK Publishing, 2005
This report was done by Chinen Misuzu, Shimabukuro Misaki, Shimabukuro Takayuki, Shiromu Haruka, and Toyama Kazuma Edited by Sminkey Takuma