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Knowing Osamu Dazai

Tracing the roots of Osamu Dazai, the great writer

His mother’s death, visiting his home village with his family, and a deepening sense of isolation as a writer.

Life as a writer

Marriage – Wartime evacuation – Death

Osamu Dazai
Osamu Dazai

In 1938, Dazai started his life at the Tenkachaya Inn on Misaka Mountain Pass, to which he was introduced by celebrated writer Masuji Ibuse. Later that same year, Dazai met and married Michiko Ishihara, thereby beginning a new life in Kofu. He produced more literary works after his marriage. The following year he moved to Mitaka, where his first daughter, Sonoko, was born.
Upon hearing that his mother Yuko was suffering from a grave illness in his home village, Dazai decided to visit her alone for the first time after ten years of absence. On this visit, he also met with his grandmother Ishi, his second eldest brother Eiji, and his aunt Kie.
In 1942, his mother’s condition became more serious and on the advice of the Tsushima family, Dazai again visited his home village, this time accompanied by his wife Michiko and daughter Sonoko. Shortly after returning to Tokyo, he was informed of his mother’s critical condition and then went back to his home village. His mother Yuko died at the age of 70, and the following year Dazai once again returned to his village with his family to attend Yuko’s memorial service held on the 35th day after her death.
In 1944, Dazai wrote a novel entitled Tsugaru on the advice of Shokichi Kano of Koyama Bookstore. He traveled through the Tsugaru region in May to collect writing materials and then completed the novel in July. His first son, Masaki, was born that year.
In 1945, Dazai evacuated his family to Kofu, where his wife’s family lived, in order to avoid heavy American air raids. He later relocated to Tsugaru and lived in an annex built next to the home of his parents. He wrote twenty-two literary works at this annex.
His second daughter, Satoko, was born in 1947, two years after the war ended. Shizuko Ota bore him another daughter named Haruko the same year. He acknowledged his paternity for Haruko.
In 1948, Dazai finished the second part of the third chapter of No Longer Human and also wrote Goodbye. In June of the same year, he left his home wearing casual clothes with Tomie Yamazaki and then drowned himself in the Tamagawa Canal. He died at the age of 38.

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