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Knowing Osamu Dazai

Tracing the roots of Osamu Dazai, the great writer

As a little boy named Shuji, he satisfied his longing for motherly love by playing with Take, his babysitter.

Childhood years

From his birth until entering elementary school

Residence of the Tsushima family (latter-day Shayokan)
Residence of the Tsushima family (latter-day Shayokan)

Shuji Tsushima (later known as Osamu Dazai) was born in a small room (called koma in Japanese) on June 19, 1909, two years after the Tsushima family residence was completed. Due to his mother’s illness, Shuji was left in the care of a wet nurse soon after his birth, but his nurse left the Tsushima family about a year later in order to remarry. Since his mother was often away from home with her politician husband Genemon, Shuji was raised by his aunt Kie, and looked after by a maid named Take Chikamura. Shuji thus spent his days with Take from when he was two years old until he was about six years old, and grew up listening to old tales told by Take during the daytime and by his aunt Kie at night. When Shuji was about five years old, Take often visited the Sunday school held at the family temple of the Tsushima family in order to borrow books for Shuji as instructed by his grandmother, Ishi. Already able to read alone, Shuji read these books all by himself. However, Shuji soon had to bid a sad farewell to Take. The family of aunt Kie established a new home in Goshogawara and took Take with them. Shuji accompanied them to Goshogawara but soon returned to Kanagi in order to enter elementary school. Little Shuji was thus unable to receive unconditional love from either his mother or his beloved babysitter.

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