Sakunosuke Oda (織田 作之助, Oda Sakunosuke, born October 26,
1913 – January 10, 1947) was a Japanese writer. He is often grouped
Osamu Dazai and
Ango Sakaguchi as the Buraiha. Literally
meaning ruffian or hoodlum faction, this label was not a matter of a
stylistic school but one bestowed upon them by conservative critics
disparaging the authors' attitudes and subject matter.
1 Life and Writings
2 Adaptations and Translations
4 External links
5 See also
Life and Writings
Oda’s writing career spans both prewar and postwar Japan. A native
of Osaka, he wrote mostly of life in that city and the customs and
manners of the common people there. In 1939, his story Zokushu
(俗臭, Vulgarity) was a candidate for the Akutagawa Prize. The
following year, Oda published Meoto Zenzai (夫婦善哉). Named after
Osaka sweet shop, it follows the life of a couple whose
relationship survives despite the persistent wastefulness, debauchery,
and unkept promises of the erring man.
Oda's characters usually did not fit into what were traditionally
considered appropriate forms, either in their frank humanness or in
their stubborn individuality, as in Roppakukinsei (六白金星, Six
White Venus, 1946), or out of the cruel necessity of survival. In the
story Sesō (世相, The State of the Times, 1946), Oda describes the
first months of the occupation period following Japan's surrender at
the end of World War II, which were marked by food shortages so severe
that government rations were not enough even to sustain life and
people turned to the black market to procure the food they needed for
their own survival. During Oda's lifetime, several of his works were
Oda also wrote radio drama scenarios and submitted a script to a
magazine that was later made into the film Kaette kita otoko
(還って来た男, The Returnee, 1944), by Kawashima Yūzō (it was
the director's commercial debut).
In addition to his fiction, Oda wrote many critical essays, most
notably "Kanōsei no bungaku" (可能性の文学, "The Literature of
In 1947, after suffering from a lung hemorrhage, Oda died in Tokyo
Hospital. After the funeral, his friend and fellow writer Osamu Dazai
published an emotional eulogy blaming the critics for Oda’s sudden
death. More likely, it was from a recurrent bout of tuberculosis. Oda
is buried in Osaka.
In 1963, a monument was erected by Oda's friends and colleagues near
Hozenji Temple in Osaka. Hozenji Yokochō and its surrounding alleys
are one of the main settings in Meoto Zenzai.
In 1983, under the sponsorship of the
Osaka Bungaku Shinkōkai, a
literary prize was established in Oda's name to commemorate the 70th
anniversary of his birth and with the aim of carrying on the long
Kansai literature. It is awarded annually to an
outstanding work of fiction by a new author.
An autographed photograph of Oda hangs in the
Jiyūken (自由軒). Jiyūken opened as a coffee and snack shop in
1910, and has become known for its style of "curry rice". It is
mentioned in Oda's writings. The inscription says that Oda has died,
but has left us some of the good flavor of curry rice in his writing.
The photograph shows Oda apparently writing while seated at a table in
Adaptations and Translations
Several of Oda's stories have been made into movies, including Deep
Autumn (秋深き, Aki fukaki) (2008) and, most notably, Meoto zenzai,
which has been adapted four times, including an award-winning film,
released in 1955, which was directed by Toyoda Shirō, and starred
Morishige Hisaya and Awashima Chikage.
Meoto zenzai, Roppakukinsei, and Sesō, along with another story, Ki
no miyako (木の都, "City of Trees", 1943–44), have been
translated by Burton Watson and published together as Stories of Osaka
Life (Columbia University Press, 1990; paperback, Weatherhill, 1994).
^ Jiyūken restaurant autographed photo with inscription (in Japanese)
Meoto Zenzai online text (in Japanese)
List of Japanese authors
ISNI: 0000 0000 8125 5304
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