The Koriyama Museum of Literature in Fukushima Prefecture will be hosting a special “Osamu Dazai Exhibition” to celebrate the life and works of Japanese contemporary literary bigwig Osamu Dazai; as well as in respectful remembrance on the 70th year memorial of the author’s death.
Osamu Dazai was one of the most well-known figures in 20th Century contemporary fiction-classics in Japan. Born in the 42nd year of the Meiji Era (1909), Dazai was raised and lived through a tumultuous period (including the two World Wars) when Japan was going through revolutionary changes and rapid-modernisation to catch up with the times and world – after the collapse of the stifling Edo-Tokugawa Shogulate government that had isolated the small island-nation from the rest of the world for the past nearly-300 years. He committed suicide and passed away in the 23rd year of the Showa Era (1948), at the age of 39-years-old, then at the height of his literary career.
Dazai’s works were greatly influenced by 11th Century female poet/authoress Shikibu Mirasaki as well as 19th Century Russian philosopher and novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, also fellow contemporary literature author Ryunosuke Akutagawa; thus giving them an autobiographic style that shows a semi-transparent glimpse into the author’s closely-guarded and somewhat mysterious personal life. While this has intrigued many readers and literature fans in Japan, little of the author or his works were widely known elsewhere since only a fraction of them were translated/available in English or other languages.
Aiming to correct this and to create a more widespread awareness of the late author’s works both amongst younger generations of Japanese as well as worldwide literature fans, the Koriyama Museum of Literature worked hard to put together the “Osamu Dazai Exhibition”. The exhibition will showcase photographs, rare materials and items like Dazai’s memos, original manuscript drafts of his literary works, his favourite stationery, articles of clothing/fashion that that he have liked and favoured in his lifetime, etc.
Taking on a multi-media, pop-cultural approach in attempts and hopes to draw more fans especially from younger generations, the Exhibition also collaborates with popular manga/anime series “Bungou Stray Dogs”, in which one of the characters – the talented but eccentric Osamu Dazai – was based off the actual literary author; not only in name but right down to his weirdly dark fascinations with death by suicide. The fictional and somewhat liberally-fantasy-enhanced series have drawn fans amongst the youths in their late-teens to mid/late twenties and caused the semi-phenomena of the sudden influx of interest in contemporary classic literature amongst young people – which is exactly what the organisers of the “Osamu Dazai Exhibition” are aiming for.
For the exhibition collaboration, Kadokawa Corporation – the major publishing giant behind the distribution of the original “Bungou Stray Dogs” manga and light-novels-turned anime series – will provide special never-released-before illustration and original conceptualised artwork materials for showcase. Special standees and background panels taken from memorable scenes in the original manga and/or anime series will also be displayed.
Needless to say, there will also be sales of special collaboration merchandise! The “Bungou Stray Dogs x Koriyama Museum of Literature” commemorative set (pictured below) consist of an A3-size clear poster featuring the fictional depiction of authors Osamu Dazai and Ryonosuke Akutagawa along with their two character pin-badges. The merchandise set retails at JOY 1,200 and will be exclusively sold during the Exhibition.
“The Osamu Dazai Exhibition” will run from 18 August 2018 to 30 September 2018 at the Koriyama Museum of Literature. Fan who wish to attend the Exhibition are required to pay a general Museum admission fee – JPY 200 for general public; JPY 100 for high-school students and undergraduates. Junior high-school students and seniors above the age of 65-years-old may enter free-of-charge.