Yasunari Kawabata was the first Japanese person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. His style combined elements of classic Japanese prose with modern psychological narrative and exploration of human sexuality. Deeply influenced by the culture of his homeland, his writings capture the vivid and melancholy beauty and spirituality of Japan, while his own experiences and studies contributed to his assay into emotion.
Kawabata was born on June 11, 1899 in Osaka, Japan into a prosperous family; his father was a very distinguished physician. However, he was orphaned at the age of 2, his father dying of tuberculosis. The tragedies continued: his grandmother died when he was seven, his only sister died when he was ten, and his grandfather when he was 14. Kawabata would go on to describe himself as a man "without home or family". It is believed that these early traumas helped shape the background for the sense of loss and loneliness that runs throughout much of his writing.
After the death of his grandfather in 1915, Kawabata moved into a junior high dormitory (comparable to a modern day high school). He graduated from the school in 1917 and got into the Dai-ichi Koto-gakko' (Number One High School) in the same year. He finished high school in 1920 and was accepted to the then Tokyo Imperial University as an English major. At the university, he began to study Japanese literature and the Zen philosophy in depth, admiring the works of poets such as priests Dogen (1200-1253) and Myoe (1173-1232). Their poems had a deeply meditative quality, mostly descriptive of natural scenes such as a winter's moon or the silhouette of a mountain. Kawabata's imagery in later works would mirror these poets with surrealistic techniques.
While attending the university Kawabata re-established the literary magazine, "Shin-shichō", (New Tide of Thought), which had been non-operational for over four years. There he published his first short story, "Shokonsai Ikkei" ("A Scene from a...
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