Toshio Shimao

Toshio Shimao (April 18, 1917–November 12, 1986) was a Japanese novelist.


Shimao was born in Yokohama, graduated from Kyushu University, and in 1944 was sent to Japan's southern Amami Islands as an officer for a naval suicide attack (kamikaze) squadron in World War II. The war ended while he was still waiting for his orders. His wartime experiences inspired his earliest works, including Shima no hate (1946) and Shutsukotō-ki (A Tale of Leaving a Lonely Island, 1949), as well as several later works including Shuppatsu wa tsui ni otozurezu (1962) and Gyoraitei gakusei (Student on the Torpedo Boat, 1985).

A second major theme in his work is that of madness in women, with notable examples in Ware fukaki fuchi yori (1954) and Shi no toge (The Sting of Death, 1960). This theme was related to his wife's mental illness, whom he met and married on the southern islands. In 1955 he took her back to Amami Ōshima, the largest of the Amami Islands; his novella The Sting of Death describes this period using the his own name and that of his wife.

Major prizes

  • 1950 Postwar Literature Prize for Shutsukotō-ki (A Tale of Leaving a Lonely Island)
  • 1960 Minister of Education Award for Art for novella Shi no toge (The Sting of Death)
  • 1972 Mainichi Publishing Culture Award for Garasu shoji no shiruetto (Silhouette through Frosted Glass)
  • 1977 Yomiuri Literary Prize for collection The Sting of Death
  • 1977 Tanizaki Prize for Hi no utsuroi (日の移ろい)
  • 1985 Noma Literary Prize for Gyoraitei gakusei (Student on the Torpedo Boat)

English translations and studies

  • The Sting of Death and Other Stories, trans. Kathryn Sparling, Michigan Papers in Japanese Studies, University of Michigan Press, 1985. ISBN 0-939512-18-1
  • J. Philip Gabriel, Mad Wives and Island Dreams: Shimao Toshio and the Margins of Japanese Literature, University of Hawaii Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8248-2089-4

Selected works

  • Amami Kyōdo Kenkyukai ho (奄美鄉土硏究会報), Nase-shi : Amami Kyōdo Kenkyūkai, began in 1959.
  • Tōhoku to Amami no mukashibanashi, 1973.
  • Yaponeshia josetsu = Japanesia, 1977.
  • Shimao Toshio ni yoru Shimao Toshio, Tokyo : Seidōsha, 1981.
  • Sugiyuku toki no naka de, Tōkyō : Shinchōsha, 1983.
  • Gyoraitei gakusei, (魚雷艇 学生), Tōkyō : Shinchōsha, 1985.
  • Yumekuzu, (夢屑), Tōkyō : Kōdansha, 1985.
  • Shinʾyō hasshin, (震洋 発進), Tōkyō : Ushio Shuppansha, 1987.
  • Kimushi, (記夢志), Tōkyō : Chūsekisha, 1993.

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