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Sakyo Komatsu Edit Profile

novelist , screenwriter , writer

Sakyo Komatsu was one of the leading Japanese science fiction writers. His most famous novel 'Japan Sinks' was published in 1973 and sold more than four million copies in Japan alone, inspired two disaster films, and was translated into more than a dozen languages. Komatsu helped to establish the science-fiction genre in his country.

Background

Sakyo Komatsu is pseudonym of Minoru Komatsu. Born January 28, 1938 in Osaka, Japan.

Education

He graduated from Kyoto University with a degree in Italian Literature. Komatsu as a student, worked at small literary magazines. In 1952 became an editor of the amateur fiction magazine. After graduating, Komatsu worked as reporter for the financial magazine Atomu (Atom), then as a factory manage. In 1957 Komatsu was a radio comedy writer before turning to science fiction.

Career

In 1949 Komatsu wrote the manga by the name Minoru Mori. His career as a writer began in the 1960s. Reading Kōbō Abe and Italian classics made Komatsu feel modern literature and science fiction are the same.

In 1961 he wrote his first fantastic story 'Peace on Earth' for the Scientific-fiction Contest of SF Magazine. It was the story about a world in which World War II does not end in August 1945 and a young man prepares to defend Japan against the Allied invasion. Komatsu received an Honorable Mention and 5000 yen for it. The next year, he won this contest with the story 'Memoirs of an Eccentric Time Traveler'. Sakyo Komatsu soon became one of the most popular science fiction writers in Japan.

His first novel 'The Japanese Apache' was published in 1964 and sold 50,000 copies. In the same year, he published 'Day of Resurrection', which was later made into a successful movie.

In 1966 he wrote one of his most important novel 'At the End of an Endless Stream'. This book still tops the list in Japanese surveys of the best science fiction novels of all time.

Komatsu’s most famous novel was 'Japan Sinks', in which the shifting of the tectonic plates resulted in earthquakes across the entire nation and causes all of Japan to crumble into the sea. The book was published in March, 1973 and became a hit, selling over 4 million copies only in Japan. It was translated into more than a dozen different languages, and received positive reviews from foreign press like The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. A second edition appeared in the US in the aftermath of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake with a new opening statement by the author.

In 1982 he published a novel 'Sayonara Jupiter'. Komatsu adapted the story into the script for the 1984 film with the same name, directed by Koji Hashimoto.

Komatsu was involved in organizing the Japan World Exposition in Osaka Prefecture in 1970. In 1984 he served as a technical consultant for a live concert in Linz, Austria by Japanese electronic composer Isao Tomita.

He was one of two Author Guests of Honor at Nippon 2007, the 65th World Science Fiction Convention in 2007 in Yokohama, Japan.

Achievements

  • The novel 'Japan Sinks' won the 27th Annual Japan Mystery Writers’ Association Award and the Japanese National Science Fiction Convention’s Seiun Award.

    Sakyo Komatsu, Shin'ichi Hoshi and Yasutaka Tsutsui were considered the masters of Japanese science fiction.

    In 1985 Komatsu won the Nihon San Francisco Taisho Award.

Works

  • novel

    • The Japanese Apache 1964

    • The Day of Resurrection 1964

    • At the End of an Endless Stream 1966

    • Japan Sinks 1973

    • Sayonara Jupiter 1982

  • story

    • Peace on Earth 1961

    • Memoirs of an Eccentric Time Traveler 1962

    • The Savage Mouth 1968

Views

Komatsu was haunted by memories from his teenage years of the devastation caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He was inspired to write thinking of what would happen if the nationalistic Japanese lost their land, and ironically prefigured the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear plant disaster decades later on March 11, 2011.

Quotations: "In a world suffused by nationalism and ethnicity, he said, “I began to think how people in Japan would live if they lost their land,” adding, “I sometimes wonder if our intolerant territoriality is really justifiable on this planet, where continents are constantly drifting.”

Few days before his death, quarterly publication 'Sakyo Komatsu Magazine' released an issue featuring an article on his thoughts about the 2011 tsunami:

“I had thought I wouldn’t mind dying any day. But now I’m feeling like living a little bit longer and seeing how Japan will go on hereafter.”