He later traveled to Taiwan and the Philippines, but returned to education and graduated from Kyushu University in 1943.
He has been called a "writer"s writer", which is used as both a compliment and criticism. In 1944 he entered the military and was sent to Japan"s southern Amami Islands as an officer for a naval suicide attack (kamikaze) squadron in World World War 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. He then chose to live with her at the mental hospital, which was seen as a highly unusual action yet praised by Yutaka Haniya"s wife as showing "extraordinarily deep love." Although Shimao seems to have felt somewhat to blame for his wife"s illness due to his past affairs and what he describes as his own selfishness.
That work was adapted for the film The Sting of Death in 1990. 1950 Postwar Literature Prize for Shutsukotō-ki (A Tale of Leaving a Lonely Island) The Sting of Death and Other Stories, translations
Kathryn Sparling, Michigan Papers in Japanese Studies, University of Michigan Press, 1985.
J. Philip Gabriel, Mad Wives and Island Dreams: Shimao Toshio and the Margins of Japanese Literature, University of Hawaii Press, 1999.