Fun Facts Friday: Osamu Dazai

Osamu Dazai (19 June, 1909 – 13 June, 1948) was an author from Japan who is considered to be one of the most important writers of fiction from that country.

Books by Osamu Dazai*Books by Osamu Dazai*

  1. Born as Shūji Tsushima, he was one of eight children to a wealthy family in Kanagi.
  2. After high-school, the author entered Hirosaki University in 1927, majoring in literature.
  3. At the university he edited student publications, started his own literary magazines, and eventually became a member of the university’s newspaper.
  4. After his idol, writer Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, committed suicide, the young student seem to have lost all will to study and live, and started spending his money frivolously.
  5. Before his 1929 exams, the author attempted suicide… for the first time. He tried to take an overdose of sleeping pills but did not take enough. In October 1930, after being expelled from Tokyo Imperial University, he tried again on a beach in Kamakura, a double suicide with a Tanabe Shimeko, a 19 year old bar hostess he barely knew. He was rescued by a fishing boat, she did not survive.
  6. He got married and started writing in a fast pace, using the nom de plume Osamu Dazai.
  7. In 1935, it was clear that Dazai would not be graduating. This is when he tried, for the third unsuccessful time, to kill himself by hanging. When his wife cheated on him with his best friend, the author and his wife tried to commit double suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills. They both failed.
  8. The author was excused from the draft during World War II due to his chronic chest problems and tuberculosis. Even though his house burned down twice during the American bombing of Tokyo, he and his whole family managed to escape.
  9. His daughter is famous Japanese writer Yūko Tsushima.
  10. He met Tomie Yamazaki, a beautician and war widow and abandoned his wife and children to be with her. At this point Dazai was a functioning alcoholic. Together with Tomie, he finally managed to kill himself, a double suicde drowning themselves in the Tamagawa Canal.

Books by Osamu Dazai*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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