• Kyodo


A series of around 30 letters that novelist and playwright Kobo Abe (1924-1993) wrote to his younger brother between 1947 and 1951 has been found, according to his daughter, Neri.

The letters show the author of “The Woman in the Dunes” and “The Box Man” encouraging his brother, Shunko Imura, a Sapporo resident who was trying to become a doctor, and expressing his views on art, she said.

The letters were found in Imura’s home in Sapporo at the end of last year.

Addressing his brother as “Haru-chan,” Abe encourages him to “aim to become a doctor at all costs.” Judging from the text, Abe was financially helping Imura even though he was poor and sometimes apologized for not being able to send money.

Imura, born in 1927, eventually earned his medical degree.

In a letter written around 1949, Abe offers literary advice to Imura, who was writing poetry.

“Devise the expression that is appropriate to the image. (Your) imagery is first-class. You have a talent that I do not have,” it says.

Abe also wrote frankly about his creative work. In a 1947 letter, he states: “Everything other than art means nothing to me. Even if I were to throw my life away for it, there would be no regrets.”

In a 1949 postcard, Abe tells his brother he had just written a short story called “Dendrocacalia.” He appears excited about the work, saying, “I gained self-confidence in the technical aspect as well.”

“The material shows the writer Kobo Abe possessed an established way of thinking from the beginning. It also shows that he was a humanist,” Neri Abe said.

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