Minakami (or Mizukami) Tsutomu was a novelist from Fukui Prefecture. When he was nine, Minakami went to Kyoto to study in a Zen temple, but soon ran away, finding it too harsh. He was later brought back and moved to the Tojiin temple, and his experiences there became the basis of two novels. After leaving the temple in his teens, Minakami unsuccessfully tried writing while working various side jobs. In 1937, he enrolled at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto but dropped out midway through for financial and health reasons. Throughout his life he married and divorced many times, and the oldest son from his first marriage disowned him. After World War II, he studied under Uno Koji and wrote the autobiographical Furaipan no uta (Song of the Frying Pan, 1947). He did not publish for the next decade, but, after reading a detective novel by Matsumoto Seicho, wrote his own detective novel called Umi no kiba (Fangs of the Sea, 1960). Minakami won the Naoki Prize for Gan no tera (1961; tr. The Temple of the Wild Geese, 2008) and the Tanizaki Jun’ichiro Prize in 1975 for his biography of the Zen monk Ikkyu. Minakami’s writings often deal with Buddhist themes, such as his novel Kinkaku enjo (The Burning of the Golden Pavilion, 1977), which gives a different spin to the famous arson incident about which Mishima Yukio also wrote.

Historical dictionary of modern Japanese literature and theater. . 2009.

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