Terayama Shūji (1935-1983) was one of the most prolific “outlaw” writers in the 1960s and 70s in Japan. He produced an enormous body of work in multiple genres ranging from poetry, essays, novels, short stories, film scripts and plays. The sheer volume and often provocative nature of his work accounts in large measure for his renown, but despite his notoriety domestically he remains virtually unknown outside Japan. Even within the world of letters in Japan, he was branded as an iconoclast and agitator, frequently relegated to the fringes of even those among the literati expressing counter-culture, revolutionary ideas about social behavior, sexuality and philosophy.
Terayama was born in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan where he lived with his parents until his father was conscripted to fight in World War II. His father subsequently died in Indonesia when Terayama was nine years old. In the immediately post-war turmoil, Terayama's mother left him in the care of an uncle to go work on an American military base on the southern island of Kyushu. Some critics maintain that Terayama’s creativity and literary exploration is primarily generated by his deep need to come to grips with the death of his father, abandonment by his mother. Shūji’s story published here will appear in the forthcoming book of her translated short stories, The Crimson Thread of Abandon, Stories, translated by Elizabeth Armstrong and published by MerwinAsia.