Sunday, March 12, 2023

Two great Japanese writers who committed suicide

 Yasunari Kawabata (June 11, 1899 – April 16, 1972)


Yasunari Kawabata won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968 for his trilogy Snow Mountain, Thousand Cranes and The Old Capital. In 1966, he had been nominated but had failed to win. Born in Osaka, he graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1924. He was president of the Japanese P.E.N from 1945 to 1965. His novels were distinguished by his sparse and poetic style. 

On April 16, 1972, around 11 am, Yasunari was sorting letters in his family’s Kamakura home, 50 km, south of Tokyo. Around 2:45, Kawabata told his family that he was going for a walk and took a taxi to the coastal town of Zushi City, 5 km away, where he maintained a workshop in Marina Mansion. When he wrote, he lived alone and worked alone in this studio.  Tsuguo Edanami, the driver, dropped Yasunari at Marina Mansion in Zushi City after 3:00 pm. When he did not return home at night, his domestic helpers, Toshie Shimamori and Nuiko Kazawa, visited Marina Mansion after 9:45 pm.

In Room 417, they found Kawabata dead in the bathroom with a 1.5-metre gas hose in his mouth. The other end of the hose was connected to a gas stove sitting at the entrance of the bathroom. A bottle of sleeping pills was found in Yasunari’s bedroom. Police classified the case as suicide but Yasunari’s widow disputed this verdict as there was no suicide note. She claimed that her husband slipped and fell and the gas hose got entangled around him.

Masanao Kurihara, a psychiatrist who had been treating Kawabata for several years, said that the author had been suffering from insomnia and had been taking sleeping pills even while he was busy. Masanao concluded that Yasunari was depressed as he could not write anymore. The writer once told Masanao, “My eyes are sleepy and my movements are slow. This is like a drug addiction (sleeping pills). I personally think that creation is the life of an artist, but I can’t create. And I think it’s pretty tough on me.”

In 1977, Yoshimi Usui penned a novel claiming that Yasunari had a lover who left him, leaving him devastated and prompting his suicide. He was sued by Yasunari’s family.


Yukio Mishima (January 14, 1925 – November 25,  1970)

Yukio Mishima’s real name was Kimitake Hiraoka. He was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1963, 1964 and 1965.  Yukio was a novelist, playwright, essayist, actor and model. After graduating from Tokyo Imperial University, he worked in the Japanese Ministry of Finance. His first novel Confessions of a Mask, published in 1949, shot him to fame and he turned full-time writer, creating more than 40 novels, plays, and short-story and essay collections during his lifetime. His schedule was to write from midnight till dawn every day. His works were themed with death, suicide, nationalism and self-torture due to inner demons.

On 25 November 1970, Mishima and four members of the Tatenokai—his small private army—Masakatsu Morita, Masahiro Ogawa, Masayoshi Koga, and Hiroyasu Koga visited the commandant Kanetoshi Mashita of Camp Ichigaya, a military base in Tokyo. Inside, they barricaded the office and tied the commandant to his chair. Yukio stepped out onto the balcony to address the soldiers gathered below.  He was disappointed that after World War II, America had re-written Japan’s Constitution, restricting its military powers. According to him, Japan had lost its cultural and religious roots, had become obsessed with materialism, globalism and Communism. Excerpts of speech are below:

“It is a wretched affair, to have to speak to Jieitai men in circumstances like these. I thought, that the Jieitai was the last hope of Nippon, the last stronghold of the Japanese soul. But Japanese people today think of most money, just money. where is our national spirit today? The politicians care nothing for Japan. they are greedy for power. The Jieitai, must be the soul of Nippon. The soldiers! The army! But.... we were betrayed by the Jieitai! Listen! Listen! Hear me out! We thought that the Jieitai was the soul of national honor! The nation has no spiritual foundation. that is why you don't agree with me! You don't understand Japan.…

“There you are in your tiny world. You do nothing for Nippon! Will any of you rise with me? You say that! Have you studied Bu (the warrior ethic)? Do you understand the way of the sword? What does the sword mean to a Japanese? I ask you. Are you men? Are you bushi? I see that you are not. You will not rise. You will do nothing! The constitution means nothing to you. You are not interested. I have lost my dream of Jieitai! I salute the emperor! Tenno Heika Banzai! Tenno Heika Banzai!”

After his speech, Yukio went inside the office of Kanetoshi Mashita and disembowelled himself.  As he lay dying, Masakatsu Morita tried to cut off Yukio’s head as part of the suicide ritual but failed after three attempts.  Hiroyashu Koga spared Yukio further agony by completing the task. Then Morita performed hara-kiri himself and his head was lobbed off by Hiroyasu Koga.

Yukio Mishima was cremated and his ashes interned at Tama Cemetery in Tokyo.  In 1985, Hollywood made a film about him titled Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters.


Thursday, March 9, 2023

Famous Taiwanese writer San-Mao (1943-1991) suffered several heart-breakers before she committed suicide

Taiwanese writer San-Mao, whose real name was Chen Mao-Ping, was born in Chongqing, China, on March 26, 1943. Also known as Echo Chen, she had an older sister and two younger brothers. When she was six, San-Mao moved to Taiwan with her family because of the Communists’ take-over of China. At 13, while studying at Taipei First Girls’ High School, she suffered a mental trauma that was to affect her for a lifetime.  One day, as she had scored zero in Math, her teacher—may the bitch burn in Hell—made her stand in front of the class and drew two circles around her eyes. The other pupils laughed at her. The teacher then ordered San-Mao to parade in the corridors. San-Mao fainted and later dropped out of school. Her father, a lawyer, enrolled her in Taipei American School where she learnt Chinese painting, flower arrangement, piano and literature. During this period, she became depressed and attempted suicide by slitting her wrist but was saved and given psychiatric treatment.

In 1967, she started studying at the University of Madrid and the Goethe Institute. At 27, she returned to teach German at the Taiwan Cultural University, and became engaged to a German teacher 20 years her senior. But her fiancé died of a heart attack on the eve of the wedding. San-Mao attempted suicide a second time by overdosing on sleeping pills. She survived and,wanting to start life afresh, returned to Madrid where she re-ignited her relationship with Jose Maria Quero (pix above), a marine engineer, whom she had met while studying there earlier. In 1973, the couple married in the then Spanish-controlled Western Sahara, where Jose had secured employment. During this time,

San-Mao started writing for Taiwan's "United Daily News Supplement" and her works grew increasingly popular.  Tragedy struck on September 30, 1978, when Jose died in a diving accident at La Palma, part of the Canary Islands off the north-western coast of Africa. After his death, the author continued her worldwide travels and writing.

In 1989, at 46 years old, San-Mao started a romantic relationship with Wang Luobin, a famous musician 30 years her senior, and who had spent 18 years in imprisonment by the Communist Government. They had admired each other’s works even before they had met. After having travelled from Taiwan to meet him in Uruqumi, Xinjing a few times, she wrote to him: “We are a kind of people without age. Ordinary worldly concepts can neither restrain you nor me. I don't want to call you teacher. Respect and love are not the same title. I don't think your heart is old." In another letter, the travel writer confessed: “It's not a coincidence, it's destiny, I can't resist it, it's a long way from thousands of miles. You can't ask me not to love you. At this point, I'm free.”

In Chen Tien-Hsin’s biography about her sister San-Mao, the former refuted their relationship. She wrote: “For Wang Luobin, she wrote to us and told us that she sang Wang Luobin's songs since she was a child, but now she knows this person; Wang Luobin is very old, so she regards Wang Luobin as an elder, but Sanmao expresses love to her elders. People may think it is love between a man and a woman, but she believes that this kind of emotion comes from the appreciation of artistic creation, and it is also a kind of emotional transmission between the elders and the younger generations. She did not mention that the two will become lifelong partners."

In early 1990, the movie “Red Dust” was released, its script written by San-Mao. On December 15, 1990, San-Mao attended the 27th Golden Horse Awards Ceremony, harbouring hope of winning an award. "Red Dust" clinched twelve nominations and won eight. San-Mao competed in the Best Screenplay Award, but did not win—she was heart-broken. The word in movie circles was that influential quarters pressured the judges not to award San-Mao because her script portrayed the Taiwanese Government unfavourably—she was angry.

At 7:00 am, January 4, 1991, a nurse making her round in a ward at the Taipei Veterans Hospital noticed that a patient was missing from her bed. She found the patient in the bathroom hanging from a metal IV stand with brown silk stockings around her neck. The deceased was San-Mao, who had earlier undergone an operation for endometrial hyperplasia.  As the IV stand was shorter than her, she had bent her body to suffocate herself. The writer was buried at the Chin Pao San Cemetery in New Taipei City. Interestingly, after San-Mao’s death, Wang Luobin wrote a love song dedicated to her.

From 1976 till her death, San-Mao published 26 books, the most prominent being Stories from the Sahara. The book has to date sold 13 million copies since its original publication 45 years ago. Over her lifetime, the adventurer-writer had travelled to more than 50 countries. Her former red-brick house—where she had lived alone—in Chingchuan village, Hsinchu County, Taiwan, has been converted into a museum. 

 Writers are depression-cursed souls whom tragedy often likes to strike.

Writers in double-suicide pact with their lovers: why? Or shall I ask, women in double-suicide pact with their writer-lovers: why?

 Takeo Arishima (1878-1923)


Takeo Arishima was a renowned novelist, literary critic and essayist during the late Meji and Taishio periods and also a co-founder of Shirakaba magazine, first published in 1911. His notable works The Descendants of Cain (1917) and A Certain Woman (1919) were translated into English.  He was born in Tokyo in March 4, 1878 and attended Sapporo Agricultural College. For unknown reasons, while studying in college, he attempted suicide with his lover Kokichi Morimoto, but survived.  After graduation, he worked in the US as a foreign correspondent for the Mainichi Shimbun and studied at Harvard University. 

Back in Japan, the writer married in 1910, but his wife died of tuberculosis six years later. In 1922, Takeo befriended Akiko Hatano (left pix), a married woman who was editor of Fujin Koron, a prominent women's magazine, which he regularly contributed to. Their relationship escalated into an extramarital affair, which was later discovered by Akiko’s husband. Tormented by emotional despair, Takeo and Akiko committed suicide in the mountain resort of Karuizawa, 100 miles from Tokyo, by hanging themselves. Due to the isolated location of the chalet where the suicide took place, authorities discovered their semi-decomposed bodies only a month later, identified by the suicide note left behind. Takeo and Akiko were buried side by side in the Tama Cemetery in Tokyo. 


  Osamu Dazai (1909-1948)


Osamu Dazai, pseudonym of Shuji Tsushima, began life on June 19, 1909, as the eighth child of a wealthy family in Tsugaru city in Aomori prefecture on the tip of Honshu Island. He was one of Japan’s most celebrated 20th century writers—brilliant, depression-prone, suicide-inclined and an alcoholic. His works numbered more than 30 novels and short-story collections. His last novel No Longer Human is considered a classic in Japanese literature. At the age of 21, he graduated in literature from Hirosaki University and enrolled in Tokyo Imperial University to pursue French literature. During this time, he started to drink and womanize. Partway through his studies, he dropped out to live with a geisha, Hatsuyo Oyama (left pix below).

His family disapproved of their relationship and disowned him. Osamu and Hatsuyo attempted suicide but they survived and went separate ways.  Shortly after, another romance made him attempt suicide again with Shimeko Tanabe—a bar hostess in Ginza (pix below).

The lovers tried to drown themselves at sea. A fishing boat rescued Osamu but Shimeko died, and the writer continued his studies after reconciling with his family.

However, intense writing and failure to get his degree snapped out another suicidal claw in 1935, and Osamu tried to hang himself but failed—his third suicide attempt. In 1938, Osamu renewed his relationship with Hatsuyo and married her but emotional stability did not become his ally. He became addicted to a drug and had to be rehabilitated at a hospital. During his stay there, Hatsuyo committed adultery with Osamu’s best friend, Zenshiro Kodate. When the writer found out after his discharge from hospital, the fallout was self-defeating, and husband and wife overdosed on sleeping pills. Again, they survived, and Osamu divorced her.  In 1940, Osamu married Michiko Ishihara (pix below), a teacher, and, in 1945—to escape the bombings of Tokyo by enemies—began a new life in Kofu, 113 km west. The couple later had two daughters and a son.

During his marriage to Michiko, another woman cast a hook in Osamu’s heart: Shizuko Ōta (pix below). She was one of his fans and had visited him with two literature-passionate friends in 1941.  The first casual meet led to more one-on-one contacts outside Osamu’s home and—as he needed new writing material—he used her diary entries to produce the novel The Setting Sun. Their working 

together on the book resulted in an affair between them and, in 1947, Shizuko bore him an illegitimate daughter, Haruko. By now, after having produced numerous works, Osamu was riding the crest of his literary fame but suffering in the trough of alcoholism-related ill health.

Soon after, Osamu met Tomie Yamazaki (pix above), a beautician. She had lost her husband to the war only after 10 days of marriage. The writer abandoned his wife and children and cohabitated with Tomie. He and Tomie committed suicide by plunging into the rain-fed Tamagawa Canal in Tokyo, on June 13, 1948. Their bodies were discovered on June 19, Dazai’s 39th birthday, their waists tied together with a red cord. Alas, Osamu Dazai had succeeded in taking his own life at his fifth attempt, and was buried in the Zenrin-ji temple in suburban Mitaka, Tokyo, with his lover.

Dazai’s legacy is not only his writings but his creativity bestowed on his two daughters—Yuko Tsushima and Ota Haruko—bore by different women. They later became successful writers in Japan. 

Writers over-loving a person embrace death over depression when circumstance wrecks that love.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

"Willie Mongin has guts when he spoke out against disallowing bikini-wearing at swimming pools," says Jessica

"Some quarters would like to see our beaches filled with women attired in black robes frolicking in the water,"  Jessica says, leaning back in her wingback chair. "Willie Mongin, Puchak Borneo MP,  doesn't belong to those parochial-minded people. I bet some fuckers here don't even know that there're nude resorts in Thailand and even in Bali."  

A spark twinkles in Jessica's eyes. "No, no, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying nude camps should be allowed here but merely pointing out the difference in mentality between the different tourism authorities."

"You visited Singapore last month. Does that country allow bikinis?"

"Don't know. I was at East Coast Beach, showing off my boobs! No one stared at me with goo-goo eyes."

"Can I see some pictures?"

"My pleasure." Jessica shows me her photo gallery in her cell phone. "That will cost you another tray of lady's drinks!"

"Where did you stay?" I take a glug of my Asahi beer.

"Fullerton Hotel. Five-star, regular room, siphoned my wallet by SING 700 per night." The bombshell points to a photo. "That's Anderson Bridge, hotel's in the background. Right in the middle of all heritage attractions." She tosses her gaze at the bartender. "Mike, lady's drink, another tray. Make it applejack this time."

"You've been to a nude camp?"

"They're called naturist camps in Thailand." The nightclub's number one hostess throws her head back and titters, "Seven out of ten couples at nude camps are grannies and grandpas Expect to see few nubile virgins and virile studs." Jessica winks one purple mascaraed eye. "Better burn your money in Hot Legs Nightclub!"

Thursday, February 23, 2023

“This is one of the worst cases of bad feng shui I’ve ever seen,” groans Sifu Sabrina


“Look at this photo.” Sifu Sabrina holds up a print with her manicured thumb and forefinger. “The client wanted a consultation on Skype after sending me photos of different parts of his single-storey bungalow in JB. This pix shows the garage.  A side door from the garage leads to the living room. There’s also a main door in front. The garage’s cluttered with trash and shoes on racks, including a washing machine.” The female sifu shakes her head, her long tresses quivering along with the movement. “No wonder the owner’s facing bickering with partners, back-stabbing by staff, and quarrels with wifey.” 

“Remedy?” I ask, craning my neck forward for a closer look.

“Put rubbish in a store room. In this case, at least install closets  so that all trash is concealed. And the washing machine that promotes disharmony because of its vicious spin cycle should be shifted to another spot. Other actions can also be taken” — the feng shui doll cracks a wry grin— “but I won't reveal them or I'll go out of business. Remember, always keep a place uncluttered.”


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Professions that are akin to flaunting fake boobs, according to Chinese sinseh Master Mah

Perched behind a counter in a Chinese medical hall, a pimply-faced store assistant swings his gaze to a woman seated nearby and grunts, “Next, Paulina Phuar.” He gestures to Master Mah’s desk in one corner of the store and trots over to hand the sinseh a manila folder.

The young woman goes from the waiting area to settle down at the chair across the sinseh's 

cuffed desk. Two firm curving breasts push her top prominently outward, while her exquisitely shaped legs bare from her thighs downward draw a long ogle from the sales assistant. 

Master Mah glides his gaze from Paulina’s face, cleavage and to her waist. “What’s your problem?”

“I’ve frequent dizzy spells.” Paulina massages her temples with the pads of her thumb and forefinger.

“Let me check your blood pressure.” Master Mah slips the cuff of a digital spyhgmomanometer over the upper arm of Paulina, jabs a button and reads the LED display. “Systolic pressure’s slightly high but dystolic pressure’s normal.” He places two fingers on Paulina’s wrist. “That can be due to work-related stress.” He closes his eyes for a moment. “Nothing wrong physiologically as indicated by your pulse.” He flicks his gaze at Paulina’s face. “You feel the environment’s spinning around you?”


“What kind of work do you do?” 

A reedy breath floats from Paulina's lips in surprise. “Public relations practitioner.”

“Your dizzy spell is psychosomatic. The mind and body function as one unit. Because your mind's always spinning the truth, going round the mulberry bush, so to speak, your sense of balance has been affected.”

The whites of Paulina’s eyes expand. “Sweet thunderation! I can tweak what you’ve said into an important medical discovery! You know, create a duck out of a feather.” She adjusts her spectacles. “Appoint me as your public relations agent and I can guarantee you interviews in the Medical Journal of Malaysia and the British Medical Journal.”

“Holy blazes! That’s interesting.” Master Mah’s lips quirk as he arches an eye brow. “I never knew that PR’s like your fake boobs! What you see is not what you get. I’ll give your proposal a thought.” He writes something on the manila folder and hands it to the store assistant. “Three packets, once a day, drink before sleeping.”

Paulina opens her handbag and takes out her name card. “Call me when you’ve decided.” She waits at the counter and the store assistant hollers to a twenty-something man, “Your turn, Mister.” Stepping forward, he hands another manila card to the sinseh. 

“What’s wrong with you?” asks the venerable geezer, looking down at the card. “I see, first time here.”

The man adjusts his polka-dot necktie. “My throat’s sore and my gums have boils.” A moustache bisects his nose and upper lip and he’s sporting hair combed straight back.

“Say aaaah.” Master Mah shines a slender torchlight at the man’s throat. “Throat is inflamed.” A pause. “Jeepers creepers! Your incisors’re sharp as fangs!” He asks in jest, “Are you a vampire by night?”

“Nay, I can do better than that.” A heave swells in the patient’s chest. “I’m an insurance salesman.”

“What the fuck! Another profession like fake boobs?” Upright shoots the sinseh, his eyes widening. “What you’re guaranteed, you don’t get.”

“Why you say that?”

“My relative encountered this case. Her granny—with medical insurance— collapsed on the staircase landing, croaked. Then fell to the bottom of the staircase. Autopsy showed a heart attack. The beneficiary filed a claim as a heart attack had killed her. The mother-fuckers refused to pay.  They counter-argued that granny—when still alive—fell down, and then the fall triggered the heart attack. No payment. Death caused directly by the fall, an accident, not directly by the heart attack. Tiew nia ma chow hia!” The geezer casts his gaze down on the manila card, writes on it and hands it over to the patient. “Collect your medicine at the counter, please. Drink twice a day.”

A sneer sprouts on the salesman’s face. “Loopholes and self-legitimized scams are our forte.”  Her expression is as insolent as who-the-fuck-cares?

The next patient is garbed in white long sleeves with white wing collar and bib. He is a few years shy off 40, has a dog-like face, low-browed, with jug ears and a nose hoggishly flat. 

A smile slithers across the sinseh’s wrinkled lips but it does not reach his eyes. “Whoa! You uphold the scales of justice! How honourable!”

“Thank you.” The lawyer allows himself a proud smile. “I won a case this morning.”  His hazel eyes light to attention. “Saved my mobster-client from jail. He was so happy he doubled my fee!”  The flimflammer unbuttons his sleeve and rests his wrist on the small pillow. “My client was charged for possessing heroin.” A little cough puffs out the lawyer’s cheeks. “Sorry, ahem, the charge sheet stated 30 grams, but the chemist’s report—when produced in court— stated 25 grams.  The case was dismissed on technical grounds. Yay! Discrepancy due to evaporation?” The dark-attired snake releases a hyena-like chuckle. “I got someone to fiddle with one of the documents!” He laughs again until his eyes water, and wipes off the tears with one hand.

Master Mah checks the patient’s pulse, then says, “So, you trash justice under the façade of upholding justice? Good, very good.”  After a few beats, the sinseh finishes his diagnosis. “You’ve caught a cold.” The patient removes his wrist from the small pillow.

Racoon-like eyes from the lawyer’s ugly face assess Master Mah. “Wanna talk business? If you get sued for malpractice, gimme a call.” He jags a brow and grins, revealing piranha-like teeth.  “Introduce me a client, you get a 15 percent commission. If that client gets me another client, you get an over-riding of five percent.” He fumbles in his trouser pocket for his wallet and slips out a name card. “Like multi-level marketing.” A politician’s smile veers on his lips.

Master Mah’s flinty eyes dance up to his patient. “The other day, I saw a dead snake and a dead lawyer lying on the DUKE Highway.” He skews him with a look. “I slowed my car as I passed the mangled bodies. There were tyre skid marks around the dead snake but none around the lawyer’s corpse.”


Sunday, February 19, 2023

"Hooray!" cheers Mummy Lulu. "North Korea has fired an ICBM as a warning to Washington and Seoul."

"Hooray!" snaps Mummy Lulu,  eyes lighting up with glee. "North Korea has fired an Inter-continental Ballistic Missile into Japanese waters as a warning to the US and South Korea who are holding military exercises in the area." The mama-san wags her gnarled finger, varnished at the tip. "Professor Peter Kuznick, Director of Nuclear  Studies Institute of the American University says this ICBM shows North Korea's capability of hitting anywhere in the world, including the United States. Yippee! "  The feisty lady punches the air. "So, don't try to bully China and North Korea by encircling them with military bases."