Japanese novelist helped bridge Japanese, Chinese cultures

Japanese novelist helped bridge Japanese, Chinese cultures

TOKYO - Taiwanese-Japanese novelist Chin Shunshin, whose historical fiction and other writing helped bridge Japanese and Chinese cultures, died of natural causes in a hospital in Kobe on Jan. 21. He was 90.

Chin was born in 1924 into a family of ethnic Chinese trading merchants. After graduating from the Indian-language department at the Osaka School of Foreign Language (currently Osaka University's School of Foreign Studies), he worked at a language institute specialising in South Asian languages and helped produce Japanese-Hindi dictionaries.

After World War II ended, he left the institute and began working on his first novel, "Karekusa no Ne" (roots of dried grass), a mystery tale that won the Edogawa Rampo Award in 1961.

After his debut novel, Chin started writing historical novels, completing the Chinese epic "Ahen Senso" (opium war) in 1967 and winning the Naoki Prize with "Seigyoku Shishi Koro" (sapphire lion incense burner) in 1969. He won the Mystery Writers of Japan Awards with "Gyokurei yo Futatabi" (revisiting Gyokurei) and "Kujaku no Michi" (road for peacock) in 1970, earning him his third prestigious literary prize.

Travels in China

Before and after Japan and China normalised diplomatic relations in 1972, Chin travelled throughout China and wrote a series of stories based on the themes of Chinese history and East-West cultural exchange. These works included "Tonko no Tabi" (travel to Dunhuang), published in 1976, and "Chugoku no Rekishi" (history of China), which came out in 1980-1983.

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