Tokyo, Japan

Roger Pulvers’ translation of ‘The Face of Jizo’ to be used in international essay competition

The leading Japanese national daily newspaper The Mainichi has launched an English language essay competition based on the play The Face of Jizo, by Hisashi Inoue (1934-2010), the renowned Japanese author and playwright.

The newspaper, one of Japan’s oldest, will publish the English language translation of the four-act play, by the Red Circle author Roger Pulvers and Yuri Inoue, online.

The paper will release each act over four days from 3 August with the full play becoming available on 6 August, the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945.

The Face of Jizo (Chichi to Kuraseba) a play, written and first performed in 1994, about life in Japan after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, has been performed around the world including in London, Berlin, Moscow and Hong Kong.

It was also released as a film directed by Kazuo Kuroki (1930-2006) in 2004. The film like the play won critical acclaim and multiple awards.

Inoue, who won the prestigious Naoki Prize in 1972 for his novel Handcuffed Double Suicide (Tegusari Shinju)is one of several important Japanese authors brought up as Christians who had a major impact on Japanese literature, culture and society after the Second World War when many were searching for meaning in their lives.

The play, a tragic-comedy set in 1948, depicts the difficulty of trying to live a normal life after the bomb and the associated guilt of having survived.  

To participate in the competition essays of no more than 1,000 words in English from individuals between the ages of 13 and 23 about the play should be submitted to the newspaper before the end of October.

The Major of Hiroshima, the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief and Roger Pulvers (who make up the judging panel) will then select three winners.

More information on Hisashi Inoue is available on the newspaper’s website and competition details can be accessed here.  
  • RedCircle
    About Red Circle:
    Red Circle Authors Limited is a specialist publishing and communications company that conducts bespoke projects on behalf of a carefully selected and curated group of leading Japanese authors. Red Circle showcases Japan’s best creative writing. For more information on Red Circle, Japanese literature, and Red Circle authors please visit:
    • Roger Pulvers
      About Roger Pulvers:
      Roger Pulvers is an author, playwright, theatre director, and translator. He has published more than 50 books in Japanese and English, including novels, essays, plays, and poetry. Helping make Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and befriending David Bowie brought him back to Japan and inspired him to become the award-winning and prolific author, playwright, film director he is today. His recent novel, Hoshizuna Monogatari (Star Sand), which he wrote in Japanese, was published by Kodansha, Japan’s largest publisher, in 2015 and subsequently in English and French in 2016 and 2017 respectively. It was released as a film, directed by him, in 2017.