Endo Shusaku was born in Sugamo, Tokyo in 1923 and was taken to Manchuria with his parents. In 1933, his parents were divorced, and the mother came back to Kobe, her hometown, accompanied by him. He was broght up among relatives on the mother's side. In 1935, he was baptized at age of 12, according to his aunt's advice. His Christian name was Paul.
He was ill-treated in the school because of his christianity in ultra-nationalistic days and especially in wartime. Oppression deepened his faith and make him aware of minorities. After the war, however, he was suffered from the baptism in childhood.
In 1954, after studying Catholic literature in France, he published his first story, Aden made (As far as Aden) in Mita Bungaku. In the next year, he wrote Siroi Hito (A White Man) in Kindai Bungaku and he got the Akutagawa Award. In 1958, he published Umi to Dokuyaku (The Sea and Poison), based on which Kumai Ke's film won the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Festival in 1986.
His most important novel is Tinmoku (Silence, 1966), in which a Portuguese Father made an illegal entry into Tokugawa-Japan in 16th century so that he preached and encouraged Japanese Christians, but he was arrested and obliged to renegade at last. When he was forced to trample the portrait of Jesus to demonstrate his renegading (Fumie), Jesus told him "I forgive you". Endo thought Jesus should be tender like mother and accept any trespasse of a weak man, although some Japanese Christians accused him because of resemblance to Jodokyo Buddhism. He was awarded Tanizaki Award by it.
He deepened his theology of motherhood in Sikai no Hotori (Upon the Dead Sea, 1973) and two essays on Jesus Chist; Iesu no Shogai (A Biography of Jesus) and Kirisuto no Tanjo (Birth of Christ).
He wrote not only serious novels but comical essays, in which he introduced himself as Korian (Neighbor of Old Fox and Raccoon Dog). Korian essays are very popular.
He was interesting in Occultism and life after death. In his last novel Fukai Kawa (The Deep River, 1973), he investigated meaning of death and possibility of reincarnation.
In his last years, he struggled with renal disease and died on September 29 1996.
Copyright 1997 Kato Koiti
This page was created on Octber 10 1997; Updated on October 12 1997.