Osanai Kaoru

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Osanai Kaoru


Born July 26, 1881, in Hiroshima Prefecture; died Dec. 25, 1928, in Tokyo. Japanese writer, theater figure, and director. One of the founders of the shingeki (new theater) movement.

Osanai graduated from the department of literature of the University of Tokyo in 1906. In 1903 he published the poetry collection Leave-taking in the Meadow. He wrote novels and short stories. In 1909 he and Ichikawa Sadanji II, an actor in the Kabuki theater, founded the first theater of modern drama in Japan, Jiu Gekijo (Free Theater), which was closed in 1919. In 1912, during a trip to Europe to study the modern theater, Osanai lived in Russia, where he met with K. S. Stanislavsky and studied the work of the Moscow Art Theater. The influence of the Moscow Art Theater school was evident in all of Osanai’s subsequent work.

In 1924, Osanai and Hijikata Yoshi founded the Tsukiji Little Theater, which staged primarily plays by European dramatists, including Chekhov, Gorky, Ibsen, and Shakespeare. Osanai’s plays The First World (1921), The Son (1922), and Mori Yurei (1926) brought him recognition as a dramatist.

In 1928, Osanai visited the USSR. When he returned to Japan, he reorganized the Tsukiji Little Theater, which he wished to transform into a theater that would respond vigorously to contemporary political events. At the same time, Osanai sought to stage dramatic works of high quality.


Ozaki K. Novyi iaponskii teatr. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from Japanese.)
Istoriia sovremennoi iaponskoi literatury. Moscow, 1961.
Sato Kioko. Sovremennyi dramaticheskii teatr Iaponii. Moscow, 1973.
Mizushina Haruki. Osanai Kaoru to “Tsukiji shogekijo.” Tokyo, 1954.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.