Akutagawa Award winner Naoki Matayoshi talks about writing that captures Okinawa’s atmosphere at the Ryukyu Forum

Akutagawa Award winner Naoki Matayoshi talks about writing that captures Okinawa’s atmosphere at the Ryukyu Forum

“I want to put into writing my parents’ hometowns and my grandmothers words,” says Naoki Matayoshi at the Hotel Royal Orion in Naha.


July 12, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

The July meeting of the members-only lecture series “Ryukyu Forum” (Ryukyu Shimpo President Junichi Tomita, presiding) took place July 12, at the Hotel Roya Orion in Naha. Comedian and author Naoki Matayoshi lectured on the topic, “Me and Literature,” in which he gave his thoughts on literature as well as his Okinawan an Amami roots.

Matayoshi, who won the Akutagawa Award for literature in 2015 for his novel, Hibana, is known commonly as a “bookworm comedian.” The reasons reading is so appealing for him include, “Because it is simple interesting,” as well as, “generally, the sensations I experience are being drawn out from the power of the author’s words, and the realization of this fact is exhilarating.”

Matayoshi’s father is a native of Nago, and his mother is from Kakeromajima in the Amami Islands. Speaking of episodes from each of his parents’ homes, Matayoshi said of both Okinawa and Amami, “I feel that the power of the islands melts away the boundaries between people,” and looking towards the future, “I think that it would be good to write about the cheerfulness and atmosphere around Okinawan people. I would love to be able to put into words what I feel from my parents and grandmother.”

Regarding his father, who proclaimed, “don’t get carried away,” when Matayoshi got some laughs from dancing in front of his relatives was around 5 or 6 years old, he said, “Because my father did his best to call me out on my bad logic, I became able to wrap all sorts of different situations. The love and support of my parents was key,” he continued, speaking about humor.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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