Photo/IllutrationNovelist Ango Sakaguchi’s short story “Fukuin” (Discharged from duty), which was carried by The Asahi Shimbun’s Osaka edition in November 1946. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Forgotten short stories penned by 1968 Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) and novelist Ango Sakaguchi (1906-1955) have been plucked from oblivion to appear in print again.

“Meigetsu no Yamai” (Illness of a bright moon) by Kawabata and “Fukuin” (Discharged from duty) by Sakaguchi first appeared in newspapers, but were then lost as they were not included in any collections in book form.

The stories will be published in the monthly literary magazine Shincho, which hits the stands on March 7.

Kawabata’s “Meigetsu no Yamai” is three manuscript pages long and was first carried by The Miyako Shimbun, a predecessor of The Tokyo Shimbun, in 1926. It was the same year as “The Dancing Girl of Izu,” one of his representative early works, was published.

The story is about a husband and wife sojourning at an “onsen” hot spring inn where a young maidservant dies after eating the reflection of a bright moon in a bath.

The plot, apparently adapted from a Chinese fable, combines beauty with magic in a bewitching atmosphere.

“It was one of his early works, but the writing style already suggests characteristics of his novels," said Harumi Fukasawa, a teacher at Wayo Kudan Junior and Senior High School in Tokyo and a director of the literary group Kawabata Yasunari Society.

She confirmed the story was published in 1926 when she studied newspapers of that year.

“It is too precious to let it remain buried,” she added.

Fukasawa also located “Tsuma Kurabe” (Comparing wives), an essay by Kawabata published by the same newspaper two years before “Meigetsu no Yamai.” The essay will also be published by Shincho.

Sakaguchi’s “Fukuin,” which is just one manuscript page in length, was published by The Asahi Shimbun’s Osaka edition in 1946.

Masao Saito, associate professor of Japanese modern literature at Osaka University’s graduate school, found the story when he examined a section of short novels printed by the newspaper from that time.

“Fukuin” is about a Japanese soldier who returns from the front to discover that his fiancee has married and has a child. The man draws solace from the fact that she is settled.

“The novel conveys his thoughts represented in ‘Darakuron’ (Discourse on Decadence),” Saito said, referring to Sakaguchi’s April 1946 essay that gave guidance for Japanese who were at a loss in the confusion following their nation’s defeat in World War II.

The essay won him instant fame as a writer.