Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892–1927) wrote over a hundred short stories and was considered a major author when he committed suicide at the age of thirty-five (just after finishing Kappa): one of Japan’s most prestigious literary awards is named after him. Two of the stories from his collection Rashomon formed the basis of the award-winning film of the same title by Akira Kurosawa.


Fiction by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Translated from the Japanese by Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda Allison Markin Powell

Cover design by Jamie Keenan

The Kappa is a creature from Japanese folklore known for dragging unwary toddlers to their deaths in rivers: a scaly, child-sized creature, looking something like a frog, but with a sharp, pointed beak and an oval-shaped saucer on top of its head, which hardens with age. Akutagawa’s Kappa is narrated by Patient No. 23, a madman in a lunatic asylum: he recounts how, while out hiking in Kamikochi, he spots a Kappa.…
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One never tires of reading and re-reading his best works…The flow of his language is the best feature of Akutagawa’s style. Never stagnant, it moves along like a living thing.
—Haruki Murakami
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