Kanoko Okamoto

Kanoko Okamoto (岡本 かの子, pen name of Ohnuki Kano, 1 March 1889 – 18 February 1939) was a Japanese author.

She was home-tutored in music, calligraphy, traditional dance, and Japanese classical literature, and later attended the Atami Gakuen girls’ school. While she was in high school, Kanoko published tanka poetry in the magazine Myōjō (‘Bright Star’), and later contributed to the journals Seitō (‘Bluestockings’) and Subaru (‘Pleiades’). She went on to publish four volumes of verse.

In 1910, she started living with cartoonist Ippei Okamoto, with whom she had three children. After the death of her youngest son, Kanoko turned to religion and started working as a Buddhist scholar. After a tour through Europe and the United States, she published her fist piece of prose fiction, the novella Tsuru wa Yamiki (‘The Dying Crane’), in 1936.

Kanoko died of a brain hemorrhage in 1939.


In English

  • The House Spirit and Other Stories, translated by Kazuko Sugisaki (1995)
  • A Riot of Goldfish (also includes The Food Demon), translated by J. Keith Vincent (2010. Original: 金魚撩乱, Kingyo Ryōran, 1937/ 食魔, Shokuma, 1941)

In Japanese

  • Tsuru wa Yamiki (The Dying Crane, 1936)
  • Manatsu no Yoru no Yume (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1937)
  • Boshi Jojō (The Relationship between Mother and Child, 1937)
  • Kingyo Ryōran (A Riot of Goldfish, 1937)
  • Rōgishō (Portrait of an Old Geisha, 1938)
  • Kawa Akari (Stream of Light, 1938)
  • Marunouchi sōwa (Story of Inside the Grass Circle, 1939)
  • Seisei Ruten (Lively Ebb and Flow, 1940)
  • Nyotai Kaiken (The Opening of the Female Body, 1943)

About her

  • The Modern Murasaki: Writing by Women of Meiji Japan, by Rebecca Copeland (2007)
  • Japanese Women Novelists in the 20th Century: 104 Biographies, 1900-1993, by Sachiko Shibata Schierbeck, Marlene R. Edelstein (1994)

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