Konjiki Yasha (The golden demon) (金色夜叉)

Konjiki Yasha is a representative novel of Meiji Period written by Koyo OZAKI. It appeared serially in Yomiuri shimbun-Newspaper from January 1, 1897 to May 11, 1902. This piece is unfinished. Once entered in Showa period, this novel has been often adapted for movies and dramas.

There is a famous scene in this story that Kanichi gave a kicked at Omiya who came after Kanichi to Atami for his forgiveness.

Summary

Although Omiya (Miya SHIGISAWA) was once engaged to a student of Daiichi High School (the first old-education-system high school), Kanichi HAZAMA, she suddenly got married with a wealthy Tadatsugu TOMIYAMA just before the marriage with Kanichi. Kanichi was infuriated by the act of Omiya; he questioned her closely about the reason when she came after Kanichi to Atami, yet she did not tell him the truth. Kanichi then gave a kick at Omiya and rejected her begging for forgiveness; Kanichi became a usurer in order to take a revenge on her. Meanwhile, Omiya could not live happily, neither.

Models of the story

According to a literary critic, Hirotoshi KITAJIMA, the model of the main character, Kanichi HAZAMA, was Sazanami IWAYA, a scholar of children's literature. He had a lover named Suma, who worked for a high-class Japanese-style restaurant in Shiba. However, Shintaro OHASHI of Hakubunkan (the model of Tadatsugu TOMIYAMA) made of with Suma while Sazanami was away for two years working at a newspaper publishing company in Kyoto. It is said that Sazanami did not mind that very much because he did not intend to marry her, but his friend Koyo got angry, burst into the restaurant, and gave a kick at Suma. It inspired Koyo to write the scene held at the seashore of Atami.

Evaluation of the work

Because the author died before completing the work, it is hard to see the perspective picture of the novel, but the compromise between the classical and colloquial styles was praised and considered splendid. However, once the naturalist literature in colloquial style became popular, its elegant prose was considered as old-fashioned. Because the mediocrity of the plot development of this novel became the point of focus, this novel has been no longer treated seriously since then.

The creation notes for this novel written by Koyo were found during the process of compiling Chuo Koronsha edition of "The Complete Works of Ozaki Koyo," which was planned around 1940. The memos revealed a part of his ideas; for examples, Kanichi spend all the money saved up by usury for justice; there was an intention for Omiya to get married with Tomiyama. However, this collection of works edition was not completed under the disasters of war, thus the novel did not come to the point of serious re-evaluation.

In the 1980s, the whole literary works published by Kenyu-sha Company were revaluated, and the study of the souces and ideas for those novels was developed; as the result, a theory became dominant that this novel was based on American novels. In July 2000, Keiko HORI, a Kitasato University lecturer (education department), found out that a source of the novel was "Weaker Than a Woman" written by Bertha M. Clay, which is owned by University of Minnesota Library.

A literary monument

Atami Sun Beach 'Omiya no matsu' (a pine tree of Omiya) (Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture) is a bronze statue depicting the scene of the novel, when Omiya came after Kanichi for begging forgiveness, and consequently Kanichi gave a kick at her with his geta (Japanese footwear).