Shûji Terayama


Terayama Shuji was born the only son of Terayama Hachiro and Terayama Hatsu in Hirosaki City, Aomori on December 10th, 1935; but his birth and name were officially registered on January 10th, 1936. His father, an officer in the “thought police”, leaves for the Pacific War in early 1941. He dies in September of 1945 of dysentery on the Indonesian island of Celebes, one month after HIroshima and the end of the war. Terayama himself lived through the Aomori air raids that killed more than 30,000 people when he was 9 years old. After the war, Terayama’s mother was forced to leave Aomori to find work at an American army base in Kyushu. Terayama was left to live with relatives, where he was given a place to sleep behind the screen in a movie theater. In 1954 he entered Waseda University, but soon fell ill with nephrotic syndrome when he was 19 years old. He spends the time working on his own poetry and writings, as well as reading many Japanese and western classics; he was particularly impressed with Leutreamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror. Since 1959, he mainly earned his life as writer of broadcasts or theatric drama. In 1960, he married producer Eiko Kujo, and with her formed the theatre company “Tenjo Sajiki”, or the Peanut Gallery in 1967. In 1964, he won the Prix Italia for his radio drama “Yamamba”. In 1970 his first feature length film “The Emperor Tamato Ketchup” shocked the world with graphic images of a children’s revolt along Nazi themes. He continued to write, produce, direct and generally create some of the worlds best avant-garde art until his death of the terminal illness that plagued him at age 49 on May 4th 1983. Prolific to the end, he published nearly 200 literary works, and over 20 shorts and full length films as well as untold works of theater with Tenjo Sajiki and others. He has no children, but his art lives on with annual theatre events, and every 10 years a full summer festivals featuring his life and works.