Hitomi Kanehara

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Hitomi Kanehara
Native name
金原 ひとみ
Born (1983-08-08) August 8, 1983 (age 39)
GenreFiction, short story
Notable works
  • Hebi ni piasu (蛇にピアス)
  • Torippu torappu (トリップトラップ)
  • Mazãzu (マザーズ)
Notable awards

Hitomi Kanehara (金原 ひとみ, Kanehara Hitomi, born August 8, 1983) is a Japanese novelist. Her novel Hebi ni piasu (Snakes and Earrings) won the Shōsetsu Subaru Literary Prize and the Akutagawa Prize, and sold over a million copies in Japan. Her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide.

Early life[edit]

Kanehara was born in Tokyo, Japan. During elementary school she spent a year in San Francisco with her father.[1] At age 11, she dropped out of school, and at age 15 she left home.[2][3] After leaving home, Kanehara pursued her passion for writing. Her father, Mizuhito Kanehara, a literary professor and translator of children's literature, continued to support her.


Kanehara wrote her first novel, Hebi ni piasu (Snakes and Earrings), at the age of 21. The novel won the Shōsetsu Subaru Literary Prize and the Akutagawa Prize (judged by novelist Ryū Murakami), and became a Japanese bestseller, going on to sell more than one million copies.[4][5] Kanehara and fellow 2003 Akutagawa Prize honoree Risa Wataya remain the youngest people ever to receive the Akutagawa Prize.[6] In the same year that she won the Akutagawa Prize, Kanehara got married.[7]

Kanehara's novel Autofiction, with a story that unfolds in reverse chronological order, was published in Japan in 2006. In 2007 an English version of Autofiction, translated by David James Karashima, was published by Vintage Books under the same name,[8] and her novel Haidora (Hydra) appeared in print in Japan. A film adaptation of Hebi ni piasu, directed by Yukio Ninagawa and starring Yuriko Yoshitaka in the lead role, premiered in 2008.[9] Kanehara's novel Torippu torappu (TRIP TRAP) was published in 2009, and won the 2010 Sakunosuke Oda Prize.[10]

When the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurred in 2011, Kanehara left Tokyo for Okayama out of concerns about the effects of radiation on her children.[11] In 2012 she moved to France, and her book Mazāzu (Mothers) won the Bunkamura Deux Magots Literary Prize.[11] While living in France with her husband and two daughters,[7][12] Kanehara wrote several books, including Keihaku (Flirty) in 2016 and Kuraudo gāru (Cloud Girl) in 2017. After living in France for six years, in 2018 she and her family returned to Japan, where her essay collection Pari no Sabaku, Tōkyō no Shinkirō (Paris Desert, Tokyo Mirage), was published in 2020.[13]

Writing style[edit]

Kanehara's early work is known for its graphic depictions of sexual activity, violence, body modification, pedophilia, anorexia, bulimia, and self-harm.[14][15][16] Kanehara has claimed that her own experiences with self-harm have inspired her fictional settings and characters, and reviews of Hebi no piasu and Autofiction regularly focused on her own appearance and behavior.[17][18] A common theme in her work is personal choice, with characters often making choices that place them outside societal norms in order to take control of their own actions and consequences.[19] As Kanehara has explored this theme in her later work in the context of motherhood and family rather than youth and sex, media attention to her work has declined.[18]


Films and other adaptations[edit]

  • Hebi ni piasu (Snakes and Earrings), 2008[9]


Books in Japanese[edit]

  • Hebi ni piasu, Shueisha, 2004, ISBN 9784087746839
  • Ash Baby, Shueisha, 2004, ISBN 9784087747010
  • AMEBIC, Shueisha, 2005, ISBN 9784087747690
  • Autofiction. Shueisha, 2006, ISBN 9784087753646
  • Hydra, Shinchosha, 2007, ISBN 9784103045311
  • Hoshi e ochiru, Shueisha, 2007, ISBN 9784087748970
  • Torippu Torappu (Trip Trap), Kadokawa Shoten, 2009, ISBN 9784048740128
  • Yūutsutachi, Bungei Shunju, 2009, ISBN 9784163285207
  • Mazāzu (Mothers), Shinchosha, 2011, ISBN 9784103045328
  • Marriage Marriage, Shinchosha, 2012, ISBN 9784103045335
  • Motazaru mono (The Have-Nots), Shueisha, 2015, ISBN 9784087716061
  • Keihaku (Flirty), Shinchosha, 2016, ISBN 9784103045342
  • Kuraudo gāru (Cloud Girl), Asahi Shimbun, 2017, ISBN 9784022514448

Selected work in English[edit]


  1. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (March 27, 2004). "Just 20, She Captures Altered Japan in a Debut Novel". The New York Times. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  2. ^ "Hitomi Kanehara". Penguin UK. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  3. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (June 6, 2004). "An Aging Island Embraces Japan's Young Dropouts". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "すばる文学賞". Shueisha (in Japanese). Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  5. ^ Thorne, Matt, Autofiction, By Hitomi Kanehara, trans David James Karashima, The Independent, 29 February 2008, Accessed 7 May 2008
  6. ^ a b Ashby, Janet (March 4, 2004). "New Akutagawa winners offer hope". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "芥川賞W受賞から13年 綿矢りさ×金原ひとみ対談". AERAdot (Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). February 7, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Flynn, Chris (December 3, 2009). "Autofiction by Hitomi Kanehara (review)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "蛇にピアス". 映画.com (in Japanese). September 9, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  10. ^ a b "これまでの織田作之助賞受賞作一覧 1984~2013 年" (PDF). 大阪文学振興会 (Osaka Literature Promotion Institute) (in Japanese). Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c "第22回 Bunkamuraドゥマゴ 文学賞 受賞作品". Bunkamura (in Japanese). November 21, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  12. ^ Sato, Kuriko (May 30, 2016). "金原ひとみインタビュー「初めてハッピーエンドを書いたという気持ち」". Numero (in Japanese). Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  13. ^ "金原ひとみさん「パリの砂漠、東京の蜃気楼」インタビュー 乖離の中に存在する自分". Asahi Books (in Japanese). June 25, 2020. Retrieved September 26, 2022.
  14. ^ Aoyama, Tomoko (2008). Reading Food in Modern Japanese Literature. University of Hawaii Press. p. 207. ISBN 9780824832858.
  15. ^ Otomo, Rio (2009). "Chapter 9: A girl with her writing machine". In Aoyama, Tomoko; Hartley, Barbara (eds.). Girl Reading Girl in Japan. Routledge. pp. 130–142. ISBN 9780415547420.
  16. ^ Hartley, Barbara (2016). "Chapter 6: Feminism and Japanese Literature". In Hutchinson, Rachael; Morton, Leith Douglas (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature. Routledge. pp. 82–94. ISBN 9781317647720.
  17. ^ Hansen, Gitte Marianne (2015). Femininity, Self-harm and Eating Disorders in Japan: Navigating contradiction in narrative and visual culture. Routledge. p. 143. ISBN 9781317444398.
  18. ^ a b Holloway, David (June 8, 2018). "Kanehara Hitomi's Comfortable Anonymity". In Miller, Laura; Copeland, Rebecca (eds.). Diva Nation: Female Icons from Japanese Cultural History. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520969971.
  19. ^ Neustatter, Angela (May 29, 2005). "With a rebel yell". The Guardian. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  20. ^ "Hitomi Kanehara". Books from Japan. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  21. ^ Kanehara, Hitomi (June 12, 2015). "Mambo". In Emmerich, Michael; Hinks, Jim; Matsuie, Masashi (eds.). The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction. Comma Press. ISBN 9781905583577.
  22. ^ Kanehara, Hitomi (October 10, 2015). "Delira". Granta. Translated by Bradley, Dan. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  23. ^ Kanehara, Hitomi (November 11, 2020). "Paris Desert, Tokyo Mirage". Granta. Translated by Giles, Morgan. Retrieved January 20, 2021.

External links[edit]