Akutagawa Ryunosuke, the Father of the Japanese Short Story was born in 1892 in the multi-cultural Tsukiji district of Tokyo. Ryunosuke studied English literature at Tokyo Imperial University and then worked as both an English teacher and a newspaper editor before publishing his first collection of short stories, Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa later made a movie based on this work), in 1914. Unfortunately, the life of Ryunosuke was short and rather bleak. In 1921, Ryunosuke moved to China where he had a four-month stint as a reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shinhun. However, while he suffered from various physical ailments while in China, it was his own mental disturbances that took his life in 1927. After several bouts with hallucinations, Ryunosuke died from an overdose of barbiturates.
When was it now? On a cloudy afternoon, I had gone to a museum in Ueno to see an exhibition of early Meiji-era culture. I moved methodically from room to room until I came to the final display: engravings dating back to the period. In front of glass-enclosed shelves stood an elderly gentleman, looking at worn copper-block etchings.