Jakucho Setouchi, 99, dies; Buddhist priest wrote about sex and love

Ms. Setouchi studied Japanese literature at the Tokyo Women’s Christian University and married Yasushi Sakai, who was nine years her senior, in 1943 during World War II. She accompanied him when the Japanese Foreign Ministry sent her to Beijing, and there she gave birth to her daughter, Michiko, in 1944.

On July 4, 1945, shortly before the end of the war, Mrs. Setouchi’s mother, who was hiding in an air raid shelter in Tokushima, was killed in an air raid by American B-29 bombers. In one of Ms Setouchi’s latest essays, published last month in The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s biggest dailies, she wrote about the horror of contemplating her mother’s death.

“Imagining her despair when she passed out,” she wrote, “my heart twists and can never be healed, no matter how many years have passed since then. “

She returned to Japan in 1946 and moved with her family to Tokyo in 1947. It was the following year that she left her husband and daughter for a relationship with a much younger man. Subsequently, as she once said in a newspaper interview, her father wrote to her in a letter that she had “derailed from the human path and entered the world of demons.” Ms Setouchi later told reporters that abandoning her daughter was the biggest regret of her life.

She divorced her husband in 1950, the same year she published her first novel, which was serialized in a magazine. Her relationship with her young lover did not last long, and she fell into successive relationships with married men. Areno Inoue, novelist and daughter of one of Ms Setouchi’s lovers, writer Mitsuharu Inoue, later told public broadcaster NHK that Ms Setouchi was a free spirit who “followed her own will” and “embodied freedom. “.

In 1957, Ms. Setouchi received a literary award for “Qu Ailing, the Student Woman,” a love story between two women, which takes place in Beijing during World War II. She published another novel later in the year, “The Core of a Flower”, about an affair between a woman and her husband’s boss. When some critics called it pornographic, she hit back, “Critics who say such things must all be helpless and their wives freezing.”

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