In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Manoa 13.1 (2001) 74-80

[Access article in PDF]

December 8

Dazai Osamu

I'm going to take extra care in writing today's entry. I want to describe how one impoverished Nipponese housewife spent 8 December 1941. Then, if this diary of mine should be unearthed in the corner of an old storehouse in a hundred years or so--when Nippon is holding her glorious 2700th birthday celebrations--it may be of some service as a historical reference, showing people what sort of life a housewife of our country was living on this critical day. So, poorly written though it may be, I must at least take care to write nothing but the truth. I don't want it to get all stiff and formal, however. According to my husband, there's nothing to be said for my letters and diary entries and so on except that they're deadly serious; he says they lack feeling. It's true that from the time I was a little girl, I was concerned only with being well mannered, and though I'm not really all that serious deep down inside, I somehow become awkward when I try to express myself and can't seem to loosen up or let down my guard--something I'm forever suffering the consequences for. Maybe it has to do with being too self-centered. I must make an honest effort to reexamine myself, especially now.

Speaking of the year 2700 reminds me of something rather silly that happened the other day. My husband's friend Mr. Ima came to visit for the first time in quite a while, and I had to laugh when I overheard him and my husband talking in the next room.

Mr. Ima said, "You know, this business about the big founding-day celebration has got me worried. It's really bothering me. Are they going to call it the year two thousand seven hundred or the year twenty-seven hundred? It weighs on my mind something awful. Doesn't it bother you?"

"Hmm," my husband said, giving it some serious thought. "It does, yeah, now that you mention it."

"See what I mean?" Mr. Ima, too, was perfectly serious. "It seems they're going to call it the year twenty-seven hundred. That's the impression I get, somehow. But if I could have my way, I'd like it to be two thousand seven hundred. Twenty-seven hundred just won't do. It's indecent, don't you think? I mean, it's not a telephone number or something. I'd like them to say it properly: two thousand seven hundred. I wonder if there isn't something [End Page 74] we can do to get people to say it that way when the time comes." He seemed sincerely worried.

"However," my husband said, setting forth his opinion in a horribly pompous tone of voice, "they may have a completely different way of saying it a hundred years from now. Not two thousand seven hundred or twenty-seven hundred, but, for example, nu-nu hundred..."

That's when I burst out laughing. How absurd can you get? My husband's always engaging in intense discussions with his visitors about things like this--things that don't matter one way or the other. A person with feeling is different from the rest of us, don't you know. My husband writes stories for a living. But it isn't much of a living because he's forever loafing and we just barely get by from day to day. I make a point of not reading his stories, so I have no idea what sorts of things he writes, but apparently they're nothing special.

Whoops. I'm digressing. At this rate, I'll never be able to write something good enough to last till the year 2700. I'd better start over.

Eighth of December. Early this morning, as I lay in bed thinking about all the things I had to do today and nursing Sonoko (our daughter, who was born in June of this year), I clearly...