Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts.
Raised in Matsumoto, Kusama trained at the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts in a traditional Japanese painting style called nihonga. She moved to New York City in 1958 and was a part of the New York avant-garde scene throughout the 1960s, especially in the pop-art movement.
In 1973, Kusama returned to Japan in ill health, where she began writing shockingly visceral and surrealistic novels, short stories, and poetry. She became an art dealer, but her business folded after several years and in 1977 Kusama checked herself into the Seiwa Hospital for the mentally ill, where she eventually took up permanent residence. She has been living at the hospital since, by choice. Her studio, where she has continued to produce work since the mid-1970s, is a short distance from the hospital in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Kusama is often quoted as saying: "If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago."
Daido Moriyama studied photography under Takeji Iwamiya before moving to Tokyo in 1961 to work as an assistant to Eikoh Hosoe. He produced a collection of photographs, Nippon gekij shashinch, which showed the darker sides of urban life and the less-seen parts of cities. In them, he attempted to show how life in certain areas was being left behind the other industrialised parts.
Moriyama's style is synonymous with that of Provoke magazine, which he was involved with in 1969, namely 'are, bure, bokeh', translated as 'grainy, blurry, and out-of-focus'.
Moriyama's photography has been influenced by Seiry Inoue, Shmei Tmatsu, William Klein, Andy Warhol, Eikoh Hosoe, the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, the dramatist Shji Terayama and Jack Kerouac's On the Road.
Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan, during the post–World War II baby boom and raised in Shukugawa (Nishinomiya), Ashiya and Kobe. He is an only child. His father was the son of a Buddhist priest and his mother is the daughter of an Osaka merchant.
Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western as well as Russian music and literature. He grew up reading a wide range of works by European and American writers, such as Franz Kafka, Gustave Flaubert and Charles Dickens.
Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met Yoko, now his wife. His first job was at a record store. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened a coffee house and jazz bar, Peter Cat, in Kokubunji, Tokyo, which he ran with his wife, from 1974 to 1981. The couple decided not to have children.
Murakami began to write fiction when he was 29. "Before that", he said, "I didn't write anything. I was just one of those ordinary people. I was running a jazz club, and I didn't create anything at all." He was inspired to write his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing (1979), while watching a baseball game in 1978. Murakami suddenly realized that he could write a novel. He described the feeling as a "warm sensation" he could still feel in his heart. He went home and began writing that night. Murakami worked on Hear the Wind Sing for ten months in very brief stretches, during nights, after working days at the bar. He completed the novel and sent it to the only literary contest that would accept a work of that length, winning first prize.