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Akutagawa Ryunosuke (?? ??? Akutagawa Ryunosuke or ?????, March 1, 1892 - July 24, 1927) was a Japanese writer.
Akutagawa wrote no full-length novels, focusing instead on the short story as his main medium of expression. During his short life, he wrote over 150 short stories, including The Nose, The Spider's Thread, The Hell Screen, Autumn, The Ball, In a Grove, and Kappa. Akira Kurosawa directed the film Rashomon (1950) based on Akutagawa's stories; the majority of the action in the film was actually an adaptation of "In a Grove."
Akutagawa was born in Tokyo, the son of a milkman (Toshizoo Makino). His mother (Fuku Niihara) went insane shortly after his birth, so he was adopted and raised by his maternal uncle, from whom he got the family name. He began writing after entering Tokyo Imperial University in 1913, where he studied English Literature. He supported himself by teaching English and editing a newspaper. At that time he published his short story Rashomon (1914), which earned him the praise and encouragement by Natsume Soseki, and started The Nose, which would be finished only a couple of years later. It was also at this time that he started writing haiku under the haigo (or pen-name) Gaki.
While still a student he proposed marriage to a childhood friend, Yayoi Yoshida, but his adoptive family did not approve the union. In 1916 he became engaged to Fumi Tsukamoto, whom he married in 1918. They had three children, Hiroshi (1920), Takashi (1922) and Yasushi (1925).
In 1921, at the crest of his popularity, Akutagawa interrupted his writing career to spend four months in China, as a reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun. The trip was stressful and he suffered from various ills, from which his health would never recover. Shortly after his return he published his most famous tale, "In a Grove" (1922).
Towards the end of his life, he began suffering from visual hallucinations and nervousness. In 1927 he tried to take his own life, together with a friend of his wife Fumi, but the attempt failed. He finally committed suicide (by taking an overdose of Veronal) on July 24, 1927, saying ????????? (Bon'yaritoshita fuan, meaning "dim uneasiness"). In 1935, his lifelong friend Kikuchi Kan established Japan's most prestigious literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, in his honor.