Search SFE    Search EoF

  Omit cross-reference entries  

Komatsu Sakyō

Entry updated 8 May 2023. Tagged: Author.

(1931-2011) Pseudonym of Minoru Komatsu, a Japanese author and essayist widely regarded as the premier sf writer of his country. He began producing work of interest in 1949 with several Manga under the pseudonym Minoru Mori; none of these has appeared in English format. After publishing Fanzine fiction in 1952, he drifted into the professional field in the late 1950s, in genre Magazines and Japanese newspapers alike, as well as text stories in magazines otherwise devoted to comics, such as Shūkan Manga Times and Manga Yomihon. He graduated in Italian Studies in 1954 with a thesis on Luigi Pirandello, and received an honorary doctorate from Jōsai University in 2007.

Like his colleague Shinichi Hoshi, Komatsu thrived in the punchy world of short-shorts, with a single representative work such as Aru Ikimono no Kiroku ["Record of a Living Being"] (coll 1966) cramming in seventy stories. His early sf novelette "Chi ni wa Heiwa wo" ["Peace on Earth"] (1963 Uchūjin) was later nominated for the Naoki Award, Japan's most prestigious literary prize; it was reprinted in Chi ni wa Heiwa wo (coll 1963) along with other early short fiction. Komatsu's first novel was Nihon Apache-zoku ["The Japanese Apache"] (1964); his most important work of sf may be Hateshinaki Nagare no Hate ni ["At the End of the Endless Stream"] (February-November 1965 S-F Magazine; 1966), in which time-travellers flee a Dying Earth by leaping into the past, only to meddle with local technology and change the future.

Komatsu wrote the original stories that formed the basis for the combined Anime and live-action television series Uchūjin Pipi ["Pipi the Alien"] (1965, NHK) and the sf puppet show Kūchū Toshi 008 ["Aerial City 008"] (1969, NHK), and collaborated with Kōji Tanaka and Aritsune Toyota on the scenario for the series Saru no Gundan ["Army of the Apes"] (1974, TBS; cut trans 1975 as television movie Time of the Apes, 1987 US), a derivative cash-in on the Planet of the Apes films. The US version was considered sufficiently awful to grace the parody show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999), twice, in 1989 and 1991. His collection Jikan Agent ["Time Agent"] (coll 1975) was adapted into the Time Travel series for children Boku to Mari no Jikan Ryokō ["My Time Travel Journey with Mari"] (1980, NHK), in which a private investigator in contemporary Tokyo uncovers the secret office of the Time Patrol, policing the activities of criminals from the twenty-fourth century. In later life, he lent his name to the Komatsu Sakyō Anime Gekijō ["Sakyō Komatsu Anime Theater"] (1989, MBS), for which a number of his stories were adapted by Hiroyuki Yamaga.

Despite such prominence in the Japanese sf field, Komatsu's work has rarely been translated into English. His most popular work, in Japan and in translation, is the Disaster novel Nippon Chinbotsu (1973; cut trans Michael Gallagher as Japan Sinks 1976; vt Death of the Dragon 1978). It won the 1974 Seiun Award for Long-Form Fiction, sold about four million copies in Japan and was filmed by Toho Eiga as Nippon Chinbotsu (1973) with a very limited release in the West as The Submersion of Japan; the film was later re-released in the West as Tidal Wave (1974), cut by a third and with new scenes added by producer Roger Corman. In the novel the Japanese archipelago begins to slide inexorably into the Japan Trench. Beyond its well worked-out geological basis, Japan Sinks is effective as a deeply felt elegy for Japan herself in all her physical and cultural fragility: the story has no heroes or villains, the main focus of our attention being the dying of the country. Komatsu would return to a similar theme with his later novel Shuto Shōshitsu ["The Disappearance of Tokyo"] (1985), in which mass failure of communications and power in Japan's capital forces the rest of the country to subsist without its hub, with varying degrees of success. This novel won the 1985 Nippon SF Taishō ["Grand Prix"].

Komatsu's sf novel, Sayonara Jupiter (1982), features a scheme to turn Jupiter into a small Sun to render the outer solar system habitable (see Outer Planets); it also won a Seiun Award (in 1983) and was filmed as Sayonara Jupiter (1984; vt Bye-Bye Jupiter), scripted, produced and co-directed by Komatsu himself; the book itself predated Arthur C Clarke's 2010: Odyssey Two (1982), which uses the same central image. Komatsu's more recent novel, Kyomu Kairo ["Gallery of Nothingness"] (1987), has an immortal "Artificial Existence" (developed in an AI laboratory) riding a spaceship to research a mysterious "SS" (super-structure), a cylinder 1.2 light years in diameter and two light years in length, which suddenly appears 5.8 light years from Earth (see Macrostructures). Komatsu's other main works include Nippon Apache-zoku ["Japanese Apache"] (1964), and Fukkatsu no Hi ["Resurrection Day"] (1964), filmed as Fukkatsu no Hi (1981; vt Virus).

Komatsu received another Seiun Award for long-form fiction in 1971 for Tsugu no wa dare ka? ["Who Succeeds Humanity?" or "Who Will Inherit?"] (June-December 1968 S-F Magazine; 1972). He has additionally won the short-form Seiun for "Kesshō Seidan" ["Crystal Star Cluster"] (September 1972 S-F Magazine; title story of Kesshō Seidan, coll 1973); for "Bomisa" (July 1975 S-F Magazine); and for "Gordias no Musubime" ["The Gordian Knot"] (January 1976 Yasei Jidai; title story of Gordias no Musubime, coll 1977).

Komatsu's prolific output, both juveniles and serious works for adults, was often serialized in national newspapers, reaching an audience far beyond most science fiction in the West. It even extended into the traditional Japanese performance-poetry form known as kyōgen, for which he wrote Kitsune to Uchūjin ["The Fox and the Alien"] (1990). His nonfiction publications include compilations of essays, opinion pieces, lectures and "cross-talks" (third-party transcripts of conversations with other celebrities, a common phenomenon in Japanese magazines). Komatsu was active also as a publicist – for example, as a consultant for and organizer of Expos. In 1970 he conducted the "International SF Symposium" in Tokyo, following upon a successful gathering under the same rubric the previous year in Brazil, and recognized as the first truly worldwide conference primarily involving sf authors, including five delegates from the USSR as well as Brian W Aldiss, Arthur C Clarke and Frederik Pohl. His most important works have consistently dealt with large subjects: the destiny of the Universe and Homo sapiens's place within it. They are highly regarded for their panoramic vision and the encyclopedic knowledge they display. [JonC/TSh/JC]

see also: Worldcon.

Sakyō Komatsu

born Osaka, Japan: 28 January 1931

died Osaka, Japan: 26 July 2011


manga as by Minoru Mori

  • Ivan no Baka ["Ivan the Idiot"] (Tokyo: Fuji Shobō, 2002) [graph: 1949 Manga-Ō: binding unknown/]
  • Daichi Sokoumi ["The Land Beneath the Sea"] (Tokyo: Fuji Shobō, 2002) [graph: 1949 Manga-Ō: binding unknown/]
  • Bokura no Chikyū ["Our Earth"] (Tokyo: Fuji Shobō, 2002) [graph: 1949 Manga-Ō: binding unknown/]

individual titles

  • Nihon Apache-zoku ["The Japanese Apache"] (Tokyo: Kōbunsha, 1964) [binding unknown/]
  • Fukkatsu no Hi ["Resurrection Day"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1964) [binding unknown/]
  • Ashita Dorobō ["The Tomorrow Thief"] (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1965) [binding unknown/]
  • Hatashinaki Nagare no Hate ni ["At the End of the Endless Stream"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1966) [1965 SF Magazine: binding unknown/]
  • Goemon no Nihon Nikki ["Goemon's Japan Diary"] (Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1966) [binding unknown/]
  • Espy (Tokyo: Kadokawa, 1967) [1964 Manga Sunday: binding unknown/]
  • Mishiranu Asu ["Unknown Tomorrow"] (Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 1969) [binding unknown/]
  • Tsugu no wa dare ka? ["Who Succeeds Humanity?" or "Who Will Inherit?"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1972) [June-December 1968 SF Magazine: binding unknown/]
  • Nippon Chinbotsu (Tokyo: Koōbunsha, 1973) [binding unknown/]
    • Japan Sinks (New York: Harper & Row, 1976) [cut trans by Michael Gallagher of the above: hb/Al Nagy]
  • Sayonara Jupiter (Tokyo: Sankei Shuppan, 1982) [binding unknown/]
  • Shuto Shōshitsu ["The Disappearance of Tokyo" or "Tokyo Blackout"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1985) [binding unknown/]



  • Chikyū ni Heiwa wo ["Peace on Earth", or "Give Peace to the World"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1963) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kage ga Omo Naru Toki ["When the Shadows Become Heavy"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1964) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Nihon Urimasu ["Japan for Sale"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1965) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Aru Ikimono no Kiroku Short-Short Shū ["Record of a Living Being: Short-Short Collection"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1966) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kami e no Nagai Michi ["The Long Road to the Gods"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1967) [coll: binding unknown/]
    • "Jinrui Saiban" (1967 Hanashi no Tokushū) from this collection trans by Patrick Harlan as "The Trial of Humanity" (2005 Komatsu Sakyō Magazine) [mag/]
  • Ikiteiru Ana ["The Living Hole"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1967) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kueta Uchū ["Space Consumed"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1968) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Bōgata no Jidai ["The Age of the Pole"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1968) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Yami no Naka no Kodomo ["Child in the Darkness"] (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1970) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Hoshi Koroshi ["Star Killer"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1970) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Sanbon Ude no Otoko ["The Man with Three Arms"] (Tokyo: Rippū Shobō, 1970) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Aohige to Oni ["Bluebeard and the Demon"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1971) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Saigo no Onmitsu ["The Last Spy"] (Tokyo: Rippū Shobō, 1971) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Chikyū ni Natta Otoko ["The Man Who Became the Earth"] (Tokyo: Shinchō Bunko, 1971) [coll: pb/]
  • Asu no Asu no Yūme no Hate ["At the Edge of the Dream of Tomorrow's Tomorrow"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1972) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kiba no Jidai ["Age of the Fang"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1972) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Matsu Onna ["Waiting Woman"] (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1972) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Onryō no Kuni ["Land of Vengeful Ghosts"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1972) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Wink (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1972) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kesshō Seidan ["Crystal Star Cluster"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Shobō, 1973) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Adam no Sue ["Adam's Descendants"] (Tokyo: Shinchō Bunko, 1973) [coll: pb/]
  • Gosenzosama Banzai ["Glory to the Ancestors"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1973) [coll: pb/]
  • Toki no Kau ["The Face of Time"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1973) [coll: pb/]
  • Haru no Guntai ["Army of Spring"] (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Yoru ga Aketara ["If Night Ends"] (Tokyo: Jitsugyō no Nihonsha, 1974) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Honbō Tōzai Chofuchiki Oboegaki ["Memorial of Things Domestic"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1974) [coll: pb/]
  • Kagami no Naka no Sekai ["The World in the Mirror"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1974) [coll: pb/]
  • Saraba Yūrei: Jisen Tanben Shū ["Farewell Spirits: Selected Short Works"] (Tokyo: Kōdansha Bunko, 1974) [coll: pb/]
  • Sensō wa Nakatta ["There Was No War"] (Tokyo: Shinchō Bunko, 1974) [coll: pb/]
  • Ari no Sono ["Ant Garden"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1974) [coll: pb/]
  • Mukuchi no Onna ["Mute Woman"] (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1975) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Jikan Agent ["Time Agent"] (Tokyo: Shinchō Bunko, 1975) [coll: pb/]
  • Kokū no Ashioto ["Footsteps in the Void"] (Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 1976) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Otoko wo Sagase ["Search for the Man"] (Tokyo: Shinchōsha, 1976) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Yūme kara no Dassō ["Escape from a Dream"] (Tokyo: Shinchō Bunko, 1976) [coll: pb/]
  • Soratobu no Mado ["Window in the Sky"] (Tokyo: Bunshun Bunko, 1976) [coll: pb/]
  • Kochira Nippon ["This is Japan"] (Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1976) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kuenakatta Otoko ["The Uneating Man"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1977) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Hone ["Bones"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1977) [coll: includes the Seiun Award-winning "Bomisa" (July 1975 SF Magazine): pb/]
  • Gordias no Musubime ["The Gordian Knot"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1977) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Jikūdōchū Hizakurige ["On Shank's Mare Along the Road of Time"] (Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 1977) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Daimitei Kaiki SF ["Unfinished Questions: Weird SF"] (Tokyo: Jitsugyō no Nihonsha, 1977) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Buttai 0 ["Body 0"] (Tokyo: Shinchō Bunko, 1977) [coll: pb/]
  • Gogatsu no Hareta Hi ["A Fine Day in May"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1977) [coll: pb/]
  • Satellite Operation (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1977) [coll: pb/]
  • Idainaru Sonzai ["Augmented Existence"] (Tokyo: Hayakawa Bunko, 1978) [coll: pb/]
  • America no Kabe ["The American Wall"] (Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 1978) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Yoru no Koe ["The Voice of Night"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1978) [coll: pb/]
  • Tabi Suru Onna ["Woman on a Journey"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Bunko, 1979) [coll: pb/]
  • Issei ni Ichido no Tsuki ["A Once-in-a-Lifetime Moon"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1979) [coll: pb/]
  • Maboroshi no Nijūichi Seiki ["The Mysterious Twenty-First Century"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1979) [coll: pb/]
  • Hanayakana Heiki ["The Wonderful Weapon"] (Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 1980) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Neko no Kubi ["Cat's Neck"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1980) [coll: pb/]
  • Kōri no Shita no Kurai Kau ["The Dark Face Under the Ice"] (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1980) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Ichi Uchūjin no Mita Taiheiyō Sensō: Tanben Short-Short Shū ["The Pacific War as Seen by an Alien: Collected Short-Short Stories"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1981) [coll: pb/]
  • Sento ["The Capital"] (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1981) [coll: pb/]
  • Ayatsuri Shinjū ["The Manipulated Love-Suicide"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1981) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Kikai no Hanayome ["The Machine Bride"] (Tokyo: Keibunsha Bunko, 1983) [coll: pb/]
  • Ōsaka Yūme no Jin ["Osaka Dream Store"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Bunko, 1983) [coll: pb/]
  • Kiiro Izumi ["Yellow Spring"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Bunko, 1984) [coll: pb/]
  • Kochira Aho-ka ["This is the Moron Class"] (Tokyo: Keibunsha Bunko, 1986) [coll: pb/]
  • Kyomu Kairo ["Gallery of Nothingness"] (Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1987) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Nusumareta Aji ["Stolen Flavour"] (Tokyo: Keibunsha Bunko, 1987) [coll: pb/]
  • Toki nari Akichikyū Michiyuki ["Travels in Time, Space and Earth"] (Tokyo: Yomiuri Shinbunsha, 1988) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Komatsu Sakyō Short-Short Zenshū ["The Complete Short-Shorts of Sakyō Komatsu"] (Tokyo: Keibunsha, 1995) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Nippon Chinbotsu Dainibu ["Japan Sinks: Part Two"] (Tokyo: Shōgakukan, 2006) with Kōshū Tani [coll: binding unknown/]

films as original author

  • Nippon Chinbotsu (1973) (see Nippon Chinbotsu)
  • ESPY (1974; cut trans straight to television as ESP/Spy 1974 US). Directed by Jun Fukuda. Written by Ei Ogawa. Cast includes Hiroshi Fujioka, Yūzo Kayama and Masao Kusakari. 94 minutes, cut to 87 minutes. Colour.
  • Fukkatsu no Hi (1981) (see Fukkatsu no Hi)
  • Sayonara Jupiter (1984; vt Bye-Bye Jupiter). Directed by Kōji Hashimoto with Komatsu "supervising". Written by Sakyō Komatsu. Cast includes Diane Dangely, Rachel Hugget, Tomokazu Miura and Miyuki Ono. 130 minutes. Colour. Released straight to video/tv in some territories as Bye-Bye Jupiter.
  • Shuto Shōshitsu ["Tokyo Blackout"] (1987) Directed by Toshio Masuda. Written by Toshio Masuda and Hiroyasu Yamaura. Cast includes Yūko Natori, Hideji Ōtaki, Tsunehiko Watase and Shinji Yamashita. 120 minutes. Colour.

nonfiction (selected)

Komatsu's nonfiction work, spanning everything from a guide to Japanese food to futurist speculations for in-flight magazines, fills 59 volumes alone.

  • Gendai no Shinwa ["Modern Myths"] (Tokyo: Nippon Keizai Shinbunsha, 1973) with Masakazu Yamazaki [nonfiction: binding unknown/]
  • Rekishi to Bunmei no Tabi ["Travels in History and Culture"] (Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 1973) Komatsu Sakyō no SF Seminar (Tokyo: Shūeisha Bunko, 1982) [nonfiction: pb/]
  • SF Damashi ["SF Spirit"] (Tokyo: Shinchō Shinsho, 2006) [nonfiction: binding unknown/]
  • Komatsu Sakyō Jiden: Jitsuzon wo Motomete ["Sakyō Komatsu's Autobiography: Concerning Existence"] (Tokyo: Nippon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2008) [nonfiction: binding unknown/]
  • 3.11 no Mirai ["The Future of 11th March"] (Tokyo: Sakuhinsha, 2011) [nonfiction: hb/]


previous versions of this entry

This website uses cookies.  More information here. Accept Cookies