Hiroshi Aramata

Hiroshi Aramata

(April 2015)
Born (1947-07-12) July 12, 1947
Tokyo, Japan
Occupation Writer, polymath,[1] translator, natural historian, scholar, literary critic, art critic, professor
Nationality Japanese
Alma mater Keio University
Notable works Teito Monogatari
Notable awards 1987 Nihon SF Taisho Award for Teito Monogatari

1989 Suntory Prize (サントリー学芸賞) for Illustrated Natural History: Fish of the World

1996 Eiji Yoshikawa Award for Curve of the Hook: An Interview with Yosihiko H. Sinoto

2007 NISTEP (Navigator for Japan's Science and Technology) Award for 「サイエンスとアートの融合した展示の企画」 exhibition
Spouse Hinako Sugiura
In this Japanese name, the family name is Aramata.

Hiroshi Aramata (荒俣 宏 Aramata Hiroshi, born July 12, 1947) is a Japanese author, polymath, translator and specialist in natural history, iconography and cartography. His most popular novel was Teito Monogatari (Tale of the Capitol), which has sold over 5 million copies in Japan alone.


Aramata was born in Tokyo. As a child, he was an intense bibliophile and avid collector of old books.[2]

After finishing high school, he immediately entered Keio University in 1966. During his time in college, he was mentored by acclaimed translator Hirai Te'ichii (who was responsible for providing the Japanese translations of the complete works of Lafcadio Hearn as well as Bram Stoker's Dracula). He heavily studied Western/Oriental magic and occult sciences.[2] He graduated with a degree in law.

Around this time, he moonlighted as a Japanese translator for classic fantasy literature. The Japanese translations he produced during this period include H.P. Lovecraft's acclaimed novella The Shadow Out of Time, Lin Carter's study Tolkien: A Look Behind "The Lord of the Rings", Lord Dunsany's fantasy works The Gods of Pegāna, The Charwoman's Shadow and The Travel Tales of Mr. Joseph Jorkens; George Macdonald's Lilith, William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land and The House on the Borderland; Abraham Merritt's The Ship of Ishtar and Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian novel, Hour of the Dragon.[3][4]

Although involved in a variety of projects, his main source of income was working as a full-time computer programmer and systems engineer. Circa 1979, he was browsing through old bookstores at Tokyo University in the Kanda District and rediscovered lost natural history collections by Oro Bakufu and Georges Cuvier. This helped to reignite his interest in the field of natural history.[2]

During this period Aramata participated in the development of the Heibonsha World Encyclopedia. While working on the Encyclopedia, he communicated with anthropologist Komatsu Kazuhiko, who communicated with him about many sources of strange and mysterious phenomena in Japanese folklore. Intrigued and excited by the information, Aramata decided that he wanted to write fiction as a way to share such esoteric knowledge with general readers.[5]

Thus as a small side project, he began writing a novel entitled Teito Monogatari that would incorporate elements of lesser known Eastern occult phenomena with recognizable modern Japanese history. When the novel was published in 1985, it became a bestseller and earned him a great amount of recognition and prestige.[2]

Since then, his reputation has grown increasingly popular in Japan as a man renowned for his encyclopedic knowledge on various subjects.[6] He is one of Japan's most prolific writers, having authored and translated over a hundred different books, both fictional and non-fictional.[7] His works span a wide range of topics from the occult to natural history, literary criticism, biology, cartography, and iconography. He is also known for his "Aramata Collection", a private library housing thousands of rare books from the 18th and 19th centuries.[2]

He has served as a judge on the Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize Awards since its inception[8][9] and has done likewise for the Japan Fantasy Novel Award. He is also a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan association.[10]

He was also an admirer and close friend of manga artist Shigeru Mizuki. Along with acclaimed yokai expert Natsuhiko Kyogoku, Aramata is a senior member of Shigeru Mizuki's Kwai (Scary Team) Organization.[11] He also was one of the producers of the "Oh! Mizuki Shigeru" Exhibition in Tokyo.[12]

In 2010, he served as General Producer of Nagoya's 400th anniversary festival.[13]

Works Translated into English

Selected Works


  1. Gill, Robin D. Topsy-turvy 1585 Paraverse Press, 2004. 549. (ISBN 0974261815)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Aramata, Hiroshi (1989), Birds of the World: as painted by 19th century artists, Crown Publishers, ISBN 0-517-57374-1
  3. SFWJ member: Hiroshi Aramata
  4. Herman, Paul (July 12, 2011), The Neverending Hunt: A Bibliography of Robert E. Howard, Wildside Press, ISBN 0809562561
  5. Reider, Noriko T. Japanese Demon Lore: Oni from Ancient Times to the Present, Utah State University Press, 2010, p. 117; ISBN 0-87421-793-8
  6. President of NZU Blog
  7. Schodt, Frederick L. Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga Stone Bridge Press. 1996, 2011, p. 288; ISBN 1-93333-095-3
  8. Osamu Tezuka Cultural Award 10th Anniversary
  9. 2003 Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prizes | Recipients and Finalists
  10. "日本SF大賞" (in Japanese). Science Fiction Writers of Japan. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  11. Ghost geeks take Japan back to its haunting roots
  12. Tokyo tourism info: Shigeru Mizuki Exhibition
  13. Greetings from General Producer Hiroshi Aramata | About Nagoya's 400th Anniversary Festival

External links

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