Miho Shimao

Miho Shimao 島尾ミホ

Miho Shimao (1919–2007) was born in Kagoshima Prefecture, where she spent her early years growing up on Kakeroma Island, among the Amami Islands south of Kyushu, before moving to Tokyo for high school. She subsequently returned to Kakeroma and worked as an elementary-school substitute teacher. During World War II she met budding author Toshio Shimao when he was posted to the island as a commander in the Imperial Navy Special Attack Unit that was stationed on the island; after his imminent suicide-boat mission was canceled by the end of the war, they got married in 1946. She received the Tamura Toshiko Prize in 1975 for Umibe no sei to shi (Life and Death by the Sea), an autobiographical work portraying her childhood days surrounded by the natural beauty and distinctive culture of her southern island home. Many of her other works are similarly set on Kakeroma, including Matsuriura (Backstage at the Festivities) and Kaishō (Tidal Bore).

Books by Miho Shimao
  • Book

    Backstage at the Festivities

    This collection of seven linked stories portrays mid-20th century life on the tiny southern Japanese island of Kakeroma, where author Miho Shimao spent much of her life. In many of the tales, the narrative voice is that of an elementary-school girl named …