"A 'korogi' (cricket) sings/ Koro koro/ An autumn night."
His father Mokichi Saito (1882-1953), a prominent tanka poet, read it out of curiosity but made no comment, Kita once recalled.
Writer Morio Kita, who died Oct. 24 at the age of 84, wrote the following haiku as an elementary schoolboy: “A 'korogi' (cricket) sings/ Koro koro/ An autumn night.” His father Mokichi Saito (1882-1953), a prominent tanka poet, read it out of curiosity but made no comment, Kita once recalled.
Kita’s real name was Sokichi Saito. He started using the pen name Morio Kita because he thought it would be embarrassing for Mokichi’s son to be putting out poorly written novels. He chose the name Kita (north), because he had studied in cold places such as Matsumoto and Sendai. It is well known that his first name, Morio, derives from Tonio, after the novel by Thomas Mann (1875-1955) called “Tonio Kroger” with which he was infatuated.
Even though he was a medical student, Kita aspired to become a writer like his father. But he felt both awe and resentment of his father. He said that as a young man he tried to hide the fact that he was Mokichi’s son and learned to speak of him as a third party.
Once he established himself as a writer, Kita skillfully wrote serious literature that arouses the poetic imagination as well as humorous novels such as the “Dokutoru Manbo” series. His books made the bestseller lists during the period of high economic growth and prior to the popular “Korian” series by Shusaku Endo (1923-1996).
Traditionally, Japanese literature had tended to lack humor. Novels that lacked seriousness and made readers laugh were regarded as inferior. The excellent first book of the Manbo series “Dokutoru Manbo Kokaiki” (Doctor Manbo at Sea) put a crack in that barrier.
Kita once told a magazine that his works did not even come close to a single tanka by his father. When I asked him two years ago if he felt the same way, he nodded.
Kita wrote the following tanka as a young man: “You idiot, a letter from my father reads/ Maybe he is right/ I slip into a futon as usual.” Perhaps he has been reunited with his great father in heaven now.
—The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 27
A graduate of Tohoku University's School of Medicine, Kita initially worked as a doctor at Keio University Hospital. Motivated by the collections of his father's poems and the books of German author Thomas Mann, he decided to become a novelist. He was the second son of poet Mokichi Saitō. Shigeta Saitō, his older brother, is also a psychiatrist. The essayist Yuka Saitō is his daughter.
- 1960: Akutagawa Prize, for the novel, In The Corner Of Night And Fog, which was about Nacht und Nebel, the campaign in Nazi Germany to catch anti-Nazi activists and members of resistance movements)
Incomplete - to be updated
- Ghosts (1954)
- The House of Nire. Translated by Dennis Keene. New York: Kodansha International. 1984. ISBN 0870115928. Briefly noted in The New Yorker 60/48 (January 14, 1985): p. 117
- Nescafé Gold Blend CM (1974)
- Tetsuko no Heya (1980 and May 12, 2008 with Yuka Saitō)