King Of Short Short – Shin-ichi Hoshi

July 9, 2011 Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

shinichiShin-ichi Hoshi (星新一), born in Tokyo 1926 and died in Tokyo 1997. He was an Edokko (江戸っ子/ Native Tokyoite).

When I first met his book, I was already in the university, maybe just started. It took me 2 hours to get to the uni so I read books, a lot and I was a fast reader. Sometimes I would read one book a day.

Going to the book shop at the station shopping centre has become my daily habit.

One day, I was in front of the book shelves, looking at the authors. Then my eyes stopped on one name, a very simple name. Shin-ichi Hoshi. I pick one of his book. I must´ve seen his name somewhere but didn´t know where. His name seemed to me in between, I mean, it didn´t sound real nor completely imaginative.

miraiisopAlso the illustration at the front gave me an impression that they were for kids.

Not just the illustration. I briefly looked inside, the words were sprinkled here and there, many space in between the lines.

"Strange" I thought but at the same time I was curious.

heaven where the devil isI picked up one, "Akuma no iru Tengoku (悪魔のいる天国)", can be translated "The heaven where the devil is". It´s a short story book.


I had underestimated him. Despite of his writing that some elder kids can even read it, the message was infinite and deep. Most of his work was short stories, yet sharp and witty, and I was always amazed by the unexpected endings.

One of the story was "Uchu no kitsune (宇宙のきつね/The fox in the space)".

In Japan it´s said that foxes trick people by transforming their appearance, and for this reason a fox went to the space with the pilot. When he feels lonely, the fox converted to a beautiful woman and comforted the pilot. Also he was there to become a livestock in case all the food was gone. 

After all the investigation, the space shuttle came back to the earth safely. The pilot came out and made a comment about his space trip, which is something you´d never imagine… something makes you flabbergasted.

It´s worth reading it, really.


Shin-ichi Hoshi is a Japanese SF novelist and a king of short stories, who was once the president of Hoshi pharmaceutical company which his father left him. Until his death, I didn´t even know how he looked like but then when I saw him in the photo, I believed he died young, I mean I just imagine by the freshness of the writing that the author would be some young a little geeky guy. Well, no, it was my prejudice.

Anyway, he seemed to be a quite unique person and he once was a member of "UFO study group". There was also another famous Japanese novelist, Yukio Mishima in this group


The characteristic of Shin-ichi Hoshi is easy going. And these illustrations are so matching for his books. The illustrator was Hiroshi Manabe (真壁博) who was also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan as well as Hoshi and they were said to be the best team.

 bokko chan

"Bokko chan"

Bokko chan

moody robot

"Kimagure robot"

The capricious robot

strange ancestor

"Okashina senzo"

Strange ancestors


hoshi illust

This is HOSHIZURU (ホシヅル). The character Hoshi had created and you can find this little bird in many places related to Shin-ichi Hoshi. There was even mobile strap and had sold out, pum!, just like that.

Maybe it was a really good idea that he had a good illustrator to work with for his books…




Some of his works have been animated. They look quite surreal but when you think about it, it´s real. It´s happening without us noticing it. It´s quite scary.

This is called "Yukitodoita seikatsu (行き届いた生活/ well-kept life)". We imagine the life in the future, I don´t know, in 2020? Everything is done by high-tech machines, they even give you caring words. But this story leaves you a doubt. What is the real meaning of life? Do we live just to work things systematically? 

Is this your ideal future life?


Hats off to this Japanese SF novelist, Shin-ichi Hoshino.

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