A Japanese novelist famous for many works like KAPPA ,YABUNO-NAKA (In the Bush), and so on. He was born as the first son of Binzo Shinhara in Tokyo. When his mother Fuku went insane, her family, the Akutagawa, adopted him. In 1913, he entered Tokyo Imperial University and majored in English literature. Next year he published a literal magazine Shin-Shicho with other writers and in 1915, he came out in the Japanese literal circle with HANA (Nose). Then he wrote many popular novels but committed suicide in 1927. The Akutagawa prize for the new face in Japanese literal circle was named after him.

Many Japanese will be surprised when they hear that Akutagawa was a resident in Zero World. I myself is also a little perplexed as a resident registrar of Zero World. In fact, you can find many supernatural phenomena in most of his works. For example, in KAPPA, he describes spiritual research at that time. In YABUNO-NAKA a dead speaks through medium's mouth. KIRISUTOHORO-SHOIN-DEN is about St. Christopher. He deals with magic in AGUNI-NO-KAMI (God Agini) and KUMO-NO-ITO(The String of Spider) is based on Buddhist legend. He depicts the practice to become Sei-nin (chinese magi a sort) in TOSHISHUN. These descriptions show his extraordinary interest and knowledge in the field.
It is not so absurd to suppose that two Zero World residents had some influence on him in this field. One is Tomokichi Fukuhara (1869`1952) and the other is Wasaburo Asano(1874`1937).
Dr. Fukurai was a professor of psychology in Tokyo Imperial University, but in the year Akutagawa entered the University, he was forced to resign because he supported unexplained power of Japanese clairvoyants like Chizuko Mufine (1886`1911), Ikuko Nagao (1871`1911) and others.
Wasaburo Asano, another pioneer of spiritual research in Japan was also a majored in English literature in Tokyo Imperial University, and he was working at the navy school as an English teacher. After he resigned to join Omoto-kyo , Akutagawa became his successor. When Asano established Shinrei-Kagaku-Kenkyukai in 1923, Yoshio Toyoshima (1890`1955), who is graduate from same high-school with Akutagawa, and also a member of Shin-shicho magazine, was one of its original member.
Some relations between Akutagawa and Asano are possible but it can't be known how deep. We can't know how often Toyoshima and Akutagawa talked about spiritualism. Because Fukurai's resignation was a big scandal at that time, Akutagawa could know details of the event. Maybe it is not baseless to suppose that interest of these people around him in spiritualism spurred Akutagawa's interest in this field.

KAPPA: A Japanese legendary animal as you see in the picture. Although it is thought to be unreal, Kappa's stories which contain similar descriptions are handed down all over Japan except Hokkaido Island. Kappa is about 90cm to 120cm tall (often said to be as tall as a child) and characterized by turtle-like shell on its back, disk to preserve water on the head and webs of hands and feet. Its color is said to be dark-blue or green (green dwarf?). Some say they are from the space. BACK

Omoto-kyo: Japanese religious body. It was first organized as Dainihon-Shuseikai by Nao Deguchi and her son-in-law Onisaburo Deguchi in 1908.BACK

Shinrei-Kagaku-Kenkyujyo (Japanese Society for Psychical Research): An organization to study spiritual phenomena established in 1923 by Wasaburo Asano. This is the first organization of this kind in Japan and still exists. BACK

You can read Akutagawa's RASHOMON on Project Gutenberg.