Nobori Shomu

Nobori Shomu

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Nobori Shomu

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was the pen-name of a noted translator of Russian literature in Taishō and Shōwa period Japan. His real name was Nobori Naotaka.


Shomu was born in Amami Ōshima, the biggest one of the Amami Islands in Kagoshima prefecture. Born as a son of a scholar of Russian literature, he was baptized at Kagoshima Orthodox Church soon after his birth. He attended a school run by the Russian Orthodox Church in Tokyo, and later worked as a teacher at the same school. Recruited into the Imperial Japanese Army during the Russo-Japanese War for his Russian language abilities, the war came to an end before he graduated from the Imperial Japanese Army Academy. Despite the unpopularity of things Russian after the war, he contributed articles on Russian culture and literature to magazines and newspapers, and worked on the first comprehensive survey of Russian literature in Japanese, Roshia Bungaku Kenkyu ("Studies on Russian Literature", 1907).

In 1928, he traveled to the Soviet Union on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Tolstoy, and on his return to Japan was the acknowledged Japanese expert on Soviet literature and culture. His translations of various Russian authors from the 1930s and onwards was prolific.

After the World War II, Shomu was one of leading figures in Amami Islands Homeland Restoration Movement. The islands he had been born was separated from Japan after the War and then controlled under the United States' administration under the name of Northern...
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