In world literature, Japan has the oldest tradition of the novel; there is, however, no significant qualitative distinction between the Japanese “novel” and the Japanese “short story.” As a result, Yasunari Kawabata (kah-wah-bah-tah) may be said to have been a writer of short stories as well as novels, but the distinction is Western, arbitrary, and based merely on length. Some of the collections of Kawabata’s works that may be designated as collections of short stories are Jjka (1938), Shiroi mangetsu (1948), Maihime (1951), Bungei tokuhon Kawabata Yasunari (1962), Kgen (1969), Tenohira no shsetsu (1969), Shui yueh (1971), Tenj no ko (1975), and Honehiroi (1975). His first nonfiction work was the autobiographical Jrokusai no nikki (1925; diary of a sixteen-year-old).
Kawabata is also well known as a literary critic. His essays have been published in Bungakuteki jijoden (1934), Rakka ryusui (1966), Bi no sonzai to hakken/The Existence and Discovery of Beauty (1969; bilingual), Utsukushii nihon no watakushi/Japan, the Beautiful, and Myself (1969; bilingual), Isso ikka (1973), and Nihon no bi no kokoro (1973). He also translated into modern Japanese a selection of ancient Japanese stories as Ocho monogatari sh (1956-1958), and he translated the fables of Aesop as Isoppu (1968). His collected works have been published as Kawabata Yasunari zensh (1948-1969).