The Life of Sato Kenji

Sato Kenij was born in Kamakura to Sato Ryuichi and his wife Momoko in 1961. He is the only son in a family of daughters: his sisters Yumiko, Kameko, and Chieko went on to careers in publishing, engineering, and motherhood, respectively. Kenji came of age in an ancient city, and over the years of his youth, plotted the most efficacious routes, in both speed and number of holy sites, between the hundreds of temples there. His first publication: The Efficient Pilgrim's Progress, was printed on folding glossy paper and distributed by local ice-cream shops, where his sisters worked in the summers.

In part due to this early success in the tourist industry, Sato was accepted to Tokyo University, in the anthropology department. There he met his mentor, Arawaka Chieko, not to be confused with his sister of the same personal name. Arawaka was the premier scholar of urban mythology at Tokyo University, and Kenji flourished under her direction. In the mid-eighties, they collaborated on a series of articles examining the place of the Japanese schoolgirl in the national psyche. (Child Goddess: The Mystique of the Uniformed Feminine) At her suggestion he began to research the budding folklore of trains, which have of course become central to the life of the Japanese, and therefore were certain to develop their own mythos sooner or later.

However, Sato and Arawaka disagreed on the nature of attribution, the royalties from their collected essays, and also on several personal levels. Their fruitful collaboration ended with Sato's completion of his doctorate, and he abruptly left academia to do what amounted to freelance field research. The result of twenty years of interviews with people of every kind and station is A History of Train Travel on the Japanese Isles. Arawaka-san has declined to comment on this masterwork.

Now in his late forties, Sato Kenji has come to America to study the railroads of this continent as he illuminated those of his homeland, and to celebrate a new edition of his seminal work. He is unencumbered by unnecessary feminine entanglements and left behind only a housecleaner and a somewhat indignant cat, which he is sure someone will look after. He is available for lectures, readings, and signings commensurate with his standing.