Terayama Shuji (1935-1983) was an avant-garde Japanese poet, dramatist, writer, director, and photographer. According to many critics and supporters, he was one of the most productive and provocative creative artists to come out of Japan. He was born December 10, 1935, the only son of Hachiro and Hatsu Terayama in Hirosaki city in the northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori. His father died at the end of Pacific War in Indonesia in September 1945. At the age of nine, his mother moved to Kyushu to work at an American military base while he himself went to live with relatives in the city of Misawa, also in Aomori. At this same time, Terayama lived through the Aomori air raids that killed more than 30,000 people.
Terayama entered Aomori Prefectural Aomori High School in 1951, and in 1954 went to prestigious Waseda University's Faculty of Education to study Japanese language and literature. However, he soon dropped out because he fell ill with nephrotic syndrome. He received his education through working in bars in Shinjuku. His oeuvre includes a number of essays claiming that more can be learned about life through boxing and horse racing than by attending school and studying hard. Accordingly, he was one of the central figures of the "runaway" movement in Japan in the late 1960s, as depicted in his book, play, and film "Throw Away Your Books, Run into the Streets!"
In 1967, Terayama formed the Tenjo Sajiki theater troupe, whose name comes from the Japanese translation of the 1945 Marcel Carné film "Les Enfants du Paradis", so can be translated as "children of heaven", though it has a meaning similar to the English expression "The Peanut Gallery". The troupe was dedicated to the avant-garde and staged a number of controversial plays tackling social issues from an iconoclastic perspective. Some major plays include "Bluebeard", "Yes", and "The Crime of Fatso Oyama", among others. Also involved with the theater were artists Uno Aquirax (Akira) and Yokoo Tadanori, who designed many of the advertisement posters for the group. Musically, he worked closely with experimental composer J.A. Seazer and folk musician Mikami Kan.
Terayama published almost 200 literary works, and over 20 short and full-length films.