On December 30 NHK will show the drama “A Stranger in Shanghai” based on a trip to the city Ryunosuke Akutagawa made in 1921. Akutagawa was born in the Year of the Dragon, Month of the Dragon, Day of the Dragon, and Hour of the Dragon (March 1, 1892) so his mother named him Ryunosuke that means “Son of the Dragon”.
From an early age he was interested in classical Chinese literature. In 1921 he took a break from his writing career to travel to China where he spent four months as a reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun. According to Wikipedia, “the trip was stressful and he suffered from various illnesses, from which his health would never recover.” During his time in China he visited many cities of southeastern China including Nanjing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. “Before his travel, he wrote a short story ‘The Christ of Nanjing’ concerning the Chinese Christian community, according to his own imagination of Nanjing influenced by Chinese classical literature.”
I am looking forward to seeing the NHK drama for insight into Akutagawa and also because NHK went to great lengths and efforts to recreate Shanghai as it appeared almost 100 years ago. At the time the Manchu Dynasty long rule ended in 1911 with the creation of the Republic of China and election of Sun Yat-sen as president. Ten years later in 1921 the Communist Party was formed in Shanghai. At that time Shanghai was an international city where foreign countries had concessions, or districts which they controlled. The Bund is that area where many of the large foreign businesses had their large office buildings.