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Nobel Literature Prize winner says Japanese roots reflected in his works

A young Kazuo Ishiguro, left in the front row, is pictured with his relatives ahead of his family's relocation to Britain, in this April 6, 1959 file photo taken in Shiga Prefecture. (Photo provided by a source close to the author)

TOKYO/LONDON -- Japan-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the Nobel Literature Prize on Oct. 5, said being born to Japanese parents has been reflected in his works.

During an interview with the assembled media in his backyard in north London on the afternoon of Oct. 5, the 62-year-old author said while he was raised in Britain, "A large part of my way of looking at the world, my artistic approach, is Japanese."

In retrospect, he said his parents used to speak in Japanese at his home, and he acknowledged that he has "always looked at the world partly through my parents' eyes." His background may provide part of the reason why the world-renowned author's works strike such a deep chord with Japanese readers as well.

Kazuko Morinaga, 88, Ishiguro's aunt on his mother's side and a resident of Kobe, was overjoyed at her nephew's Nobel accolade. "I'm so happy and excited," she said during a telephone interview with the Mainichi Shimbun.

In Ishiguro's childhood, Morinaga used to sometimes escort him to kindergarten while he was living in Nagasaki before his family moved to Britain when he was 5.

"He was an unassuming, quiet child," she recalled.

While Ishiguro's family had initially planned to stay in Britain for only a year or two, they ended up living there due in part to the intention of Ishiguro's late father Shizuo, who was an oceanographer, according to Morinaga.

She was reunited with Ishiguro as an adult when she traveled to Britain and when both of them visited a relative's home in Kyoto, among other occasions. "He is a mild and kindhearted person. I think he inherited his mother's character," Morinaga said.

In Britain, Ishiguro had often emerged as a leading Nobel Literature Prize candidate in recent years. Ishiguro, however, used to tell his 91-year-old mother, Shizuko, that when someone's name is mentioned as a Nobel candidate, they usually end up not winning it.

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