I discovered him more or less by accident when I was doing "cultural expeditions" with my children years ago: there's a permanent Yojiro Ishizaka exhibition in the building next to the Hirosaki Library.
A university professor, born and raised in Hirosaki, he wrote innumerable books during his long (1900 - 1986) life. His novels were so wildly popular that today I counted at least 50 movies that have been based on his books.
You would think that anyone that popular would have been translated into English! But the only translation I know of is the book Hannah Sawada (Hirosaki University) translated for her students and published last year. I think he's "too Japanese." And when I say "too Japanese" I mean that he's not what Westerners think is Japanese. His characters are too forthright - they make long speeches that cut to the heart of the issues at hand.
When I first read his books (10 years ago?) they simply blew me away.
Lately Mary, John and I have been watching the movies. They've lost their shock value - but they still make me think!