Hisako Matsubara (松原 久子 Matsubara Hisako, May 21, 1935 in Kyoto) is a Japanese novelist who has published works in German, English and Japanese.
Born the daughter of a prominent Shinto priest, Matsubara grew up in the serene setting of the Kenkun Shrine in the northern part of Kyoto. She graduated from high school in Kyoto, then attended Tokyo's International Christian University, where she studied comparative religion and literature. After receiving a BA, she moved to the United States to study theater arts at Pennsylvania State University, from which she graduated with a MA. She worked for a while as an editor in the US before moving to Germany in 1962. She lived in Marburg and Göttingen, where she attended the University and perfected her German language skills. She then settled in Cologne, and in 1970, obtained her PhD in philosophy jointly from the Ruhr University of Bochum and the University of Göttingen. In 1967 Matsubara started to write a regular column at the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit. This work turned into a collection of short stories and essays, Blick aus Mandelaugen, 1968, through which she entered the German literary scene. In 1969, Matsubara published a German translation of the ancient Japanese tale Taketori-monogatari. She worked on documentaries of the major German TV stations ARD and ZDF. She published several novels in German (Brokatrausch 1978, Samurai 1979, Glückspforte 1980, Abendkranich 1981, Brückenbogen 1986,Karpfentanz 1994, Himmelszeichen 1998,) which were quite successful in Germany and internationally as well. Her novels are set in recent Japanese history addressing changes in Japanese culture during the modernization and western influences as a background theme. Matsubara also wrote non-fiction books (Weg zu Japan 1983, and Raumschiff Japan 1989) highlighting contrasts between Japanese history and European history over the past five centuries. She moved back to the US in the mid 1980s, where she was a scholar at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. In recent years, she has published mostly in Japanese, both fiction and non-fiction. Currently she lives with her family in Los Altos.
Hisako Matsubara is a member of the German PEN since 1971 and since 1985 a member of the American Art Directors Club. She received the New York Critics Award in 1985 and in 1987 she was the Writer in residence at the East West Center in Manoa, Hawaii.
Matsubara is married to the German solid state physicist Friedemann Freund. Their son, the physicist Minoru Freund (1962-2012), died of brain tumor (glioblastoma) in early 2012.