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Hana is a well-educated, almost scholarly young woman when her grandmother sees her off to marry the headman of a village down the river. Even in 1900 her views of how a woman should behave are considered slightly old-fashioned, but she holds fast to them and also sees to it that her daughters get the best possible education as well as thorough training in the old Japanese arts. However, her eldest daughter Fumio was born a rebellious tomboy and rejects her mother’s ideas as hopelessly antiquated. Fumio moves to Tōkyo to study at the newly established Women’s College there, and yet, to Hana’s great relief the girl finds a suitable husband despite all and in due time. Fumio lives the life of a modern Japanese wife abroad until the war and she too has children, one of them fragile Hanako who is much more the girl that she would Fumio have liked to be.
Find more about this Japanese classic from the pen of a woman writer who is little known outside her country in the review on my book blog Edith’s Miscellany at https://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-river-ki-by-ariyoshi-sawako.html. And please don’t hesitate to share the review look, if you liked my observations. Thank you!

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Hello everyone! Just wanted to share an article we made about 6 Japanese short novels you can read in a day. Hope you all enjoy! :)

https://mindoverblown.com/6-japanese-short-novels-can-read-day/

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For two years the nameless cat has been living at the English teacher’s house and all the while he closely observed his surroundings. From the first day he finds human beings incredibly stupid and impractical coming to the conclusion that they are quite inferior to cats. His master seems to him particularly ignorant and good for nothing because once back from school he mostly lazes about in his study or he devotes himself to arts for which he shows no talent whatsoever. With his friends the teacher indulges in futile discussions showing off knowledge of Western culture that he only half understands and ranting about anything that annoys him even if it’s just the big nose of a neighbour.
Read more about this charming Japanese classic in the review on my book blog Edith’s Miscellany at http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2017/06/i-am-cat-by-natsume-soseki.html. Please share the review link with your literature-loving friends. Thank you!

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A laboratory accident disfigured the man’s face and estranged him from the world. Repulsive as he feels he believes that even to his wife he must be a stranger who wants to have nothing to do with him. He realises that without a face he is incapable of non-verbal communication and he is doomed to be sucked into the anonymity that surrounds him. The situation makes him plunge into philosophical reflections on the importance of the face in human relations and for identity. And because he can’t bear going on without a face, he decides to create a true-to-life mask and shape a new character matching it. Then the mask takes over.
If this brief summary aroused your interest and you’d like to learn more about this fascinating classic of Japanese literature, just go to the review on my book blog Edith’s Miscellany at http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2016/12/face-of-another-by-abe-kobo.html. And please think of sharing this post with others who might be interested!

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The budding artist Chihiro who lets herself drift through life without fixed goal and the scientist-to-be Nakajima who is entirely focused on a career in biotechnology seem to have little more in common than apartments in the same anonymous neighbourhood of Tōkyo. But both are unable or unwilling to get truly involved with others when they meet by chance standing at their windows facing each other. It takes them much time to poke out of their shells and to fall in love despite them. While Chihiro has to deal with the death of her mother, Nakajima is haunted by the ghosts of a traumatic past that he reveals only gradually in disjointed bits and pieces. They get closer when they visit friends of his at the mythical lake that seems to be the key to his story.
Be invited to read more about this slim novel from the pen of one of the most famous Japanese writers of today on my book blog Edith’s Miscellany at http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2016/12/lake-by-yoshimoto-banana.html.

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I was given a beautiful Hyakunin isshu book translated in German as a gift. What a surprise.
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In sixteenth-century Japan a Catholic priest, moreover a foreigner like Sebastian Rodrigues is doomed to a life in hiding. He is an illegal alien and his religion is forbidden. The mere possession of a Christian symbol like a crucifix or the picture of a saint, notably mother Mary, makes the owner subject to terrible torture and even death. When the priest is captured, the magistrate makes him witness the atrocities against Christians who have been found out, before he even asks him to apostatise. Since there’s nothing else that he can do for the Japanese martyrs, he implores God to interfere, to stop the suffering and to punish the infidels… but the answer to his prayers is nothing but silence. And he begins to waver in his faith…
For more about this Japanese Christian novel be invited to read my review for the Japanese Literature Challenge X on Edith’s Miscellany at http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2016/11/silence-by-endo-shusaku.html.

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A primary school teacher almost inevitably ties close bonds with her pupils, even more so when they are her first ever. But schools don’t only spread knowledge, they also prepare the children for a life as valuable members of adult society. Living in a country striving for expansion and supremacy in the region at any cost, teachers are called upon to fill the young minds with the ideals that the government considers appropriate for its purpose and to keep silent about any diverging opinion. No school ever escaped indoctrination and propaganda! The sensitive and critical teacher of this novel can only watch where fate leads her pupils. And then comes the war and takes many young lives – for what? The arrogant belief that one people is chosen to rule the world? A class reunion a few years after the war shows that it was all nonsense.
Read more about this Japanese anti-war novel from the early 1950s in my review on Edith’s Miscellany at http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com/2016/09/twenty-four-eyes-by-tsuboi-sakae.html.

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For some people like for twenty-five-year-old Rinko cooking is a vocation. It is her dream to open her own little restaurant one day, but when her Indian boyfriend walks out on her taking with him everything she owns including her savings it seems that it will never happen. Muted by the shock (literally!), not knowing a living soul in town to help her and without money she reluctantly returns to her mother in a small mountain village. Rinko has never been at good terms with her, and yet, she doesn't hesitate to take her in. She even allows Rinko to open a small restaurant in what was formerly a garage so she can back every penny she has borrowed... For more be invited to read my latest review on Edith's Miscellany!

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Usually labelled as crime novel merely because its protagonist is a pickpocket who never leaves his petty criminal setting, this rather bleak book from Japan offers social critique with philosophical overtones instead of the usual (and predictable) investigation of a mysterious murder. The pickpocket is a nameless loner moving through indifferent crowds, a nobody who himself is indifferent towards the people surrounding him until he comes across a boy like he was one once shoplifting in the supermarket and whom he wants to rescue from the doom of being a thief. An unscrupulous gangster boss uses this all too human weakness to make him do three delicate stealing jobs for him. For more about this gripping novel that earned the author the renowned Ōe Prize in 2002 read my review on Edith’s Miscellany!
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