In early 1938 Stephan is ill and leaves Hong Kong for Tarumi where he stays in his parents’ seaside Japanese house to recuperate. At first, he feels isolated in the village and finds Matsu who tends to his needs, too reserved, but as his health improves so does his relationship with Matsu. While he swims in the sea or paints, Stephan-san grows concerned as Japan invades China and its armies rampage south. But he forgets these worries when Matsu introduces him to his friend, Sachi who lives in Yamaguchi, a mountainside village for lepers. As the year draws to a close, is it safe for Chinese to remain in Japan? Will he be able to part from the close relationships he’s formed with Matsu and Sachi?
Tag: Japanese setting
In the 1950s when U.S. servicemen were based in Japan, Naoko meets a navy officer and they soon fall in love. Naoko arranges for the sailor to meet her parents, but her family are set on her marrying Satoshi who is from a respectable Japanese family. Marrying a gaijin would bring shame on the household. Decades later, when Tori’s father is on his deathbed back in the U.S., he hands her a letter addressed to Naoko that mentions their daughter. This note, and stories her father told her in childhood from his time in Japan, send Tori on a journey to Japan in search of a sister.
In the early 1900s when Sunja falls pregnant, she refuses to be mistress to a wealthy man she discovers is already married. Instead she accepts an offer of marriage from a minister, and they soon leave Korea for Japan.
This is a four generational tale exploring Japan’s attitude towards Koreans as well as the family’s struggles to survive. A compelling story. And I’ve decided to reblog this exceptional book because of the current controversy on Twitter over a Nike advertisement depicting racism in Japan.
Hardboiled and Hard Luck are two novellas in one book. The first story has a supernatural element beginning with the story teller’s walk through a forest and arriving at her hotel in a small village. In the forest, she already has a sense that something strange is in the air. The second story finds Kuni in hospital on a ventilator with her sister remembering their past closeness and trying to come to terms with her eventual death. Continue reading “Banana Yoshimoto’s — Hardboiled/Hard luck & The Lake *****”