Le masque de Nô

Le masque de Nô
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, Book # 1
Gallimard Jeunesse
August 27th 2020
Paperback
416
French
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June 23, 2021 July 11, 2021

The chronicles of maple and cherry tree form a tetralogy set in seventeenth-century Japan. We follow two heroes, Ichirō, a young samurai with a fabulous destiny, and the mysterious Hiinahime, a stranger who hides behind a Nō mask. In the first two volumes the narrator is Ichirō, in the other two it will be the heroine Hiinahime's turn to tell the story. The first volume, entitled The Nō Mask, traces Ichirō's life from childhood to adolescence. Abandoned, Ichirō is raised as a son by an unknown samurai who teaches him the way of the sword. The boy will live a solitary existence in the mountains, in the heart of a wild nature and at the rhythm of the seasons, between moments of bliss and lightheartedness and an apprenticeship that requires perseverance and courage. But one tragic night, Ichirō's life is turned upside down by the attack of shady samurai. Destiny will then take him to Edo (ancient Tokyo), where he will begin performing in kabuki theaters; there he will make his first friendships and meet Hiinahime, the unknown woman with the Nō mask.


About the book

First book in the series set in Edo period Japan (17th century) entitled Les chroniques de l’érable et du cerisier which, from the Italan translation (sorry don’t know any French) should be The Chronicles of Maple and Cherry tree, a very intriguing title. We are in the period in which the Tokugawa family holds the maximum political and military power in Japan, a period of isolation and persecution of Christians.

The book begins with a Master, a former samurai, who finds a child in a biwa shell in the forest near his isolated mountain home. He takes him home and together with the housekeeper he raises him as if he were his son. The latter, Ichirō, is raised with samurai teachings, of which the Master is an expert, until the Master’s past comes knocking on the door of the isolated house and Ichirō is catapulted into ancient Edo (current Tokyo) where, to survive, he has to beg and live on the streets, until he meets a poet who will help him find work. He also discovers the Kabuki theater and thanks to this, he makes his first friends. In Edo he also meets Hiinahime, a girl who hides behind a mask of the Nō theater.

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The Waiting Years

女坂
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Kodansha
1957
Paperback
203
Japanese
John Bester
April 14, 2021 April 19, 2021

The beautiful, immature girl whom she took home to her husband was a maid only in name. Tomo's real mission had been to find him a mistress. Nor did her secret humiliation end there. The web that his insatiable lust spun about him soon trapped another young woman, and another ... and the relationships between the women thus caught were to form, over the years, a subtle, shifting pattern in which they all played a part. There was Suga, the innocent, introspective girl from a respectable but impoverished family; the outgoing, cheerful, almost boyish Yumi; the flirtatious, seductive Miya, who soon found her father-in-law more dependable as a man than his brutish son.... And at the center, rejected yet dominating them all, the near tragic figure of the wife Tomo, whose passionate heart was always, until that final day, held in check by an old-fashioned code.

In a series of colorful, unforgettable scenes, Enchi brilliantly handles the human interplay within the ill-fated Shirakawa family. Japan's leading woman novelist and a member of the prestigious Art Academy, she combines a graceful, evocative style that consciously echoes the Tale of Genji with keen insight and an impressive ability to develop her characters over a long period of time. Her work is rooted deep in the female psychology, and it is her women above all-so clearly differentiated yet all so utterly feminine-who live in the memory. With The Waiting Years, a new and important literary figure makes her debut in the Western world.


About the book

End of Edo Period, a state official asks his wife to find a new concubine among the young ladies who are offered by the most respectable families in Tokyo. Tomo knows that she must obey to her husband but her heart breaks nonetheless.

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The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Kaguya Hime no Monogatari
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CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
2016
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28
Japanese
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March 30, 2021 April 1, 2021

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter is a 10th-century Japanese monogatari (fairy tale).It was also occasionally known as The Tale of Princess Kaguya. It primarily details the life of a mysterious girl called Kaguya-hime, who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a glowing bamboo. Life in this sacred space is idyllic, and the young sylph soon earns the nickname Takenoko (Little Bamboo) for the speed with which she grows. But the equally miraculous discovery of gold and rare fabrics convinces Sanuki that this glowing creature deserves better, and he moves her to the capital to seek a husband befitting her imagined regal status.

A succession of suitors ensue, all desperate to earn the hand of the mysterious young woman whose ethereal beauty has become the stuff of legend. But trapped within the gilded cage of a noble home and rigid social etiquette, the now formally named “Princess Kaguya” longs for the lost countryside of her childhood, and the friendship of handsome ragamuffin Sutemaru, which has sparked an eternal flame in her heart. Animation interpretation of Hayao Miyazaki studio Ghibli and his 79-year-old co-founder Isao Takahata keeps the animation studio’s stock high, amid reports of closure, with what has been rumoured to be his own final film. This adaptation of the 10th-century Japanese folk tale Taketori Monogatari (which has previously inspired such cinematic adventures as Kon Ichikawa’s live-action Princess from the Moon) boasts a sketchier, more impressionistic palette than the bold strokes of Spirited Away or Howl’s Moving Castle, which made Ghibli a global brand.


About the book

The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a mystical tale that, like many similar Japanese writings, seeks to teach the reader the fundamental concepts of living. In this tale the fundamentals thought are kindness and altruism of the bamboo cutter contrasted with the avarice and lust of Kaguya’s suitors.

In fact, one day the cutter finds a tiny girl among the bamboos and takes her home, raising her as a daughter and giving her everything he can. From that day on, he always finds bamboo to cut and makes a fortune. But both the cutter and his wife are getting old and would like to see their daughter married, but she doesn’t want this. Moreover, no one has ever seen her face and many think she is beautiful so much that many men would like to marry her.

When Kaguya realises that she can no longer postpone the marriage, she gives five trials to five suitors and whoever succeeds in completing the trial will be worthy of her hand.

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The Woman in the White Kimono

The Woman in the White Kimono
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Legend Press
May 28th 2019
eBook
352
English
March 24, 2021 March 29, 2021

Japan, 1957. Seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura’s prearranged marriage secures her family’s status in their traditional Japanese community. However, Naoko has fallen for an American sailor and to marry him would bring great shame upon her entire family. When it’s learned Naoko carries the sailor’s child, she’s cast out in disgrace and forced to make unimaginable choices with consequences that will ripple across generations.

America, present day. Tori Kovač, caring for her dying father, finds a letter containing a shocking revelation. Setting out to learn the truth, Tori’s journey leads her to a remote seaside village in Japan where she must confront the demons of the past to pave a way for redemption.

Inspired by true stories, The Woman in the White Kimono illuminates a searing portrait of one woman torn between her culture and her heart, and another woman on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.


About the book

The Woman in the White Kimono is a poignant story, which speaks of a rather sad piece of world history. We are in Japan in 1957, therefore after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with American domination still in progress. But Americans aren’t just invasors and bad people, some are good guys who enrolled in the army while still minors to escape the monotony of their lives. Here we meet Naoko who, together with a friend, meets an American, one day as she returns from school. She calls him Hajime because if her family learns that she has fallen in love with a gaijin (外人), a foreigner, she will surely be prevented from meeting him. But when her father decides it’s time for her to get married, she gets the opportunity to introduce her boyfriend to her family before being forced to marry her father’s chosen suitor, Satoshi.

Things are obviously not going well also because Hajime shows up in American uniform and the family still has a “hate” mentality over the Americans.

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