Fabio Sebastiano Tana, Maria Teresa Orsi
March 30th 2021
October 31, 2021 November 2, 2021
An evocative journey that from the districts of Tokyo reaches the most remote places in Japan, to discover authors from the most diverse eras: from the court lady Murasaki Shikibu, author of the Genji monogatari, against the background of the twin cedars of Mount Hatsuse, to the iconoclast Shibusawa Tatsuhiko, with its corner of the Six Paths, in Kyoto, where the well that leads to the underworld is hidden. And then of course Mishima Yukio, Kawabata Yasunari and Tsushima Yuko, who summarize the contradictions of the century that has just ended, and the poets of the last decades. Twenty-eight stages that touch both the places made famous by a literary quote, and others less known: the pond inside the University of Tokyo described by Natsume Soseki, the underground bar in Shinjuku made famous by Murakami Haruki, the extreme edge of the Ryukyu , Hiroshima risen from its ashes, the island of Sado refuge of the crested ibis… The constant intertwining of history, contemporary reality and the resulting poetic and literary representation gives rise to an original cultural geography of a civilization with inimitable characters.
About the book
The book is about some Japanese places which are the main location of other literal works or places where certain tales were written. All seasoned with long philosophical digressions on the authors. At the end, the author talks about writers and their works.
What I think
I haven’t finished this book and now I explain why. The book is a bit boring. I thought it was a book that talked about some hidden places in Japan, not that it talked about books (and the places of books) often saying the end, like for the chapter titled The Doriyaki of Mrs. Tokue (Sweet Bean Paste) which I want to read, but now I already know what Ms. Tokue has, how it ends and what happens. Obviously it is not specific, but certain details remain with you.
I stopped reading after this story, but then, by passing the index, I read “Ishinomaki” and knowing what happened there (thanks to Yuzuru Hanyu, and by the way, in the first story the writers talk about Uesugi Kenshin and I know who he is always thanks to him) I wanted to read that story because the topic interests me (the earthquake and tsunami of 2011), but then I stopped when the writers started talking about the author to whom the chapter was dedicated, only when they talked about the city was very interesting. Just as I read the story about Hara Tamiki, which talks about Hiroshima, in which I found another book to read. Then I raised the white flag and really decided to stop.
The book is not bad if you are interested in these authors and if it talked about the places without too much philosophising around it, but this does not happen and frankly I am not interested in reading authors that I do not know and of which I have not read anything (because the two writers enticed me to read only one of these authors because he talks about a topic that I like, but the others are out of my reach) or authors that it would be nice to have read before so as not to be spoiled on the book I intend to read (which I will most likely read anyway).
P.S. Many months after this review: Sweet Bean Paste anyway, becme one of my favourite, so much that I read it twice and when someone talks about it I want to read it again. (And if you click the two links above, you will see that they are different with both book reviews.)