Sweet Bean Paste


Oneworld Publications
February 6th 2013
Alison Watts
April 15, 2022 April 17, 2022

Sentaro has failed. He has a criminal record, drinks too much, and his dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste.

But everything is about to change.

Into his life comes Tokue, an elderly woman with disfigured hands and a troubled past. Tokue makes the best sweet bean paste Sentaro has ever tasted. She begins to teach him her craft, but as their friendship flourishes, social pressures become impossible to escape and Tokue's dark secret is revealed, with devastating consequences.

Sweet Bean Paste is a moving novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship. Translated into English for the first time, Durian Sukegawa's beautiful prose is capturing hearts all over the world.

About the book

Second reading of this masterpiece. Finally I have my own copy where I was able to put all the post-its and annotations and there are so many! I refer you to the first review of the book here.

What I think

How good is this book? The metaphors are phenomenal and the second re-read made me notice many things. The friendship that develops between the three protagonists is so genuine! The teachings that Tokue gives are so well said, I mean the words used are beautiful. The white blouse… when I get to that point, a valley of tears opens up.

How I wish I knew what Sentarou chose to do! Because as mentioned in the first review, the ending is quite open because we don’t know what the protagonist chooses to do. But I want to believe that he has his own shop called Tokue no Dorayaki and that Wakana works with him. And that the specialty is Yoshino’s salted dorayaki with salted sakura petals inside.

Please read this book and maybe watch the movie. I still have to do this, but I can’t find it anywhere!

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