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1. Snow Country
2. Thousand Cranes
3. Palm-of-the-Hand Stories
4. The Old Capital
5. Pays de neige
6. The Sound of the Mountain
7. Beauty and Sadness
8. The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other
9. The Lake
10. Japan the Beautiful and Myself
11. The Master of Go
12. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
13. First Snow on Fuji
14. Soundings in Time: The Fictive
15. Le Lac
16. Three Modern Novelists: Soseki,
17. House of the Sleeping Beauties:
18. Kawabata Yasunari: Nihon no bigaku
19. Naissance d'un ecrivain: Etude
20. Pais de nieve/ Snow Country (Spanish

1. Snow Country
by Yasunari Kawabata
 Paperback: 192 Pages (1996-01-30)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.76
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679761047
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
To this haunting novel of wasted love, Kawabata brings the brushstroke suggestiveness and astonishing grasp of motive that earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature. As he chronicles the affair between a wealthy dilettante and the mountain geisha who gives herself to him without illusions or regrets, one of Japan's greatest writers creates a work that is dense in implication and exalting in its sadness. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

3-0 out of 5 stars Lost in translation!
I read this English translation and the story was hard to follow and boring at times. My wife, who owns the same novel but in a Spanish version translated by César Duran, was delighted with the story. Then she read it in English and told me that while at the most basic level the development of the novel was similar the English version seemed to her lacking poetic flow while the Spanish one was pure beauty.
I found this fascinating!
To think that a foreign author can be so differently understood by all of us simply because of who translates the work. I wish I understood Japanese.

5-0 out of 5 stars Captivating! Truly Moving!!
In Snow Country there is loss, love, and passion as Shimamura visits a small city.The women and Shimamura's love for them are a good combination.With complex characters who are put into tough life situations Yasunari Kawabata creates a realistic expression of human events.The theme of the geisha as a loving woman is convincing, and the quiet peaceful snow country is shook up by the events in the novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
Kawabata's Snow Country is a small masterpiece, a love story that is as subtle as it is intense. It takes place in a remote hot springs in western Japan and centers around a romance between the morose Shimamura and the world-weary Komako. This takes place over a few visits during several months, and as the novel reaches its conclusion both characters are filled with deep feelings for the other as dense as the all-covering snow that continually falls and seems to lock them in further confusion and torment. Kawabata sets a perfect pitch here, with the right amount of imagery and action, all while maintaining a delicate balance of emotion and restraint. Nuanced scenes follow one after the other, each one raising the stakes and further deepening the connection between these people who you get to care about because of how sparingly they are portrayed. The subjective ending feels just right, and is a fitting final note to such a haunting story. This is a book to take in slowly, ideally in a late winter's night.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating poetical world about relations which will linger!
This is an incredibly beautiful novel written by the Laureate in literature Yasunari Kawabata. It depicts the relation between Shimamura, a wealthy man and the geisha, Komako.
In the beginning of the story, Shimamura leaves his real life in Tokyo in order to meet his mistress in the hot spring town of Yuzawa.
The relationship is however not a satisfying one.Shimamura is bored by Komako's highly emotional outbursts and longs for what is impossible and unreal. He is therefore attracted by the shy and reserved Yoko whom he saw in the train. It was mostly her delicate, beautiful and almost surrealistic reflection in the window against the mountain landscape which moved him.
This is how Kawabata describes this appearance:
"Particularly when a light out in the mountains shone in the center of the girl's face, Shimamura felt his chest rise at the inexpressible beauty of it."

The novel is rich in images and metaphors and opens a fascinating poetical world about relations which will linger for a long time in the reader's mind.

Joyce Akesson, author of Love's Thrilling Dimensions and The Invitation

3-0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Books Love Jessica Marie
During the time that this book was written many people believed that becoming a modern, industrialized, country meant loneliness and detachment for the people of Japan, which is the main theme of the Snow Country. This theme of melancholy is portrayed through the love affair between an onsen geisha named Komako and a Japanese businessman named Shimamura. I believe that Komako and the snow country represents the old Japan, the one with traditional values such as Shintoism, Confucian hierarchy, and the traditional role of women. While Shimamura and technology represents the modern Japan because Shimamura is a business man, he rides a train to and from his home in Tokyo, and the use of telegraph systems in the snow country. Modern technology can also be seen as killing the old Japan because a movie projector burns down a silkworm cocoon storage barn and possibly kills one of the main characters.

Honestly, I kind of had a hard time with this book, even though it is a very easy read, only 192 pages. The storyline is very confusing and time will fast forward without much warning. I was also really disappointed with the ending, it is way to abrupt and has no sense of closure, I turned the last page and thought "really that's it?". Although in my history class we decided this was the author's way to take another jab at western culture because western books spelled everything out for the reader and he wanted his readers to think for themselves. Over time I did start to gain a soft spot for Komako even though she did come off as a bit crazy and an alcoholic, but I was unable to feel anything for Shimamura who was remained cold and detached throughout the whole book.

I would only recommend this book to people who already posses a knowledge about Japanese culture and history or posses an extreme love of Japan. I think one of the main reasons I was able to gain anything from this book is because it was assigned in a history of Japan class and I had the teacher for guidance. ... Read more

2. Thousand Cranes
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 147 Pages (1996-11-26)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679762655
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
With a restraint that barely conceals the ferocity of his characters' passions, one of Japan's great postwar novelists tells the luminous story of Kikuji and the tea party he attends with Mrs. Ota, the rival of his dead father's mistress. A tale of desire, regret, and sensual nostalgia, every gesture has a meaning, and even the most fleeting touch or casual utterance has the power to illuminate entire lives--sometimes in the same moment that it destroys them. Translated from the Japanese by Edward G. Seidensticker.

"A novel of exquisite artistry...rich suggestibility...and a story that is human, vivid and moving."--New York Herald Tribune

Kawabata is a poet of the gentlest shades, of the evanescent, the imperceptible. This is a tragedy in soft focus, but its passions are fierce."--Commonweal ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

3-0 out of 5 stars Lost in translation
3.5 stars

I found Thousand Cranes interesting, but a little hard to follow.Two of Kikuji Mitani's father's mistresses insert themselves into Kikuji's life.He falls for one of them, and later her daughter.A tea ceremony is central to the story, but it's meaning is a little lost on this Westerner.It's a short novel, but one I'm afraid I just didn't `get.'

I also own Kawabata's Snow Country, which I still plan on reading at some point, but unfortunately I didn't find Thousand Cranes to be all that exciting.

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata, was first translated into English in 1958.Kawabata won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, and he died in 1972.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata
This well-known Kawabata masterpiece is about a young man who has an affair with two women, both past lovers of his deceased father, a few years after his passing. Because of the women's conflicting personalities the affair(s) have very different impacts on them; one retreats into a guilt-riddled depression, and the other turns into a cold and vindictive schemer. From this bee's nest the story then shifts to the protagonist realizing of his affections to the daughter of the depressed mistress, and in typical Kawabata fashion it is a pseudo-romance explored with great subtlety and poise.

This book is every bit as good as Snow Mountain (it isn't mandatory to compare all his work with each other, but it does give you a bit of perspective). Whereas the former is more about loneliness and a connection with nature, this one focuses more on family, truth, and regret. The tea ceremony is an important metaphor here, and fittingly backdrops two young and confused people who begin to care deeply about the other, but due to past circumstances can only express themselves through circuitous trivialities. The actual plot is a little more than noticeable than in Snow Country as well, and the story is of course written in an overall manner of keen sensitivity and perhaps despair. Excellent reading for anyone interested in Japanese literature or otherwise. A wonderful book.

5-0 out of 5 stars It does what the best pieces of literature do, it opens your eyes to aspects of life you otherwise would not experience
To fully appreciate this novel, you must understand something about the Japanese culture, specifically courtship and the tea ceremony. Kikuji is a sexually active young bachelor and he is unable to overcome the shadow of his father's past with two women, neither of which is his mother. Chikako is a woman with an odd birthmark on her breast and when Kikuji was eight or nine he was with his father when he observed Chikako snipping the hairs on the birthmark. That one sight had a powerful affect on him, even now he thinks about it on a regular basis. Chikako was also one of the women that his dead father was in love with and she plays the role of the conniving shrew throughout the novel.
Mrs. Ota was another one of his father's lovers and now Kikuji has taken his father's place as her lover. This is further complicated by the fact that Mrs. Ota has a daughter (Fumiko) that is a prime candidate for marriage. Kikuji is an uncertain man; he is very interested in Fumiko but cannot bring himself to consider the possibility of an intimate relationship. When Mrs. Ota commits suicide, Kikuji and Fumiko are able to get together, despite the vile rumors that Chikako spreads about Fumiko. Unfortunately. Kikuji is unable to correctly pursue the girl; his past binds him too tightly for his present to take a proper course.
The role of the Japanese tea ceremony and flower arranging is an integral part of the story and there are many references to specific forms of utensils used in the ceremony. This is the aspect of the novel that will confuse people that lack an understanding of how important the tea ceremony is in Japanese society. Yet, this book is a masterpiece of literature as it does what the best examples do, it opens your eyes to other aspects of life that you otherwise most likely would not have encountered.

5-0 out of 5 stars Subtle prose, powerful content
Many consider _Snow Country_ to be Yasunari Kawabata's masterpiece, and while I am inclined to agree with this judgment, it would be a mistake to overlook _Thousand Cranes_, an amazing study of relationships by the modern Japanese novelist.

Kawabata's writing is often compared to the haiku form of poetry due to its concise effectiveness. Each word in _Thousand Cranes_ seems to have been chosen with extreme care, and the result is an engaging tale about the consequences of a love affair.

In a sense, _Thousand Cranes_ is about the presence of the dead among the living. One must keep in mind that Kawabata was a master observer when it came to relationships between men and women, and to the relationship that men and women have with death, that ultimate certainty in the life of every living being. _Thousand Cranes_ is a subtle, detailed, and profound exploration of these relationships.

The writing style in this novel is the style that made Kawabata famous, and for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. The characters are believable in their flaws and obsessions. Some of the images, such as that of Chikako's birthmark, will stay with you for a long time. The use of the Japanese tea ceremony as the background for the plot represents an interesting literary device and adds depth to the action, which takes on the character of an ancient ritual.

_Thousand Cranes_ is a highly recommendable novel. If you have read Kawabata before, you won't be disappointed. If you have not, perhaps _Snow Country_ would be the ideal place to start (after all, _Thousand Cranes_ is considered to be the second part of the thematic trilogy that began with _Snow Country_, although the characters are not the same), but in any case, _Thousand Cranes_ is a fine example of the genius, subtlety and depth that established Kawabata as one of the most significant authors of world literature.
Thanks for taking the time to read!

5-0 out of 5 stars Kawabata rocks!
This is the second book I've read by Kawabata and it was awesome. I first read Snow Country which is excellent as well. I find it better when reading this syle of prose to read slowly and little bits then let it sink in before moving on. I plan on reading all of Kawabata's works. ... Read more

3. Palm-of-the-Hand Stories
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 280 Pages (2006-11-14)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374530491
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1968, the novelist Yasunari Kawabata felt the essence of his art was to be found not in his longer works but in a series of short storiesÂ--which he called Â"Palm-of-the-Hand StoriesÂ"Â--written over the span of his career. In them we find loneliness, love, and the passage of time, demonstrating the range and complexity of a true master of short fiction.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars These are lovely
The story of the children and the lanterns was so lovely - the others were a treat to read too, but the lantern story is definitely my favorite.I also loved the story about the women waiting with umbrellas at the train station.There's also a really great one about a straw hat.

These stories are often very short (a couple of pages each, sometimes just one) and often they have a dream-like quality - they reminded me of magical realism a little, because like dreams the flow of events is not always linear or logical.I found them very soothing, though.I mean, I feel like some dreams are horrifying, all choppy and disorienting, everything just a little bit "off", and you never know what's going to happen next... these stories weren't like that.In spite of the dreamy "weirdness" at play in some of these, I found them really easy to relate to, but magical at the same time - aw, man, I wish I could describe it better, but they were just really nice!

I agree with another reviewer who said this'd make a great coffee table book (or - ha, sorry to be crude but - it'd probably be great in the bathroom too!).These are great stories to "chew on", because they hint at all kinds of meaning, sort of like a bunch of puzzles - you can read one quickly if you're bored, and they're still interesting on the second or third read.These stories are not all "weird", by the way - some of them are just funny, or touching, or cute.In any case, this is really just a lovely collection.Highly recommended!

4-0 out of 5 stars great words
nobel prizes are only standard for such a writer as Kawabata. and as too many before and after his, a tragic artist's life ends in a controversial suicide. great reading for quiet evenings alone or on a subway train home.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nobel Toilet Reading
Yes, I'm serious about the title of this review.Nobel Prize winner Kawabata's "Palm-of-the-Hand Stories", a collection of 70 mostly 1-4 page stories makes for excellent toilet reading, reading of the highest order.Don't lie to yourselves, we all do it - even the ladies.So instead of reading some junky magazine or playing a hand-held video game while on the throne, read this book; its stories are of the perfect duration.The stories range from slight observations to deep expositions on human nature.Coincidentally, one of the stronger stories in the book is titled 'Lavatory Buddhahood'.Go figure.So whether you take my advice as to where this book is best read or not, it's worth reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Cover is Curling Away
I hate the actual physical cover of this book,
the front and back cover are both very much curling outward,
so its hard to insert the book in a bookshelf.
This has nothing to do with the content of the book,
but it is very annoying nevertheless.

5-0 out of 5 stars Astonishing
These are among the most amazing short stories ever written. Some could be stereotypically described as poetic; others are more straightforward and prosaic. Some focus on brief moments; others traverse entire lives. Other reviewers have added a note of caution, but my suggestion is instead to jump right in. If you don't like one story, try a few more. The mystery and grace of these stories, the fullness of the emptiness surrounding their intensity and concision, and their range in time, content, and form will continue to astonish throughout one's life. ... Read more

4. The Old Capital
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 160 Pages (2006-01-10)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$8.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1593760329
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Old Capital is one of the three novels cited specifically by the Nobel Committee when they awarded Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. With the ethereal tone and aesthetic styling characteristic of Kawabata's prose, The Old Capital tells the story of Chieko, the adopted daughter of a Kyoto kimono designer, Takichiro, and his wife, Shige.

Set in the traditional city of Kyoto, Japan, this deeply poetic story revolves around Chieko who becomes bewildered and troubled as she discovers the true facets of her past. With the harmony and time-honored customs of a Japanese backdrop, the story becomes poignant as Chieko’s longing and confusion develops. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Look at Old Japan ("The Old Capital")
An amazing book!Most of us have never been to Japan orhave little knowledge of its customs.The translator has given us a readable and fascinating look at early customs and ancient traditions.I am taking a course using this book with a Japanese instructor.

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book on many levels
The Old Capital is a beautifully written book.The sentences as translated are elegant in their simplicity and the book makes clear the conflict between old and new Japan.I found the author to be exceedingly gentle and delicate in the manner in which the characters are portrayed and somehow even in a translation the story is exceptionally layered.The story is about a young woman, Chieko, who is a "foundling" of her childless parents.It follows her as she discovers her past and wrestles with her place in the present. For such a short book, the complexity of the stories and the characters would require a dissertation to describe.And yet, read on its own, many of its messages are easy to grasp.I recommend this book highly.

4-0 out of 5 stars Kyoto and a Story

Kuwabata portrays a post war Kyoto with a busy cultural life, but signs of modernity loom.Some festivals have been cut back due to the economy and proprietors of traditional family businesses worry about the future. Through the daughter of a textile wholesaler and her sister the issue of class is introduced.

I thought the ideas were more powerful than the prose.Kawabata gives some good descriptions of Kyoto, its festivals, the geisha and the life in the cedar groves that surround the city.He seems to be saying something about traditional life, family ties and class.What comes through is good, but was too subtle for me to fully understand.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Cold Capital
The aesthetic distance of Kawabata's "Snow Country" is revisted here, in "The Old Capital". The mysterious inner world of twins torn asunder before they knew it-then, by chance reunited is the central story line of this strangely quiet, beautiful book. Kyoto is the "Old Capital" and retains the physical and phsychic remnants of the Heian period.

Within the pages you travel close enough to the main figures to look them in the face, and deep within their eyes, but recognize that, ultimately, they are unknowable in some deep way-that the human heart has mysteries that cannot be solved. Even in translation, this book communicates an aesthetic sadness, a "mono-no-aware" sense of the fleeting beauty of falling cherry blossoms.

5-0 out of 5 stars Getting to know Chieko
As I've recently visited Kyoto, I really should read this book again. I have not read the book recently, but the imagery conjured from the prose is quite fresh in my mind. I've only read a translation; I can only imagine how lovely it must be in the original Japanese.

It's just a few days in the life of a girl (young woman) Chieko. There is no plot as such, and in someways it feels like it's an excerpt from a wider story. You become acquainted Chieko and her feelings, and there's a beauty in that. There is an event in the book which is referred to in other people's reviews. However I just don't feel comfortable getting you to think of what you can expect. This is a book for being in the moment with Chieko. Though I remember not being particularly enamoured by the first two pages. I'm glad I perservered past them; she's really very likeable. ... Read more

5. Pays de neige
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 252 Pages (1996-03-07)
-- used & new: US$44.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 2226085882
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

6. The Sound of the Mountain
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 288 Pages (1996-05-28)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679762647
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (23)

4-0 out of 5 stars Nature with little energy
The Sound of the Mountain is a beautifully written book about very little. It portrays post-war Japan from the perspective of an older person, but it fails to make his experience of the war seem real. The book's greatest strength is the sense of the Japanese culture and its sensitivity to nature which leaves the reader aware that (s)he has had a real encounter with a world of unique delicacy. However, the attitudes towards women that are reflected in the book also show a society of great insensitivity.

The greatest negative of this book for me was the lack of energy. The characters seem more like players in a noh drama than people. They go through stylized actions, but they seem to bring no force to bear in their lives.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lovely Proof of Universal Themes
This book is so well written, so lyrical and evocative, with descriptions of nature and natural metaphors.It presents a picture of everyday life in Japan that is recognizable to Western readers since despite the cultural differences, the situations depict universal experience.The relationships between the family members are familiar.The central figure, a man approaching his twilight years, is contemplative, having lived a quiet life, he finds himself dwelling on matters of mortality inspired by the increasing numbers of deaths of his friends.It was difficult at first to get oriented as to the time this story is taking place.The book, written in 1970, refers to the War Years as if they were closer than 30 years previous.The optimistic tone throughout is ironic given that despite winning the Nobel Prize in 1968, Kawabata committed suicide 2 years after the publication of this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars SPOILERS in Reviews
WATCH OUT, many plot SPOILERS in the reviews here.Haven't read this book yet, and made the mistake of reading some of these reviews.What were some of these folks thinking???

5-0 out of 5 stars Reading Kawabata is like sitting on the front porch at night watching a slow moving thunderstorm
OK if your reading this review you're likely to know something about Japanese literature. Kawabata stands alone with his haiku influenced prose. If your new to Kawabata you might think about starting with Thousand Cranes then Snow Country, then The Sound of the Mountain. Each I would recommend you read in small chunks savoring each bite. I would also recommend reading his stories twice. You'll be amazed at what you missed the first time. If your over 40, reflect sometimes about your life then this book has your name written all over it. Enjoy!

5-0 out of 5 stars Heaven knows I'm miserable now
It's funny how contemplative we get when we realize that the Fates are deciding whether or not to cut the thread to our life. We look back and question our existence: was the journey a good one, or did we waste it? Why did I marry him or her? Did my children turn out right? What is my legacy? What about my friends? What kind of lives did they leave behind? Why did they die before me? Why do I suddenly find my in-law a whole let sexier than I did a week ago? Ogata Shingo asks himself these questions when we meet him in The Sound of the Mountain. I've always had the fear that Shingo has; that the life I will lead will not have been fruitful. Not that I find my in-laws particularly sexy. His failures as a husband and father - he believes - are expressed in the marriages of his children (his son is having an affair at the start of the story, which forces his daughter-in-law to get an abortion, and his daughter married and later divorces a suicidal drug dealer). The sound of the mountain in the title was a sound he associates with death, and when he mentions it to his family the next day, his daughter-in-law reminds him of the time his wife's sister (his former love) passed away. Right before he learned the news of her passing, he heard the sound of the mountain. If you've ever felt the need to question your reality, The Sound of the Mountain is a good way to go. ... Read more

7. Beauty and Sadness
by Yasunari Kawabata
 Paperback: 206 Pages (1996-01-30)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679761055
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and poignant novel!
This is a fascinating and poignant novel about a doomed love affair between two characters, Oki and Otoko, that triggersfatal consequences for them both. In spite of his love, Oki has to leave Otaka after the death of their premature child and her breakdown. Twenty years after this event, he decides to meet her again, but this time, he has to meet Keiko too,Otoko's lover, who wants to seek revenge against him for having treated Otoko so badly many years ago.
This is a beautiful poetic story about passion and revenge and the complexity of human characters and relations.

Joyce Akesson, author of Love's Thrilling Dimensions, Majnun Leyla: Poems about Passion and The Invitation

4-0 out of 5 stars A bleak study of intertwined sexual relationships
"Beauty and Sadness" by Nobel Laureate Yasunari Kawabata and translated by Howard Hibbett is a slightly disappointing book after having just read "Snow Country" by the same writer, but a different translator.

I mention the translator because a non-Japanese speaker is totally dependent on the skill of the translator to capture the atmosphere, the nuances and the unspoken cultural aspects of the original Japanese.A literary work is as much about the imagery and musicality of the words and textural cadences as it is about immediate dictionary meanings.

It goes without saying that a straightforward translation of words and grammar would most likely give a very inadequate impression of the writer's intentions.This is true of any translation of fiction, not only this book.

"Beauty and Sadness" is a study of intertwined sexual relationships, all of them pathological to a greater or lesser degree.The central relationship is the 53 year-old Oki's renewed relationship (after 20 years) with Otoko whom he seduced and impregnated as a child of 16 and who still "loves" him.There is Otoko's lesbian relationship with Keiko - a very strange and disturbed young girl out for revenge against Oki - whom Oki also slept with.There is Keiko's relationship with Oki's son which leads to the climax of the book.Finally there is Oki's relationship with his wife who knows about all these goings on.The reader never knows who is using who and to what end.Got all that?

The relationships are only superficially about "love" - "hatred" would be a more apt word.Oki himself is a particularly distasteful character.He treats both Otoko and Keiko as objects and one wonders if he got any pleasure from either relationship.The rather explicit description of his "lovemaking" with Keiko is far from erotic.It creates feelings of repugnance which typify the interplay of love/hatred in the book.

This is a very bleak book, like "Snow Country" written 20 years earlier.It is relevant that Kawabata committed suicide.

5-0 out of 5 stars Art and suffering
Art needs fuel.Something does not come from nothing, and novelists and painters often draw from the wellspring of their own misery to create magnificence.Kawabata's final book, "Beauty and Sadness" explores these themes, of the interlinking of creativity and pain, and how artists use their own lives to make something grander.

Oki and Otoko are such artists, creating beauty from sadness.Their illicit and doomed love affair deeply wounded their souls, with the despair of their lost child lasting far longer than the brief time they spent together.Oki chronicles their story in his novel "A Sixteen Year Old Girl," and Otoko paints, continually seeking to exorcise her feelings and expressing them on canvas.

Alternately, Keiko and Taichiro create sadness from beauty. Oki's child, Taichiro, is drawn into a web of revenge woven by Otoko's lesbian lover and protege Keiko.Whereas Oki and Otoko have made an uneasy peace, Keiko refuses to let it rest, and wants to punish Oki by taking his child in the same way he took Otoko's.

Kawabata's skill at language portraiture is what makes this such a fine book, drawing the reader into the downward spiral of the character's lives.Anyone familiar with his writing knows where the path is going, but the skill of his craft tenders the sadness with beauty.It is a soulful journey, leaving one with a bitter taste and the reality of lost love.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty and Sadness
I love this book, I re-read this book in three different languages, and i'm reading it again the fourth times.

5-0 out of 5 stars Revenge
This was the seventh Yasunari Kawabata book that I have read and it is also my current favorite.

Kawabata weaves a wonderful story and its title describes it perfectly. The story begins with the writer Oki Toshio. In his younger days Oki had a love affair with a young girl named Otoko. Their affair produced a child, but unfortunately the child was born premature and died shortly after birth. The death of the child caused Otoko to suffer a nervous breakdown and she was put into a mental asylum. Her mother told Oki that Otoko would soon be better but it would probably be better if Oki did not see her again. Warp 20 or so years into the future. Oki decides to see Otoko again at New Years, so he hops a train to go see his ex lover. Otoko worried about Oki's arrival hires a couple of geisha to entertain them. Also her protoge Keiko is there. I believe Keiko to be the main character in the story.

Keiko is not only Otoko's student but her lover as well. Keiko is angered about how Oki treated Otoko so many years ago, and wants to seek revenge against her teacher's ex lover. Otoko still harbors a strong love for Oki but is not assured enough to keep Keiko from plotting against Oki. Keiko is extraordinarilly charming and beautiful, and although a lesbian she manipulates males very easily. She seduces Oki and his son Taichiro, the reader knows something bad is going to happen to Oki or one of his loved ones early on, and he or she just wonders how it will finally happen.

Another beautiful book by Kawabata. Few writers come close to his descriptions of landscapes or his very evocative writing of the human form. Very good book please read it. ... Read more

8. The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 176 Pages (1998-08-29)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1887178945
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Available again, a newly translated collection oftwenty-three stories from one of the most influential figures inmodern Japanese literature.

Yasunari Kawabata is widely known for his innovative short stories, some called "palm-of-the-hand" stories short enough to fit into ones palm. This collection reflects Kawabata's keen perception, deceptive simplicity, and the deep melancholy that characterizes much of his work. The stories were written between 1923 and 1929, and many feature autobiographical events and themes that reflect the painful losses he experienced early in his life. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Enchanting and poetical!!
"The Dancing Girl of Izu and other stories" is a collection of beautiful and poignant short stories. The title story is about a university student's travels who falls in love with a dancing girl. Some of the other stories depict Kawabata's relationship with his blind grandfather. The writing is enchanting and poetical. A beautiful read!

Joyce Akesson, author of Love's Thrilling Dimensions and The Invitation

5-0 out of 5 stars Exquisite
When Yasunari Kawabata won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the three works cited were his novels Thousand Cranes, The Old Capital, and Snow Country.His story "The Dancing Girl of Izu" is, in my opinion, the equal of any of his novels.Kawabata published the story in 1926, when he was twenty-six or twenty-seven years old, and there are autobiographical elements in it.

The story itself is superb, a coming of age story every bit as great as Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, although it couldn't be more different in tone.The rest of the book consists of other stories written between 1923 and 1929, and "Diary of My Sixteenth Year", an account of the time when Kawabata was caring for his dying grandfather, who had taken him in when Kawabata's parents died when he was three."Diary of My Sixteenth Year" is of primarily historical interest.The remaining twenty-one stories, all of them quite short, are quite good, as well.

I know no Japanese, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of J. Martin Holman's translation, but I can definitely say that he and Kawabata have together produced a work of great literature here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book Order
Great service. Condition of book was stellar and it was delivered in a very timely manner.

5-0 out of 5 stars A lonely view of love
This is an interesting mix of Yasunari Kawabata's early work, well before he was Japan's literary superstar, and well before the works that would ultimately win him the Nobel prize.The title story (I can't say titular, can I?) is of a college student's crush on the youngest member of a dancing troup.Most likely autobiographical, it leaves the reader sharing Kawabata's youthful loneliness.The second larger short story (there's no better way to describe it) is Diary of My Sixteenth Year, which covers the disappating love of a youth and his dying grandfather.

The remaining stories are much shorter, ranging from 3 to 10 pages each.Birthplace is an interesting story of abandonment and leaving one's home behind.Burning the Pine Boughs is as much about reading between the lines as reading what's on the page.Oil is a deep work of overcoming childhood loss.

Three common themes permeate these stories.First is the idea of an imperfect, sour or unatainable love.Second is the idea that at least somehow many of them are autobiographical.Third is that much is left unsaid in the stories.In a sense they are a prose form of Zen art, where what is unsaid can be more important than what is put to paper.Despite being distinct, one can read inferences between the stories (the hands for prayer in both Master of Funerals and Hands, for example) and perhaps that is enough to tie them all together.

Although Snow Country is commonly referred to as Kawabata's greatest accomplishment, these stories were more accessible and emotionally powerful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Innocence and love, age and death, riddles with no meaning
"The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories" is an odd collection of sorts, mixing an elegant, straight-forward short story together with some autobiography and a fluttering of palm-of-the-hand tales.Each element contributes a unique flavor, and a different facet of Kawabata's style.

J. Martin Holman proves himself again a master translator of Kawabata, retaining the flow and most importantly the feeling of the originals, far more than other translators I have read.The only flaw I found was that he splits the book into two sections, which I personally found a bit jarring.I think it more naturally flows into three distinct chapters.

"The Dancing Girl of Izu" is as fine a short story as you are likely to read anywhere.Every necessary element is contained, with no superfluous decoration.It is heartbreaking in its subtlety, and masterful in its craft. Everything important is unsaid. Kawabata can manipulate emotions so deeply using so little, leaving the reader with an aching emptiness as great as that of the narrator.Beautiful, and fully worth the cost of the collection alone.

"Diary of my Sixteenth Year," "Oil," "The Master of Funerals" and "Gathering Ashes" are four short autobiographical sketches of Kawabata's relationship with his only relative, a blind grandfather who would figure into several tales.Not factual per se, but true impressions.They present an intimate portrait of youth trying to understand the aged, of responsibility and resentment of responsibility, and of the numbness of death. The stories are presented as recovered diary accounts Kawabata wrote when he was 16, and they may be so.I believe the feelings, and that is enough.

The third section contains the 18 remaining unpublished palm-of-the-hand stories, Kawabata's personal trademark and contribution to literature.A page or three at the most, each story functions like a Zen koan, a story or riddle with no obvious meaning used as a contemplation tool by meditating monks to clear their minds and make them go hmmm...as they try to decipher. Koans have been called "extremely brief vignettes enabling the individual to hold entire universes of thought in mind all at once," and I think this sums it up nicely.Do not attempt to decipher these palm-of-the-hand stories, but instead read them and feel them and go hmm... ... Read more

9. The Lake
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 168 Pages (2004-07-08)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$7.42
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4770030010
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The Lake is the history of an obsession. It traces a man's sad pursuit of an unattainable perfection, a beauty out of reach, admired from a distance, unconsummated. Homeless, a fugitive from an ambiguous crime, his is an incurable longing that drives him to shadow nameless women in the street and hide in ditches as they pass above him, beautiful and aloof. For their beauty is not of this world, but of a dream-the voice of a girl he meets in a Turkish bath is "an angel's," the figures of two students he follows seem to "glide over the green grass that hid their knees." Reality is the durable ugliness that is his constant companion and is symbolized in the grotesque deformity of the hero's feet. And it is the irreconcilable nature of these worlds that explains the strangely dehumanized, shadowy quality of the eroticism that pervades this novel.

In a sense The Lake is a formless novel, a "happening," making it one of the most modern of all Kawabata's works. Just as the hero's interest might be caught by some passing stranger, so the course of the novel swerves abruptly from present to past, memory shades into hallucination, dreams break suddenly into daylight. It is an extraordinary performance of free association, made all the more astonishing for the skill with which these fragments are resolved within the completed tapestry. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Portrait of a Stalker
According to Donald Keene, The Lake (Mizuumi), and The House of Sleeping Beauties, represent Kawabata Yasunari at his most mature. It is not as well known as Snow Country but it is revelant today. Especially with the news showing countless stories of young girls being abducted by creepy looking pedohilies who become registered sex offenders. The Lake is a novel about the middle aged former school teacher named Gimpei, who spends his days stalking various women. Kawabata could judge his character but he shows a great deal of tact by painting a human portrait that allows the reader to make up their own mind. I like the fact that he's not preaching morals in this book.
The novel's strength is the way inwhich Kawabata uses time to move between periods of Gimpei's past. Kawabata does this so subtle and skillfully that, as a reader, you aren't really aware of it but you know that you have left the present for the moment. It is also interesting how Kawabata uses different colors through the text to create visuals that you can picture as you read along. I like the associations that exist in Gimpei's mind that show how far from reality he really is. For instance, a baby is crawling near him and he thinks its a dead baby that he abandoned years ago. This shows Kawabata's skill in writing psychological fiction. There are others examples of how Gimpei thinks he sees something that in reality turns out to be nothing to him but it causes Gimpei's mind to relate to objects and surroundings and regress into his past. In fact the whole novel is a regression into a happier time for Gimpei when he first fell in love at the lake.
Overall this is an entertaining and quick read that shows how one character decides to view his own reality which lead to his reaction to it. Gimpei is strange when you get inside his head to see what's clicking.
This is my first time reading Kawabata and next up for me is The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa.

4-0 out of 5 stars Minor Work
First, I'm going to agree with several other reviewers and say that this is not the best place to start if you're unfamiliar with Kawabata.My guess is that this novel, much like "Thousand Cranes", is probably unfinished.Kawabata was notorious about continuously rewriting and adding to fiction that had long been published, and "The Lake" ends so precariously and with so much unfinished business that I can't see how it can be considered whole and complete.The final chapter reads more like an outline than prose, and several of the major characters introduced in the middle of the novel never reappear again, which left me a little aggravated--because their story-line was more interesting to me than Gimpei's.

That said, I love Kawabata and there's enough in this novel to make it worth reading despite its glaring problems.Gimpei's behavior is erratic and difficult to fathom--one striking image illustrating this is a scene toward the end where he's hiding in a ditch waiting for a young girl he admires to pass by--as he sits waiting he notices a flower growing from a crack in the wall.He leans over and then eats the flower.Gimpei's life is full of these odd moments, and his mind wanders haphazzardly through the moments of his life making distant correlations between what was, what is, and what could never have been.

The book can be frustrating at times.Gimpei's free associations of memory with moment sometimes bog down the flow of the narrative, which left me feeling dioriented and unsatisfied.Some of the metaphor is a bit too opaque, even for Kawabata, while some of the metaphor is so striking that you wish you'd thought of it. There's also a lot here for such a small book--too much, and that causes the narrative to lose focus, I think.Kawabata seems to be throwing in all sorts of narrative threads to see what sticks--some interesting, some lame, and none of which ever reach any real resolution.

Overall, I'd say if you're a fan, read this.If you're new to Kawabata, start with "Sound of the Mountain" or "Snow Country".

5-0 out of 5 stars Penned with whetted description and passion
Compellingly written by Yasunari Kawabata (the author of the classic "Snow Country" and Japan's first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature), The Lake is the story of a stalker. He is homeless, fugitive from an unknown crime, and driven to trail the women he meets as he wanders. He longs for their beauty yet his desire remains unconsumated. The hallmark of free association that allows the reader to speculate upon human minds and motives is prevalent in "The Lake", a narrative that circulates back time and again to the body of water that forms its name and the people who live alongside it. Very highly recomended reading, The Lake is a rich literary experience penned with whetted description and passion.

5-0 out of 5 stars A voyage into the mind of a stalker of young girls
Lakes are mysteries, dark bodies of water that swallow secrets and hide those parts of ourselves better left submerged.Bodies are dumped in lakes, along with stolen cars and used weapons of violence. In "The Lake," Kawabata has used this metaphor for his protagonist, the unsettled and possibly psychotic Gimpei Momoi, who's mind swirls past and present and make-believe into one massive body of water, under which the corpse of his father lies sleeping.

It is hard to spend 160-odd pages in the mind of Gimpei, stalker and luster of young girls.His story fluxuates constantly, changing in an instant from his childhood desire for his cousin Yayoi, to his disastrous affair with his High School student Hisako, to his pursuit of the pure 15-year old Machie, or the bath house girl with the voice of an angel. Interspersed roughly with this mix is the tale of Miyako, a sad beauty who sold her youth to an old man for money.Gimpei's thoughts are those of his nature, a dark and lonely pursuer navigating the unlit corners and ditches of other's worlds, a dangerous and haggard animal prowling the fence.

Kawabata's technique used in "The Lake" is quite experimental, and different from his more-famous works.Aside from the dark story, elements of which can be found in most Kawabata, the shifting narrative and abrupt transitions and endings can be off-putting to those expecting a more naturally flowing story.Personally, I found the jump-cuts and unresolved nature of the writing to be complementary to the tale of Gimpei, with the overall effect leaving me uncomfortable and uneasy with the world, which is the stories goal.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Tangled Web
Another of Kawabata's masterpieces, The Lake is even less structured than his other work. Told through a series of shifting narrators, the story mainly concerns Gimpei, on the run from the law for an unknown crime. We become intimately acquainted with Gimpei, who turns out to be a real creep: he spends most of his time following beautiful women. Though flashbacks that are carefully woven in to the narrative, we learn Gimpei past: his unrequited love for his cousin Yayori, his destructive affair with his student Hisako, and his possessive madness - he would rather have the objects of his affection dead than with another. The books shifts it's focus slightly at times, turning to the people who come into contact with Gimpei, and revealing how closely connected they all are without even realizing it. It is this tangled web of relationships, both direct and indirect, that make this work so enjoyable. A wonderful book, although some readers may find the character of Gimpei so repugnant that they may abandon the book before it's finish. ... Read more

10. Japan the Beautiful and Myself
by Yasunari Kawabata
 Paperback: 78 Pages (1981-09)
list price: US$3.95 -- used & new: US$152.33
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0870110888
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Japan the Beautiful and Myself
I have an old copy of Japan the Beautiful and Myself.Kawabata's Nobel acceptance speech is especially moving, and I wanted to give a copy of the book to my daughter for Christmas.Since it's out of print, the only option was a used book.The copy I ordered for her was like new and arrived in a timely manner. ... Read more

11. The Master of Go
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 208 Pages (1996-05-28)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$5.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679761063
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (20)

3-0 out of 5 stars Amusing if you like Go, but otherwise pass on it
A fascinating read from another age and culture. I'm not sure if it will carry the same weight if the reader is not a Go player or interested in Japanese/Asian culture. However, for those that are this book contains the struggle of the retirement match of the then master of Go. The game goes on for several months during which the battlefield is carried into many mental arenas besides the board as the players have spats about conditions and terms. It ends poignantly with a later meeting between the master and reporter. The master dies during the night leaving the reporter in a dejected state, wondering if he should have accepted the dinner invitation.

4-0 out of 5 stars History Seen Through a Game
The novel is based on a 1938 Go match on which Kawabata reported for the Mainichi newspapers, as the narrator Uragami does in the story. It details the defeat of the reigning Go Master Shusai in his final retirement match. Otake, the challenger, is a much younger player, who belongs to a different world than that of the Master.

In his introduction, translator Edward Seidensticker points out that the character of the Master is quite different from that of the actual go Master on whom Shusai is based. Kawabata has made him out to be a tragic figure. For Kawabata, he represents traditional Japan, which was under siege at the time this match was played.

"It may be said that the master was plagued in his last match by modern rationalism, to which fussy rules were everything, from which all the grace and elegance of Go as art had disappeared, which quite dispensed with respect for elders and attached no importance to mutual respect as human beings. From the way of Go the beauty of Japan and the Orient had fled. Everything had become science and regulation." (p. 52)

"In that figure walking absently from the game there was the still sadness of another world. The Master seemed like a relic left behind by Meiji." (p.63)

Much of the story concerns the various moves made by the players and is thus lost for the most part on those with no knowledge of the game. Near the end Otake makes some moves that are apparently radical, and the Master reacts as if this were a personal affront, actually growing angry. With his loss, one is given to understand, the world of go passes from its traditional past into a new and perhaps troubling era of modernism, belonging to a younger generation. The story thus echoes a theme that pervades all of Kawabata's work.

3-0 out of 5 stars Books a Go
This book is for the Go fanatic a really slow sometimes boring read but a wealth of information on how the go masters play the game of go. 3 1/2 stars

5-0 out of 5 stars THE MASTER OF GO
Go is an Asian game of strategy.Two players using black and white balls fight for control of the board, while bock the other the player's control.
This is book is an early example of creative nonfiction.Kawabatta wrote this book basing it on a Go Match he covered when he was reporter.He included diagrams of the players' positions as the game progresses.The reader does not need to know a lot about Go to follow the game

The book is about the passing of an era in Japan.It is a battle between the old and young; tradition and the modern worldIt gives a good view of Japanese society. Be sure to read thefootnotesat the back.

Go is an Asian game of strategy.Two players using black and white balls fight for control of the board, while bock the other the player's control.
This is book is an early example of creative nonfiction.Kawabatta wrote this book basing it on a Go Match he covered when he was reporter.He included diagrams of the players' positions as the game progresses.The reader does not need to know a lot about Go to follow the game

The book is about the passing of an era in Japan.It is a battle between the old and young; tradition and the modern worldIt gives a good view of Japanese society. Be sure to read thefootnotesat the back.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Butterfly in an Early Snow
Your 'humble reviewer' is subject to impulsive reading. I've been feasting on the strong flavors of novels by Kenzaburo Ooe and Robert Bolaño - tough fibers of frenzy and obsession - and I suddenly found myself remembering Kawabata. I first read The Master of Go in the early 1970s, after I'd begun playing Go myself. One thing led to another; I started practicing the Japanese flute, the shakuhachi. Then I began learning Japanese, and then Japanese styles of brush calligraphy. Finally, in the 1980s, I went to Japan for a year of immersion.

Ooe and Kawabata both won the Nobel Prize. Kawabata and Yukio Mishima were reputed to be close friends, and both committed suicide. All three were psychologically devastated by Japan's crushing defeat in WW2 and by the 'disgraceful' submission of Japanese culture to Western influences during and after the Occupation. Only Mishima took the lurid path of nationalistic recrudescence, but all three could be superficially categorized as 'reactionaries' from a pro-modernist point of view.

Kawabata's style of writing is the polar opposite of Oe's. In Kawabata, silence is tension, immobility is excitation, not speaking tells much. The famous swept-pebble Zen garden might serve as an image of Kawbata's prose. A English translation can scarcely suggest the 'tea ceremony' restraint of Kawabata's writing in Japanese. His vocabulary of "kanji" -- the Chinese characters used for writing classical Japanese -- is daunting. That's the reason I gave up; I recognized that I couldn't pragmatically afford the time to learn 20,000 kanji, any more than I could devote myself to mastery of Go. So, although I blundered through a few pages of "Snow Country" in Japanese, with a lot of help, I have to content myself with reading Kawabata, Ooe, Tanizaki - some of the greatest writers of the 20th C - in bumbling English.

The Master of Go is a "shoosetsu", a word usually translated as 'novel'. Probably a broader word - 'narrative' or 'account' - would be more accurate. In 1938, just as he describes in this book, Kawabata-san was assigned to write newspaper accounts of a Go match between a venerated master, considered invincible, and a far younger player whose style and manner were abrasive to the older niceties of a ritualized, ceremonious intellectual combat. After the war, Kawabata-san reshaped and slightly fictionalized his accounts, and published the first version of this shoosetsu in 1951. Perhaps it might best be understood as a "non-fiction novel".

The 'combat' described in The Master of Go involves hours and hours of sitting on one's heels, dressed in traditional robes according to one's rank as a player, hunched over a board on the tatami floor of a salon in which every aesthetic detail is part of the game. In Go, the players set white and black stones, one at a time, on a board criss-crossed by parallel lines forming 181 points. The stones are not moved, and the board becomes an intricate pattern of black and white, with an austere beauty that only a initiate of the game can comprehend. The game recounted in this shoosetsu ends after the 237th stone is placed, and after ten sessions in various inns over a period of months. The challenger - black stones - is the winner, as we readers have known since the beginning of the account. All suspense is merely a quality in the two players, to be observed by us without interference.

If you've never played Go, you'll be able to follow the account of the player's psychological struggle, but I doubt you'll experience the book very deeply. The narrator, Kawabata under a pseudonym, claims not to be very knowledgeable himself, but his reactions of surprise and wonder at certain moves during the game betray the fact that he is adhering to a Japanese cultural norm of self-denigration.

The prospect of World War 2 is never mentioned, though in the latter chapters of the book the Japanese invasion of China becomes a topic of significance.Still, many readers have taken this Go match to be a parable of the conflict between the old imperial Japan and the outside world, or rather the post-war westernized Japan. It's not so simple, in that the narrator shows -- dare I say? -- an Oriental ability to admire and mourn both sides.

Final advice? Read one of Kawabata's other books first: Snow Country, Thousand Cranes, Sound of the Mountain, and Beauty and Sadness are all available in English, and are more approachable than The Master of Go. If you find any of them enjoyable, you'll know what to do.
... Read more

12. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (Kodansha's Illustrated Japanese Classics)
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 180 Pages (1998-09-16)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$21.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 4770023294
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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An Oriental classic retold by a Nobel Prize winner, with modern illustrations. An early Helan-period (794-1185) prose work about a supernatural being found by a bamboo cutter and brought up as his daughter. Text is presented in bilingual Japanese-English format alongside original, full-color kiri-e paper cut-out illustrations. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Story
Originally a pick for a Final Presentation in my World Literature class, my group and I read this book and not only found it more exciting than other epics in class, but the instructor enjoyed it as well. This story helped us get a perfect in class not because of the nearly-flawless presentation and resources, but because it was different and introduces romantic literature in a whole different perspective than other stories such as Gilgamesh, and the Iliad (typical epics often presented). It also breaks the boundaries as evidence that other countries such as Japan do have their own literary work. A must buy also for Asian Studies students like myself. The size of the book may be intimidating, but in reality one side of the pages is in Japanese (simply translated) and the other in English (compromised translation).

3-0 out of 5 stars Alright, but not earth shatteringly good
`The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter' like `Love Songs from the Man'yôshû' has also been illustrated by the highly talented Miyata Masayuki. Though there were not enough pictures in `The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter' which is a pity as it would have been an excellent opportunity for Miyata to display his talent.
As for the story itself well, it's certainly different from most fairy tales in that the heroine is in many ways a villain, the only other similar character would be Princess Turandot... Aside from that it is not an especially interesting story.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magnificent in every respect
The book is lovely. The artwork is beautiful and printed in beautiful vivid colours. The book makes one wish to save up to try to purchase artwork by the artist, Masayuki Miyata (not because the illustrations in the book are in any way not fully satisfying but because they are so incredible).Keene's translation is, as one would expect, wonderful.It is also wonderful to have the Japanese as well as Keene's English translation, another very attractive aspect of this book for the person receiving it as a gift. As the book contains a translation from the traditional story into modern Japanese by the Nobel laureate in literature Yasunari Kawabata a student wishing to read the Japanese need not be concerned about struggling to read Ancient Japanese.

Even though it is described a 'paperback' it is a very high quality book that feels as if it has been made with care to last a long time.This is a time when I wish I could give extra stars to indicate an utterly extraordinary book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Clearing the Bamboo
There's some confusion in the earlier reviews. Keene has translated the early 10th-century Japanese tale (with the original on facing pages), NOT Kawabata's modern version, which is printed in back in Japanese (no translation). I also have to take issue with the Amazon reviewer's use of "heartlessness" to describe the main character. She's not of this earth, and consequently can't marry anyone: her actions are taken to spare the feelings of others, not out of heartlessness. (She's got plenty of heart for her adopted parents.) The tale is a wonderful example of early Japanese literature, and the art is gorgeous. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars A subtle blend of story and art
This is an elegant package. The story is a classic Japanese folktale interpreted by one of Japan's greatest writers.A cautionary tale about love between humans and spirits,it is a well paced story, calm and quiet like a new moon. The text is balanced with the original Japanese script on one side and the English translation on the other. Interspersed though out are beautiful paper-cut illustrations. "Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" is very much a piece of book art.

The only drawback of this edition is the size. It is small, and would have benefited from a hard-backed coffee table edition. As it is, it is too fragile to be a child's book. ... Read more

13. First Snow on Fuji
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 248 Pages (2000-11-10)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$3.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1582431051
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The stories of Yasunari Kawabata (Winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize for Literature) evoke an unmistakably Japanese atmosphere in their delicacy, understatement, and lyrical description. Like his later works, First Snow on Fujiis concerned with forms of presence and absence, with being, with memory and loss of memory, with not-knowing. Kawabata lets us slide into the lives of people who have been shattered by war, loss, and longing. These stories are beautiful and melancholy, filled with Kawabata's unerring vision of human psychology. First Snow on Fuji was originally published in Japan in 1958, ten years before Kawabata received the Nobel Prize. Kawabata selected the stories for this collection himself, and the result is a stunning assembly of disparate moods and genres. This new edition is the first to be published in English.Amazon.com Review
Although he was the first Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize, YasunariKawabata (1899-1972) remains much more obscure in the West than hishigh-profile protégé Yukio Mishima. Yethe's a writer of formidable talents. For one thing, Kawabata recognizedearly on the affinity between Japanese poetry--with its abrupt transitionfrom image to image--and the jump-cut flavor of modernist prose. He alsoexplored erotic life at a truly microcosmic level. Some may find a novellike The Mole--which revolves around a woman's habit of fiddlingwith her eponymous birthmark--a little too molecular in itsapproach. But sex, like God, is in the details, and throughout his careerKawabata has unearthed some surprising truths about our most urgentappetites.

First Snow on Fuji, a collection of stories originally published in1958, is a fairly representative slice of the author's oeuvre. In "HerHusband Didn't" (a classic Kawabata title, by the way), a woman's earlobe becomes the discreet object of desire:

The earlobe was just as round and plump as an earlobe ought to be--it wassmall enough that Junji could squeeze it between the tips of his thumb andforefinger, no bigger than that--yet it filled him with a sense of thebeauty of life. The smooth skin, the gentle swelling--the woman's earlobewas like a mysterious jewel.... He had never known anything with a texturelike this. It was like touching the lovely girl's soul.
For Kawabata's characters, the physical usually leads straight to themetaphysical, which is what prevents him from deteriorating into asoft-core thrill merchant. And in several of the other stories here, heproceeds directly to the weightier issues. "Silence," for example, is atonce a study in failing inspiration and a gloss on Kawabata's own career(the latter argument is made very effectively by translator MichaelEmmerich in his introduction). And the title story offers an intriguingtake on memory, which Kawabata seems to regard as a distinctly feminineoperation: it's "the docility of women that makes it possible for them toreturn to the past."

What we love most in a writer--the idiosyncratic music of his or herprose--is the hardest thing for a translator to capture. There are times,alas, when Emmerich's ear seems inadequate to the task. His rendering neverfalls beneath a certain literate level--but for a writer of Kawabata'sminimalistic delicacy, a clunky transition or flatfooted phrase can sinkthe whole enterprise. Readers might prefer to start, then, withThousand Cranes or Snow Country. But for allits linguistic flaws, First Snow on Fuji reminds us that inliterature most of all, less can be more--much more.--James Marcus ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Tightly written, surprisingly modern
Having read and loved all of Kawabata's long stories and none of his short ones, I approached this book with considerable trepidation. There are some authors like Camus who are equally good in both forms and some others (to remain nameless) who I find are good in one style, but not the other.

However, 'First Snow on Fuji' turned out to be from the classic Kawabata mold. I liked Silence, but I liked the 'boat-women' better (I have always been drawn to the story of the battle of Danno Ura, since I heard it originally from Carl Sagan's Cosmos at the age of ten) and 'Seamless stupas' and the Row of trees. The themes are surprisingly modern (this country, that country), given from Kawabata's unique insight into human consciousness. Definitely a book for the aficionado.

5-0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable
A few words transport you into a hidden world of the heart. This fine translation of Kawabata's prose makes each of these short stories resonate like Haiku long after you close the pages of the book.

3-0 out of 5 stars So-so on Fuji
"First Snow on Fuji" is a mixed bag.I enjoy Kawabata's succinct prose.One story, 'Silence', is tremendous, and worth the price of the book by itself.It's about a writer who, b/c of a stroke, can no longer speak or write, and his daughter; and the main point of the story is whether or not the writer, Akifusa, should try to communicate through his daughter or not.It's a grand statement on the human power of communication.The other stories, though interesting, are not as good - and for that I give it a mediocre rating.

4-0 out of 5 stars Inner heart revealed................
Yasunari Kawabata is the first Japanese writer to be awarded the Noble Prize for Literature.First Snow on Fuji is a collection of short stories written in a minimalist fashion, where each word and turn of phrase carries a depth and profoundness.It feels as if each word is uniquely suited to the telling of that particulartale.The stories cover a vast array of life's events, love, desire, loss and discovery. It is not that the inner hearts of the characters are revealed to the reader, but that the reader is allowed to observe while the characters inner hearts are revealed to themselves.
Michael Emmerich translates the writing of Kawabata with a perfect blend of both elegance and simplicity.This is a classic Japanese collection of short stories by an author with the delicate touch of perfection.

4-0 out of 5 stars Concentrated Novels, Just Add Water
This is a fine collection of short stories by Kawabata. These are longer than his "Palm of the Hand" stories but still display to the full his incredible talent to suggest a whole large-scale novel with the barest minimum of words and phrases. The deep suggestiveness and resonance typical of Kawabata is present in these brief works, though somewhat more flat-footed than elsewhere--one wonders if this is an effect of translation or whether Kawabata was a just a wee bit off his game here.

This collection also includes a rarity, a drama by Kawabata, which comes across as incredibly flat, wooden, and dull. It seems that drama was not a medium suited to him, although perhaps the play works well when actually performed--many a Kabuki play looks lame on paper but comes alive on the stage. But as it stands it seems an awkward ending to an otherwise fine collection of stories. This is not Kawabata at his best, but quite good still. ... Read more

14. Soundings in Time: The Fictive Art of Yasunari Kawabata (Japan Library)
by Roy Starrs
Hardcover: 247 Pages (1998-10-05)
list price: US$195.00 -- used & new: US$142.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1873410743
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Product Description
This first full length, and long overdue, study of Kawabata, Japans first Nobel laureate for literature and the most widely known for his novels Snow Country (1960) and Sound of the Mountain (1970). ... Read more

15. Le Lac
by Yasunari Kawabata
Mass Market Paperback: 125 Pages (1985-06-01)
-- used & new: US$15.99
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Asin: 2253036889
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16. Three Modern Novelists: Soseki, Tanizaki, Kawabata (Kodansha Biographies)
by Van C. Gessel
 Paperback: 207 Pages (1993-02)
list price: US$10.00 -- used & new: US$35.00
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Asin: 4770016522
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This volume traces the lives and careers of three literary giants and their varying responses to Japan's increasing internationalization. ... Read more

17. House of the Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 160 Pages (2004-02-06)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.85
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Asin: 4770029756
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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From Japan's first Nobel laureate for literature, three superb stories exploring the interplay between erotic fantasy and reality in a loner's mind.

"He was not to do anything in bad taste, the woman of the house warned old Eguchi. He was not to put his finger into the mouth of the sleeping girl, or try anything else of that sort." With his promise to abide by the rules, Eguchi begins his life as a member of a secret club for elderly gentlemen who have lost their sexual powers. At an inn several hours from Tokyo they indulge in their last pleasure: lying with beautiful young girls who are sleeping nude when the men arrive. As "House of the Sleeping Beauties" unfolds in Kawabata's subtle prose, the horrified reader comes to see that the sexual excitement is a result not of rejuvenescence, but of a flirtation with death.

The three stories presented in this volume all center upon a lonely protagonist and his peculiar eroticism. In each, the author explores the interplay of fantasy and reality at work on a mind in solitude-in "House of the Sleeping Beauties," the elderly Eguchi and his clandestine trips to his club; in "One Arm," the bizarre dialogue of a man with the arm of a young girl; in "Of Birds and Beasts," a middle-aged man's memories of an affair with a dancer mingled with glimpses of his abnormal attachment to his pets.

All of these stories appear in English for the first time outside of Japan. "Of Birds and Beasts," written in the early 1930's, is one of Kawabata's earlier works, while "One Arm" and "House of the Sleeping Beauties," the latter hailed by novelist Yukio Mishima as the best of Kawabata's works, are among his later works. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars Creepy.
I enjoyed the writing style, poetic and eerie. But the overall creepiness kinda got to me. I knew what I would get going into this, but I couldn't read the whole thing myself, just the first story. I would, however recommenced the book if for no other reason to push your boundaries.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beauty and Death
By all means read the stories when you're young. The exquisitely sparse prose, even in translation, takes on the plasticity of Japanese pottery.

But the full impact of the book--especially the lead story--would only be felt with a little aging. Once, I would have considered the actions of the vampish old men despicable. Now I empathize with their quiet desperation.

In House Of Sleeping Beauties, beauty and death lie side by side in the same room. Old Eguchi, the protagonist, resuscitates the remnants of his youthful sexuality in physically manipulating sleeping girls like inflatable dolls. The one-way communication both excites and repulses him.

Eguchi and his horde of old companions descend upon the hapless girls with fangs creeping out from every pore of their skin. Like eunuchs, they substitute their impotence with sexual aggression of mind and spirit. The withered, rotting flesh of the old men press against the fragrantly smooth skin of the young girls, sucking life out of them through osmos-synthesis. It's an act drenched with desperation and vulgarity. But this clinging on to life at all costs is a basic fact of existence. Life feeds on life.

Read the stories when you're older and feel a shiver run down your spine.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love and Death
These strange and haunting stories of strange love are written with a disturbingly quiet and even hand. It's a genius read. Kawabata is the master of beautiful disaffection. His characters do not feel pain when you think they should, and one recoils, but is drawn back in to the stories. At the core of Kawabata's work is a pessimism about the value of life itself-even while the protagonists are involved in secret obsessions. Fascinating, beautifully written, haunting.

4-0 out of 5 stars Pushing the envelope
This is an excellent story, although it is a little different from much of Kawabata's work.I gave this book four stars only because of the bizarre nature of the "other" stories.The main story is outstanding, written with wonderful detail and descriptive prose.It is an intriguing story that will hold your attention until the end.It is well worth purchasing the book for that story alone.Kawabata has a way of examining human feelings and exposing those elements that are common to all people.His characters often have me visualizing concrete individuals that I have known, including myself.I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a touch of eroticism that stimulates both the higher and lower recesses of human nature.I would caution readers that the introduction by Yukio Mishima contains spoiler material, and should perhaps be read after reading the first story.

5-0 out of 5 stars The terror of lust by the approach of death
Kawabata's magisterial short novel is a beautiful but sad reverie about life and death, young and old, sex and coming impotence.

Sleeping with sleeping girls ('a deathlike sleep') was 'a fleeting consolation, the pursuit of a vanished happiness in being alive.'
'The sleeping beauties are for an old man the recovery of life, but also a sadness ... that called up a longing for death. The aged have death and the young have love, and death comes once, and love comes over and over again.'

Kawabata's writing is subtle (the old man is tempted to breach the house rules) and intimistic (the descriptions of the ethereal bodies of the sleeping virgins).
But, as the great Japanese writer Yukio Mishima expresses it perfectly in his introduction, this book is a pregnant reflection on 'the terror of lust by the approach of death.'
A masterpiece. ... Read more

18. Kawabata Yasunari: Nihon no bigaku (Nihon bungaku kenkyu shiryo shinshu) (Japanese Edition)
 Hardcover: 268 Pages (1990)

Isbn: 4640309767
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19. Naissance d'un ecrivain: Etude sur Kawabata Yasunari (Bibliotheque de l'Institut des hautes etudes japonaises) (French Edition)
by Yuko Brunet
 Paperback: 154 Pages (1982)

Isbn: 2901795153
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20. Pais de nieve/ Snow Country (Spanish Edition)
by Yasunari Kawabata
Paperback: 158 Pages (2008-10-30)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$27.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9500424509
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