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If you like a ski read instead of a beach read, this is for you The setting is the western mountain slopes of northern Japan, one of the snowiest regions of the world up to 15 feet of winter snow is common In the town, the overhangs of buildings over the sidewalks form a tunnel through the snow in winter.We are told in the translator s Introduction that the snow country geisha catering to the ski lodge and hot spring clientele in winter are second class geisha compared to the urban geish If you like a ski read instead of a beach read, this is for you The setting is the western mountain slopes of northern Japan, one of the snowiest regions of the world up to 15 feet of winter snow is common In the town, the overhangs of buildings over the sidewalks form a tunnel through the snow in winter.We are told in the translator s Introduction that the snow country geisha catering to the ski lodge and hot spring clientele in winter are second class geisha compared to the urban geisha in Japan In fact they are considered almost social outcasts and come close to being just prostitutes at least that was the case in the 1930 s, the time of this story The setting is one of cold loneliness The literary style matches the setting It is written in prose but using the haiku style, terse and austere, due to the limitation of words and the use of opposites and contrasts You quickly see all the references to black hair against the white snow and darkness against sunlight, distant music against stillness darkness and wasted beauty as the main character says in regard to his favorite geisha There isn t a lot of plot Our main character is a middle aged man who is independently wealthy just a dilettante who piddles around and yet a recurring theme is that he comments on the geisha s wasted efforts in reading and learning or practicing her music as she tries to improve herself The other main character is the geisha who hasor less fallen in love with this man Of course he is married with kids in Tokyo but he can still be her sugar daddy, so to speak As she gets on in years, her goal is to find a man who will set her up in a business when she is no longer a geisha in demand She has had two other older men in her life the first was an old man who paid off all her debts and then died The way the geisha system works is that she signs a contract for a set amount with the ski lodge for a period of years and pays the lodge back out of her earnings She is selective in offering herself to men and much of her earnings come from entertaining groups of men at parties by serving tea, playing music and dancing The second man is also an old man who is still around and the main character wonders what her relationship is to him A passage I liked The man was clearly ill, however, and illness shortens the distance between a man and a woman There is a lot in the book about the coolness of the special Japanese fabric called chijimi, and how it is laboriously made It s a white fabric that is dyed by exposure to the sun on top of the snow This is still true here is a short National Geographic video about it The book is a pretty good read but slow I liked his novel First Snow on Fuji better The author was the first Japanese winner of the Nobel Prize for literature 1968 Photos from top to bottom japantimes.co.jpsnowbrains.commaisondexceptions.com turn this way I too feel lonelylate in autumnBasho s Haiku As if on a winter s night a traveler, travels to a distant land, where the snow falls even on the maple leaves Where lovers part to meet and meet to part Where love is nothing but a mirrored reality or a fogged illusion Where one heart has room only for the pleasure of regaining what had been lost and another voice is so beautiful that it s almost lonely and sad Where some deaths are tiny but invoke immense poetry and several lives turn this way I too feel lonelylate in autumnBasho s Haiku As if on a winter s night a traveler, travels to a distant land, where the snow falls even on the maple leaves Where lovers part to meet and meet to part Where love is nothing but a mirrored reality or a fogged illusion Where one heart has room only for the pleasure of regaining what had been lost and another voice is so beautiful that it s almost lonely and sad Where some deaths are tiny but invoke immense poetry and several lives struggle to find meaning between the lines of a haiku Where eyes reflect the desperation of an intermittent wait and doors are opened for expected unexpected arrivals Where powdered face of a Geisha has a ruddy complexion underneath and hair is sometimes let loose to free oneself Where questions are difficult and answers are complicated Where fire is both a saint and a sinner Where stars are burned and the beauty of Milky Way comes alive in its entire splendor Where Hellos and Goodbyes arrive like the seasons of a year Where nature sings and humans dance Where it s easy to find oneself and easier to lost oneself For a little less and a lot , Snow Country is where one needs to visit I am white, mostly And cold And occasionally, weeping But you don t see my tears, for they run down the stream and lose their essence at the prolonged kiss of the first sun But I do not mind I come alive to die I bulk up to surrender I appear to vanish But I, too, have admirers Admirers, who eye ephemeral beauty with a stinging lacquer of depleting life, colluding their vision with a bagful of clouded vignettes stroking the air that arises after all is consumed and lost Visiting Japan I am white, mostly And cold And occasionally, weeping But you don t see my tears, for they run down the stream and lose their essence at the prolonged kiss of the first sun But I do not mind I come alive to die I bulk up to surrender I appear to vanish But I, too, have admirers Admirers, who eye ephemeral beauty with a stinging lacquer of depleting life, colluding their vision with a bagful of clouded vignettes stroking the air that arises after all is consumed and lost Visiting Japan in 1935, I met Kawabata san He whispered in my drifter ears that he wished to nestle a story under my frosty silhouette I cast a doubtful glance at him and asked Are you sure I am no spring and I am no sun In my lap, tears appeartenacious than smiles And in my heart, I imprison love stories that untangle into laborious passion, reverberating in their incomplete destinies of intertwined desires but scattered existences Your decision to drop your child in my tutelage may mar its chances of gaining an empathetic visitor But he ran his hand on my granular head and said Be assured wasted love is still love, after all I eventually agreed to take his characters in my country So came, Shimamura and Komako, Yoko and Yukio You don t need to know who they are since all lovers in my country appear the same And this Japan was still under the wreck of unequal rights of labour and dignity But if you insist, I will oblige Shimamura was groping for new vistas after a regular life had clutched him tight and Komako was a young geisha who equated new horizons to the skyline that inebriated my edges When I saw them the first time, they were well equipped to escape my mirthful sorrow Shimamura was indulgent without emotion and Komako was wishful without goals But alas I am such a wretched stage people step on me and forget the rest I kept telling them I am the soft soil that sinks with repeated stamping but the duo, perplexed under the hypnotic rhythm of my robust sheets, dripping body and glistening air paid no heed to my cries Intoxicated, they spent nights under my shadows and burnt lamps to spring reflections in my eyes they held their rage and admiration under the chilling blanket I sent their way they fought their jealousies when I subdued to let the sun cast a scarlet veil on Yoko, the lovely girl who never got bewitched under my spell and they darted viscous glances through my flakes at each pondering pause, rippled from Yukio s disintegration Both returned at my every appearance like faithful regulars but the unfulfilled rooms of their lives refused to open to a common hall Whether other people tricked them into acts they did not intend to commit I am afraid not I suspect when I melt, I steal a part of those who hold me in their eyes and at each return, I bind the stolen things in threads of melancholy despite my intention to dye them in colors of happiness I can t help it my whiteness, under nature s exponents of aggravation, assimilates all spunk and disperses a reeling blankness unmatched by any buoyant avalanche.But Kawabata san was a mature man for when he placed his characters in my world, he also slipped many lyrical skates bearing the mark of mono no aware, handing a robust sailing to his creations and effectively annulling the threats posed by the steep boulders of unrequited love, unfathomable concern, unstoppable heartbeats and unmanageable bonds, compounded further under the burden of my heavy, stoic breathing He won my heart by comprehending the little corners of my country with a sagacity comparable to someone born in my womb and chiseled them gently to accentuate their hidden beauties So, the next time someone alights from a rickety train on a faint evening into a land bearing my stamp for as far as the eyes go, he will extend his arms in anticipation of an embrace that will not congeal his thoughts but would set them in riveting motion, softly swaying them in the gust of impermanent realities and navigating them into thewarm kotatsuof permanent memoirs Rating 3.5 of fiveThe Publisher Says Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata s Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer s masterpiece a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcom Rating 3.5 of fiveThe Publisher Says Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata s Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer s masterpiece a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome In chronicling the course of this doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages a stunning novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.My Review Married, bored but I repeat myself aesthete, philanderer, and fl neur Shimamura, an aficionado of Western ballet although he s never seen one , takes a solo trip into Japan s Snow Country While there in the wildest of boondocks Japan possesses, he meets Komako, probably the world s worst geisha, but apparently a fascinating contrast to all other women for Shimamura They meet a total of three times in two years Another woman, Yoko, hovers purposelessly around the narrative until, for no apparent reason, Komako and Shimamura have a fight over his feelings for Yoko, who for some reason nursed Komako s not quite fiance Yukio while he died, despite the fact that Komako indentured herself to the apparently quite unsuitable career of geisha to pay for his death expenses.Then a fire breaks out and Komako runs into the burning building and saves Yoko while Shimamura stands there and looks up at the sky Fin No, seriously.I spent the entire month I was reading this book, all 175pp of it, alternately claustrophobic and bemused WTF, I kept thinking, why am I still at this rock pile, trying to winkle out some small purpose to the narrative then along would come a gem, eg It was a stern night landscape The sound of the freezing of snow over the land seemed to roar deep into the earth There was no moon The stars, almost too many of them to be true, came forward so brightly that it was as if they were falling with the swiftness of the void.p44, Vintage ed., trans SeidenstickerOh wow, I thought, and plowed on And on And on Every damn time Komako exhibits what today we d call a bipolar break exacerbated by alcohol abuse, I d find myself thinking, This damned book is Come Back, Little Sheba directed by Kurosawa Seriously Shirley Booth did the same bloody role in that movie, only Burt Lancaster whose role as her husband bewitched by a younger woman was pretty much exactly like Shimamura is the one who drank.I drank a good bit myself, trudging ever onward, marching off to war with the cross of Jesus going on before okay, I m a piss poor Christian soldier, but you get the sense of futility I was experiencing Then, it happened.He had stayed so long that one might wonder whether he had forgotten his wife and children He stayed not because he could not leave Komako nor because he did not want to He had simply fallen into the habit of waiting for those frequent visits And thecontinuous the assault became, thehe began to wonder what was lacking in him, what kept him from living as completelyAll of Komako came to him, but it seemed that nothing went out from him to her He heard in his chest, like snow piling up, the sound of Komako, an echo beating against empty walls And he knew he could not go on pampering himself forever pp154 155So there is a point to this hike And a profound one The sudden awakening of human feeling in an otherwise dead heart It was a payoff, and a major one But did it have to be such a Bataan Death March of a journey to get here And the stupid ass last line of the book, which made me so bloody angry that I began raining curses on the lady whose idea it was our book circle read the book INFURIATINGLY SOPHOMORICALLY PORTENTOUS, I shrieked The dog ran away from me The same dog who, at an earlier moment in my tossing about of the book, expressed her opinion of it by fanging the corner She calmed down after I did, but reallydoes one want to read this book I won t do it again But, on balance and after sleeping on it, I m glad that I did Bash s evocative haiku is referenced by the end of the book, as one of the characters contemplates small drops of fire that, in contrast to the quiet atmosphere of a country made of snow, were floating in the air, ablaze with fury and disenchantment, sheltered by the absolute splendour of the Milky Way The sublimeness of a firmament under which existence manifests itself in the shape of beauty and sadness As always, Bash depicted an entire universe in three li Bash s evocative haiku is referenced by the end of the book, as one of the characters contemplates small drops of fire that, in contrast to the quiet atmosphere of a country made of snow, were floating in the air, ablaze with fury and disenchantment, sheltered by the absolute splendour of the Milky Way The sublimeness of a firmament under which existence manifests itself in the shape of beauty and sadness As always, Bash depicted an entire universe in three lines Trifling matters and existential crisis coexist under the breathtaking vastness of a starry night They live, they breathe quietly, in raptures They are likely to sink in the rough, turbulent sea Tolerating the company of others or facing a self imposed solitude, like the disgraced inhabitants of Sado Island Above all these relevant and mundane issues of ours, one finds the Heaven s River The Milky Way Where everything is silence A distant blanket with scintillating pearls scattered all over it An ethereal image replete with possibility with hope Nature s attempt at pacifying our tantrums and mitigating our misery.That is how I feel about Kawabata s prose His minimalistic and poignant style His sincere and nostalgic voice A unique melody on a quiet night amid a stream of twinkling stars His words are my night sky.It s rather strange to look at this book and see something I hold dear since it has some elements I dislike hence, the absence of a perfect rating Primarily, a love story A romanticized love affair An apparently cold married man with a couple of women in his head Women giving everything they have, obviously A dramatic display of each emotion An abyss of vulnerability An obstinate behavior that doesn t even consider relinquishing everything that is destined to failure A relationship that was meant to perish in front of the whitened mountains, before it even started Snow Country is ready to destroy any vestige of passion that may disturb its gelid landscape That is where she belongs He looks at her from another side of the country And thus they will remain, concealing any stubborn tear that may wish to appear.This novel also brims with nostalgia The delights of nature A simple kind of beauty A Japanese kind of beauty, pure, unadulterated one that refuses to fall under the spell of Western modernity desperately trying to preserve its traditions and values The world of a geisha Lesson after lesson on how to entertain others with a broken heart Seemingly incidental elements that become substantial meditations on the world around us when touched by Kawabata s majestic pen An avalanche of introspection roaring down a mountainside, seeking for one s attention Or complete annihilation Couples and every unexpressed emotion that abided by fear s wishes and satiated their pride Everywhere.In any case, this writer s deeply poetic language was fundamental for me to actually enjoy this book It saved this story from being trite and overly sentimental There is an imaginative use of the word to convey widely known sentiments The air was pervaded by the scent of vivid reminiscences words uttered in an elegiac tone that never felt so alive.Paraphrasing Byron, the characters of this novel were two parallel lines prolonged to infinity side by side but never to meet, but that could not refrain from trying One can t help wondering if it is worth letting someone in when parting is already on the horizon latent, existing after all, the Milky Way illuminating an entire world made of snow might be the only thing some people have in common Or, perhaps, the reason of it all might rely on the fact that, despite any complication or obstacle that these characters encountered, they were able to elude for a season, for an instant Dostoyevsky s idea of hell That may also happen under the comforting light of the sun.April 18, 16 Also on my blog Photo credit Milky Way Panorama and Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado Glenn Randall via this blog.Maiko Snow Resort looking towards Yuzawa town via Snow Japan Shimamura s Tale Part IThe Milky WaySits high aboveMountain country,IlluminatingVillages below.Stardust falls Earthbound, Until, frozen,It becomesWhite snowflakesThat shroud the ground,Two meters deep.My hands reach outTowards the winter sky,Hoping I might catch A star in each hand.For a moment,They re in my grasp.I adore themLike they re loversThat I can keep.My desire doesn t Require thatI make a choice.Sometimes, it s true, You can have both.But the angry fire In my selfish heartMelts my lovi Shimamura s Tale Part IThe Milky WaySits high aboveMountain country,IlluminatingVillages below.Stardust falls Earthbound, Until, frozen,It becomesWhite snowflakesThat shroud the ground,Two meters deep.My hands reach outTowards the winter sky,Hoping I might catch A star in each hand.For a moment,They re in my grasp.I adore themLike they re loversThat I can keep.My desire doesn t Require thatI make a choice.Sometimes, it s true, You can have both.But the angry fire In my selfish heartMelts my loving flakes,The one a sacrificeThat I must make,The other myPunishment.Fate slices through meLike a knife,Deservedly,And leaves meTo returnTo my wife,And little childIn Tokyo,Empty handedly,With only this my taleBetween my legs.Shimamura s Tale Part II Apologies to Shakespeare With thine eyes and mind,Thou hast committed fornication, But that was in the snow country,And besides, the girl is dead.Komako s CounselWatch out for the beauWho ll approach you in the snow.He makes l amour faux.PartitionWe must learn how toPartition self pity fromSensitivity.In This Time of Dying For, Because Inspired by, Clive James Poet, write not of Existential Crisis Treasure life itself.Japanese Maple By Clive James The Old Capital by Yasunari Kawabata First Lines of the NovelChieko discovered the violets Flowering on the trunk of the old maple tree Ah They ve bloomed again this year, she said As she encountered the gentleness of spring https www.goodreads.com book show 1 Life s Great Choices Series Sometimes You Can Have Both by Noela HillsThis pencil drawing was a gift from my friend, the artist Noela Hills, in 1985 She tried to have both, but unfortunately she died later that year of breast cancer I read yesterday that they are close to finding a prevention and a cure for breast cancer It said that, one day soon, nobody need die of breast cancer There was one less star in the Milky Way the day Noela died Untitled by Noela HillsThere is such a Japanese feel to both of these artworks I always loved both the gown, the blade and the mask in this second work I wanted to pay Noela for it, but she made me accept it as a gift This review is my opportunity to return her favour and honour her memory.OTHER KAWABATA REVIEWS I read Thousand Cranes straight after reading and reviewing Snow Country Never have I had such intense desire to prolong a novel, not until I read this I am a man of literature It is in my blood to have the highest respect for the writer and to consider the work sacred, thus I never impose my will on the material even if the end is left open for the imagination to play upon I purposely hold myself back and stop where the cliff ends, I do not take the leap into the unknown abyss However today I find the exception Today I jumped Forgive me I am a weak man, a man Never have I had such intense desire to prolong a novel, not until I read this I am a man of literature It is in my blood to have the highest respect for the writer and to consider the work sacred, thus I never impose my will on the material even if the end is left open for the imagination to play upon I purposely hold myself back and stop where the cliff ends, I do not take the leap into the unknown abyss However today I find the exception Today I jumped Forgive me I am a weak man, a man now consumed by such glaring passion that even the very fabric of my nature trembles This refined suit of silly intellectualism that I have carefully cultivated through the years is now reduced to ashes after being engulfed by the flames of clear brilliance, so clear that I mistook it for reality I was so enad by the flames of desire I found in the pages of this small novel that step by step I drew closer to it until I realized that I had ventured too near, like a moth drawn to the candlelight, consumed by the searing fire Do not let the title of this work confuse you, this is not a story of icy temperament This is a tale of such intensely burning passion that no other work I have read comes close to matching, and it makes it all theastounding when you consider the restraint that is displayed by the very actions of the two people who breathe life into this book.Shimamura is a Tokyo man of weak passion, a connoisseur of desultoriness and lethargy yet when he meets the na ve and transparent country girl named Komako something inside him is stirred A curious relationship blossoms between them It is the type of connection rekindled only every few months, grounded on change, one that developed in spurts, but one that ingrained itself into the core of both their beings As I said, there lingered a very Japanese restraint between them that disabled any directness to shed light to their sentiments But despite this handicap, the clarity of their emotions is so radiantly felt Kawabata masterfully brushes the non verbal strokes of the romantic The controlled intimacy between the two is so delicious to watch, each one trying to keep their feelings in check, like a chess match, both trying to win but forever stuck in impasse But what of the girl who comes between them What role does this Yoko play I believe that Kawabata used her as the intermediary She was the reflection of their union, explaining why both are attracted to her yet neither had the power to confront her She served as the whipping boy between the two lovers The things that cannot be said to each other they said to her Taking up residence in Tokyo, being good to the other, to being insane, these were not words directed at her, these were words directed at themselves, at each other And in the end her very life was the symbol for their bond, when they thought all was lost, a spasm of life renewed them and it was Komako who willed and saved them and finally made the life inside Shimamura feel the gravity of his emotion I know a lot of people view this tale a tragedy but I beg to differ I wholeheartedly believe it is the kind where the love stands the test of time From the wordless i love yous, the touchless caresses, the undone kisses, everything is insinuated and nothing is said nor done And yet love, no matter how repressed or covered, breaks out and consumes like a flame that burns steadily, strongly, through the years Like the iridescent balls of fire in the Milky Way reminding us of the beautiful past that burns vividly in our memories Oh how beautiful are the stars Steeped in Japanese tradition Nobel prize winner Yasunari Kawabata has created something almost otherworldly, like it belongs in a completely different time and place Shimamura travels from the city to a village in the snowy mountains, and while in the company of a young rural geisha called Komako a strange love blossoms, but bound to the rules of the geisha Komako struggles with her emotions towards him and there is always a sense that sadness lingers The snowy setting really captures the im Steeped in Japanese tradition Nobel prize winner Yasunari Kawabata has created something almost otherworldly, like it belongs in a completely different time and place Shimamura travels from the city to a village in the snowy mountains, and while in the company of a young rural geisha called Komako a strange love blossoms, but bound to the rules of the geisha Komako struggles with her emotions towards him and there is always a sense that sadness lingers The snowy setting really captures the imagination especially at night where there are moments described so heavenly it goes beyond words Delicate and tranquil in nature with a precise lyrical style it has the feeling of a butterfly being caressed by a gentle breeze A work of rare and subtle beauty (FREE BOOK) ⚟ Terra de Neve ç Terra de neve a est ria de um amor de perdi o passada no meio da desolada beleza da costa oeste do Jap o, uma das regi es mais nevosas do mundo a , numas termas isoladas de montanha, que o sofisticado Shimamura conhece a gueixa Komako que se entrega a ele sem remorsos, sabendo de antem o que a sua paix o n o pode perdurarUm romance de grande beleza e sigularidade, uma verdadeira obra prima da literatura japonesa e universal do s culo vinte New love is as delicate as the wings of a moth I try to write but the words disintegrate between my fingertips They melt like snow on my tongue Maybe a light breeze could carry them across the ocean and drop them at your feet They will slip through your fingers like sand They will drift through the air like dandelion wishes.New love is as fleeting as the blossoms of an almond tree.The words might cut you like the sharp edge of this paper The tiny cuts will sting They buzz around your ear New love is as delicate as the wings of a moth I try to write but the words disintegrate between my fingertips They melt like snow on my tongue Maybe a light breeze could carry them across the ocean and drop them at your feet They will slip through your fingers like sand They will drift through the air like dandelion wishes.New love is as fleeting as the blossoms of an almond tree.The words might cut you like the sharp edge of this paper The tiny cuts will sting They buzz around your ear but you won t hear what they are saying They fall into your lap and you brush them away with a shrug.New love floats on water New love sinks like a stone