Rating: 4 stars
I absolutely loved this book and I don’t really know why. Not a lot happens, but it is described beautifully. On the surface, nothing much seems to be going on. Shimamura, a man of leisure who has inherited so much wealth that he doesn’t need to work, spends long stretches of time in a hot spring town with Komako, a local geisha, leaving his wife and children in Tokyo. Neither Shimamura nor Komako know or will acknowledge what they want from life. Both lack energy, drifting along, reacting to events rather than controlling them, or controlling them through inaction. Beneath the surface is the potential for passion, but neither possesses the motivation to act. The book is dreamlike in the way it jumps around and seems to have meaning without saying anything clearly. The dysfunctional relationships across the piece intrigue and frustrate equally. The prose is beautiful, with rich descriptions of time and place, like an extended haiku. I found it quite cinematic. I could visualise everything from the descriptions, and I felt as though I were drifting along with Shimamura and Komako in their ennui. There is something delicious about desire that is acted on but not fully acknowledged. Kawabata describes it without describing it, somehow. Anyway, I’m tangling myself up. I loved it.