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Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
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Strange Weather in Tokyo (2001)

by Hiromi Kawakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (12)  Spanish (6)  German (3)  French (3)  Catalan (3)  Dutch (2)  Norwegian (1)  All (30)
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A masterful portrait of two lonely, awkward souls trying to come together despite themselves. I identified very strongly with the characters. The bittersweet ending packs a veritable emotional punch. ( )
  Crontab_e | Sep 19, 2017 |
I have been eyeing this book for the longest time since I saw the the edition with the full bleed yowayowacamera photo cover but got my heart broken when that particular (full bleed) cover went out of print quite awhile back and have been kicking myself ever since for not getting it when it was still available. Meh. #booknerdissues

Anyhow, a friend of mine recently got it (without knowing that I have been eyeing it) - so, serendipity! Got to borrow it and read it! And finished it in one go (today)! Haha!

This was a short, sweet and somewhat poetic story. Sort of like regency romances in it's propriety but very Japanese in it's minimalism and sparseness - of having weight without being heavy, flowery without being overly rich. But all in all an old fashioned love story at heart with just the right amount of poignancy short of perfumed sworls of sakura petals raining down on you.

As a movie it would consist of still frames where nothing much is said but everything is in place. A line of text sliding down the side for each chapter heading...

A 3 star rating because I genuinely liked it but can't really say that I *really* liked it... it did bring a lot of imagery to mind though. And made me want to have hot sake and edamame and sashimi and the like... @_@



( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
Tsukiko Omachi likes to frequent a saké bar after work. She likes to sit and drink and eat the food prepared there and pass the time. She is a solitary drinker. But her solitude is disturbed one evening when she notices the elderly man sitting a few seats further down the bar. She recognizes him as Mr Harutsuna Matsumoto, but her whole life she has always thought of him and called him “Sensei”. He was her Japanese literature teacher in school. Now he is long retired, another solitary drinker who likes to quietly partake of saké and bar food. Over the course of the next two years, Tsukiko and Sensei will move closer, both literally in starting to sit beside one another but also in the development of tender feelings. This is a winter/summer romance that is as fresh and fragile as any new love. That it can only last a limited time is a mere detail since all lovers are finite though love is not.

Sensei is extremely formal, rigid, and concerned with propriety. Yet he quickly develops affection for his former pupil (despite chastising her for being such a poor student). Tsukiko is perhaps more difficult to fathom. She is in her late thirties at the outset, single but self-sufficient. She works in an office is all we know but we never learn what kind of work she does. She does not appear to have had too many romantic entanglements over the years. But even she acknowledges that she suffers from a kind of arrested development. Indeed, she increasingly sounds more like a schoolgirl than a mature woman. Is this a curious aspect of her particular character, or is it a kind of infantilization which serves to underwrite (and justify?) the protective tone that Sensei takes on? It is difficult to tell. Certainly Tsukiko seems excessively young — far younger than her actual age. And that exaggerates the difference between her and Sensei. (Indeed, the fact that she insists on thinking of and referring to him as “Sensei” enforces the disparity between their relative positions in the relationship.) Yet the overall story continually strives for a poignancy that could not be achieved if any crass exploitation of their differences were at hand. In the end, this is a quietly observed love story (accompanied by a prodigious amount of alcohol). It is, as others have described it, enchanting. Gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Sep 16, 2016 |
This is the story of an unusual relationship between Tsukiko and a man that used to be her teacher, which is why he is referred to as Sensei. It's a story that fits well into the "slice of life" category, I would say. We follow their - in particular Tsukiko because it's told from her perspective - lives, from the time of their "first" encounter, or rather the encounter that changes their relationship. Rather than having a linear structure, it's more like glimpses of memories and moments that shape up to be what changed them and what made them grow, that this book is made up off. I quite like the writing of Hiromi Kawakami, it's beautiful and very atmospheric. I feel like I could really picture the streets they walked, the taste of the food that they ate, the smell of the wood as they were mushroom hunting. I also really liked that the chapter had titles rather than numbers, which added to the feeling of a "journal" that the whole book gives. It's a slower type of story which I suppose is often the case with slice of life in general, and at this moment in time it was actually the perfect read for me. I love Japanese literature in general, and I thought about why that is while I was reading this. I think the reason could be summed up into the Japanese word "wabi-sabi" which means "a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay". I feel like this is a theme (or worldview) that runs through Japanese literature in general, and is also very much present in "Strange weather in Tokyo".
  zombiehero | Mar 25, 2016 |
Jolie histoire douce-amère, tout en retenue, mais un peu lente à se mettre en place. Il faut plusieurs chapitres pour s'attacher aux personnages, mais ensuite ces derniers m'ont touchée en plein coeur.
Le livre étant assez court, il se lit vite mais m'a beaucoup marquée après coup. ( )
  CathCD | Jan 16, 2016 |
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added by Delfi_r | editANTIGUA VAMURTRA (Dec 2, 2012)
 
added by Delfi_r | editBibliofilosis Letrae (Feb 15, 2012)
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kawakami, Hiromiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gräfe, UrsulaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holm, MetteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nakayama-Ziegler, KimikoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Offiziell müsste ich meinen alten Lehrer bei seinem vollen Namen nennen: Harutsuna Matsumoto-Sensei - Herr Lehrer Harutsuna Matsumoto -, aber für mich bleibt er einfach der "Sensei".
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Disambiguation notice
This work is the original 1-volume novella by Hiromi Kawakami (川上 弘美), not the 2-volume graphic novel illustrated by Jirō Taniguchi (谷口ジロー).
This work was first published in English under another title:  The Briefcase.
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Book description
Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, 'Sensei', in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass - from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms - Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love. Perfectly constructed, funny, and moving, Strange Weather in Tokyo is a tale of modern Japan and old-fashioned romance.
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"Tsukiko, thirty-eight, works in an office and lives alone. One night, she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, "Sensei" in a local bar. Tsukiko had only ever called him "Sensei" ("Teacher"). He is thirty years her senior, retired, andpresumably a widower. Their relationship-traced by Kawakami's gentle hints at the changing seasons-develops from a perfunctory acknowledgment of each other as they eat and drink alone at the bar, to an enjoyable sense of companionship, and finally into adeeply sentimental love affair. As Tsukiko and Sensei grow to know and love one another, time's passing comes across through the seasons and the food and beverages they consume together. From warm sake to chilled beer, from the buds on the trees to the blooming of the cherry blossoms, the reader is enveloped by a keen sense of pathos and both characters' loneliness"--… (more)

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