strange weather in tokyo: a novel by hiromi kawakami

Strange Weather in Tokyo is an easy, quick, 170-pages novel written by a Japanese writer named Hiromi Kawakami. I read this novel during my finals, and frankly.. the story is nothing revolutionary. Instead, it’s simple and to the point — a perfect 5 PM and tea read.

The novel itself is about a 30-something woman, Tsukiko Omachi, who accidentally meets her now 70-year-old school teacher, or sensei in Japanese. Both Tsukiko and sensei, Harutsuna Matsumoto, enjoy spending time together in a local pub owned by Tsukiko’s acquaintance. From there on, Tsukiko falls gradually in love with Harutsuna. Luckily, her feelings get recicoprated. Nonetheless, the story ends in a somber note with the death of Harutsuna.

That’s basically the whole story plot — brief, isn’t it? I suppose if you only want to enjoy such homey read without fussing much with the story, this novel is perfect for you. Reading this is therapeutic in a way, since the novel gives out soporific effect. To be honest, it does give me conflicted feelings. When I was in the middle of reading it, I both wanted to stop because it made me sleepy, and continue on with the story as it calmed me down. It’s not my favorite novel.. I still much prefer Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto over this, even though Yoshimoto and Kawakami write rather similarly in genre. Nonetheless, I find myself relating a lot with Tsukiko’s whims and feelings. When Tsukiko has a crush on Harutsuna, she behaves rather foolishly by wearing uncomfortable clothing just to look adorable, avoiding Harutsuna completely as she thinks the man will miss her or something (he does not care), stressing out about her own love towards Harutsuna, and over-analyzing every little things. I did all of those stuff too when I used to have a crush on a boy (not anymore now, and it’s liberating). When Tsukiko thinks that Harutsuna does not like her back, she begins to wonder whether she’s actually destined to be alone for the rest of her life. That’s what I think about too, sometimes I wonder the very same thing. It’s not that I despise being alone (I occassionally enjoy loneliness). Yet it just seems pathetic isn’t it, being alone all the time?

Strange Weather in Tokyo is beautifully sprinkled with Japanese poetry, or haiku. And like any other Japanese authors, Hiromi Kawakami describes all the food in such a mouth-watering way: Tuna with fermented soybeans. Edamame. Kimchi. Ayu fish with sour knotweed sauce. Sashimi, miso soup, tofu, octopus. Mushrooms gathered in the woods. Giant prawns and abalone.


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