Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

cranesThousand Cranes is an Oedipal narrative told by Kikuji, who is strongly attracted to his deceased father’s last lover. Set after the end of World War II, it’s a sad, sensual, delicate, somewhat depressive, quiet novel.

Since I started reading Haruki Murakami’s books, I became very interested with other Japanese authors and Japanese culture as well. I’m not much into drinking tea but I’ve read a few things about the traditional Japanese tea ceremony which plays a fundamental part in this book. I’m fairly certain I didn’t quite understand everything about the tea ceremony (or the book entirely) but how Yasunari Kawabata uses these tea cups, tea bowls and utensils to make memories come alive and trace history of these items’ ownership was one reason why I really enjoyed reading this.

I was slightly disappointed with the ambiguous ending but thinking about it now as I write this, it wasn’t really a bad thing.

Quotable Quotes:

“Now, even more than the evening before, he could think of no one with whom to compare her. She had become absolute, beyond comparison. She had become decision and fate.”

“Your mother was such a gentle person. I always feel when I see someone like her that I’m watching the last flowers fall. This is no world for gentle people.”

“He could not call up the faces of his own mother and father, who had died three or four years before. He would look at a picture, and there they would be. Perhaps people were progressively harder to paint in the mind as they near one, loved by one. Perhaps clear memories came easily in proportion as they were ugly.”

Rating: 4/5 stars


Author: Just_Me :)

Basically a breathing, moving, eating and happy-go-lucky homo sapiens. Full-time daydreamer and part-time paranoid. I love reading, I love Roger Federer, I love food.

12 thoughts on “Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata”

  1. Oooo this makes me curious because, like you, Murakami makes me more interested in Japanese authors & culture, too. Sounds like an emotive read and I hadn’t come across the author before so I’ll make a note. Sometimes those ambiguous endings can be disappointing at first but upon reflection can seem to add another dimension and more depth to a book.
    Caz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, it’s only disappointing at first but eventually, as we contemplate about it, we somehow realize it’s best it ended that way.
      Thanks for reading and I hope you get to read Thousand Cranes, too!


  2. Well, that’s not as weird as him being attracted to his own mother but it’s still pretty weird. 😛 I’ve read some Japanese novels this year and they’ve mostly been underwhelming, I think something seems to get lost in translation. One of my favorite Japanese books of the year was ‘The Emissary’ by Yoko Tawada. It was pretty weird but it was nice to find a dystopian novel that felt truly original in a genre whose sense of originality seems to be running dry..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right that something seems to get lost in translation when it comes to Japanese novels. Though I never really felt that in the translated works of Haruki Murakami and Yoko Ogawa. Or perhaps a reread for the other novels would give us better understanding? Anyway, I haven’t read The Emissary or any book from Yoko Tawada but I’ll keep a note. Thanks for reading.😊

      Liked by 1 person

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