What a book to read during these winter tide months of the year.
Mieko Kawakami carefully writes out a realistic portrayal of a 34-year old Japanese woman who lives an unadorned life until something or someone changes her world. After reading that in the past she was assaulted by classmate Mizuno and made to grow up as a person who cannot express themselves and is mostly thoughtless, it was refreshing to see someone like 58-year old Mitsutsuka break her out of her shell.
Also it was quite scary to see she would heavily drink herself in social settings like the cultural centre but the way Kawakami wrote Fuyuko as a person who does not want to be involved in society makes sense. As sometimes disassociating with a community that thrives on forced work relationships, human compassion and trends for engagement can be overwhelming, I get it.
There were definitely parts that were translated as best as they could be such as the character, Mitsutsuka’s name read in Kanji (as “三束” or Sanzoku as I would read it myself) or how Mitsutsuka comments on how hot it is in the city at (98°) (however in Japan, they read temperature in Celsius, not in Fahrenheit. I’m quite sad that the ending wasn’t a romantic fit but more of a life goes on kind of narrative to end Fuyuko’s story. I wanted her to break out of her shell and she slowly did it with Hijiri and Mitsutsuka but not a complete 180°.
I think Fukuyo or Mitstsuka would eat something simple. So Seed + Mill’s recipe, Togarashi Spiced Shishito Peppers done by founders Lisa, Rachel and Monica is something that I can imagine they’d shared at an izakaya or cooking at home. While the Shishito Peppers are the only spicy element in this recipe, once in a a sneaky spice from the pepper will pop out at you! Click here to read the recipe.