The Temple of the Wild Geese and Bamboo Dolls of Echizen

The Temple of the Wild Geese and Bamboo Dolls of Echizen

by Tsutomu Minakami, Tsutomu Mizukami
     
 

The Temple of the Wild Geese, a semi-autobiographical account of Mizukami's childhood, tells the tale of Jinen, a Buddhist monk raised by villagers after his mother, a beggar, abandoned him. Sent to live at a temple at the age of ten, his resentment smolders for years until it explodes in a shocking climax. In Bamboo Dolls of Echizen, no woman is willing to marry

Overview

The Temple of the Wild Geese, a semi-autobiographical account of Mizukami's childhood, tells the tale of Jinen, a Buddhist monk raised by villagers after his mother, a beggar, abandoned him. Sent to live at a temple at the age of ten, his resentment smolders for years until it explodes in a shocking climax. In Bamboo Dolls of Echizen, no woman is willing to marry the diminutive Kisuke, a bamboo artisan, until Tamae, a prostitute, comes to pay her respects at the grave of Kisuke's father. In Tamae, Kisuke sees shadows of his own mother, who died when he was young, and the two eventually marry. Since Kisuke seeks only motherly affection from Tamae, the two never become lovers. Instead, Tamae devotes herself to caring for Kisuke as a mother would, and he thrives as a renowned maker of bamboo dolls.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

excellent glimpses of worlds of pre-war Japan that have disappeared' -Asian Review of Books

Dalkey Archive Press

Publishers Weekly

Two elaborate tales written in the early 1960s by the Japanese author Mizukami (1919-2004) explore volcanic oedipal urges lurking just below the surface of unlikely love triangles. In "The Temple of the Wild Geese," set at a Zen Buddhist monastery in the mountains, Jinen, an unhappy, "disfigured" and lonely orphaned novice, develops a filial crush on Satoko, a recent widow and the reverend Jikai's new common-law wife, which she encourages. When Jikai's excessive drinking clouds his better judgment, Jinen's desire is transformed into brutal action. It's a simple jealousy tale centered on a complex relationship, and Mizukami achieves remarkable psychological depth through detail and stylistic finesse. "Bamboo Dolls of Echizen," set in 1924, similarly hinges on a maternal relationship gone sour when a young bamboo craftsman takes his father's prostitute as a wife and insists on treating her as a mother rather than as a proper wife, to the detriment of her health. Readers new to Mizukami's work will be enthralled by the isolated, rural settings of the northern Hokuriku region of Japan, and by his elegant storytelling. (Mar.)

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Kirkus Reviews
First English translation of a pair of novellas by a masterful Japanese author. Mizukami (1919-2004) writes in a spare style, so the novellas' emotions are just-beneath-the-surface-subtle. They do not share characters, but they're thematically related. Both focus on outsiders whose alienation is symbolized by their strange, nearly grotesque physical appearance. In The Temple of the Wild Geese, a Zen priest named Jikai enters a relationship with Satoko after her lover dies. Jikai, a man of prodigious sexuality, is also the mentor of Jinen, an apprentice priest at the temple and covert admirer of Satoko. Jinen is malformed, with a thin body and huge head, and Satoko finds herself in equal measure attracted and repelled by him. One night they become lovers, and Jinen's seething resentment about the way the older priest treats Satoko leads to a murderous explosion. Bamboo Dolls of Echizen is the tender tale of Kisuke, an expert craftsman who discovers that his recently deceased father had a secret life involving Tamae, a prostitute. Diminutive Kisuke, only four feet tall, gradually feels love for Tamae and persuades her to marry him, but with one striking proviso: that they not engage in sex. He sees her much more as a mother figure than as a lover. As Kisuke develops his skill in carving bamboo dolls, his fame spreads far beyond the small village of Echizen, eventually drawing the attention of the head clerk of a doll shop in Kyoto, Chubei, who was involved with Tamae when she was a prostitute. Just as Tamae begins to accommodate herself to her semi-wifely, semi-motherly role with Kisuke, the unthinkable, but perhaps inevitable, happens. She has a night of passion with Chubei, finds herselfpregnant and, feeling guilty, tries to keep this knowledge from her husband. The story then takes a dramatic (verging on melodramatic) turn with the tragic resolution of Tamae's pregnancy. Two starkly beautiful narratives, spare and strange.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781564784902
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
03/28/2008
Series:
Japanese Literature (Dalkey) Series
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

James Kirkup
The Temple of the Wild Geese [was] an immediate success. Its thriller techniques are on a par with those of Georges Simenon, Patricia Highsmith, Francois Mauriac, and Leonardo Sciascia. . . . [Mizukami] used his experiences of boyhood and youth as the basis for Bamboo Dolls of Echizen. This is full of the peculiar local colour of a small, creepy village on 'the backside of Japan'. The descriptions are so detailed, they almost give the feeling of reading a fascinating ethnographical study of a primitive and spooky culture. It is a lost world of vicious ghosts, painful obsessions, utter poverty, and the helpless dignity of ugliness. The book became one of Mizukami's most popular works.
Independent

Meet the Author

Tsutomu Minakami, also known as Mizukami Tsutomu, was a popular and prolific Japanese author of novels, detective stories, biographies, and plays. Many of his stories were made into movies.

Dalkey Archive Press

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