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, and presumably a widower. Their relationshiptraced by Kawakami’s gentle hints at the changing seasonsdevelops 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 a deeply 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’ keen loneliness.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very pleasant book. It portrays the simplicity of life and the Shinto beliefs, in some ways, of the Japanese. The story is about a woman, Tsukiko, and a man, Sensei. Nothing is clichéd, everything is clean and clear prose; the book moves onward as you read, easily and wonderfully. Perhaps it is a love story, or maybe is it just a friendship where two people deeply care and depend on one another. Short but in no way unnoticeable, the novel drifts through the life of Tsukiko. She is hardheaded, determined, scared, and perfectly human. Although nothing exciting happens, the story line is never boring: the characters always bring out the best and the emotion that radiates from these characters is enough to fill anyone with sympathy and love. A wonderful book that shows that even "nothing" can be as much a part of life as "something".