Japan. The last decade of the 17th century. Men who lived by the sword find themselves cut adrift while women begin to confront new threats and opportunities. The austere demands of the haikai poet are no match for the growing popularity of urban performers, and the medieval samurai ethos has been replaced by the culture of the merchant, and the shogun's bureaucrats.
This colourful but remote world is protrayed in these stories. Basho, Japan's greatest poet, features in several of them. We also meet Ohasu, a young woman trapped in the decadence of the pleasure quarters; Hasegawa, a rogue samurai who seeks solace in wine, in the rigours of Zen Buddhism, and in his willingness to defend an outmoded code. A mysterious woman buried in an imperial nunnery struggles with an unbearable remorse; a senior shogunate official seeks to preserve Bashio's poetic legacy; a teenage sociopath tries to carve out his own career with a gratuitous and murderous assault; and a bizarrely preternatural pariah executioner accepts his destiny.
Sometimes surprising, sometimes horrifying, The Plum Rains & Other Stories brings to life a uniquely beautiful and violent world.
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Table of Contents
Author's Note vii
The Green Summer Wind 1
The Plantain 10
The Buddha-nature of the Horse 18
Under Blossoming Boughs 35
The Palace Orphan 51
Winter Seclusion 62
Solitary Rambler on the Withered Moor 94
The Emptiness Monk 104
The Narrow Road to Dewa 118
The Arsonist's Widow 165
The Plum Rains 188
Poems in The Plum Rains 201