This Naoki Prize-winning work is a personal yet precise account of the lives of working women in the Edo period (1600-1868).
In the latter half of the Edo period, the warrior caste was finding itself pushed out of the top echelons of society by the rising merchant class, and repeated famines swept the countryside. Against this backdrop, a small number of women vigorously built themselves independent lives with unusual careers--working as designers of ornamental hairpins, or even scribes--in the male-dominated society of the day. The stories in The Budding Tree recount the conditions in which these women lived.
"Japanese author Kitahara depicts in these six tales the plight of single women struggling for success in early-to-mid-19th-century Japan. These young women protagonists are gifted artists or fledgling entrepreneurs who have lost the protection of men, either by the death of fathers or divorce from husbands, and dare to make a name on their own, often with dire consequences. In the title story, owner Okaji is struggling to keep her new restaurant, Moegi ('the budding tree'), afloat despite a famine and competition from her ex-husband's more established restaurant. In 'Love's Chill Wind,' a schoolteacher resolves to maintain a school her deceased father founded. Moreover, these proto-feminists have to fend off pesky matchmakers and importunate advances by hardly well-meaning suitors, such as the married man in 'Innocent in Love,' who seduces out of spite his childhood friend, now a successful designer of ornamental hairpins. Kitahara also elegantly portrays the dilemma of the young Oichi in 'Forget-Me-Not,' who must make a painful compromise in love for the sake of her art. The timeless conflicts of Kitahara's characters will resonate with today's readers."-Publishers Weekly
Series: Japanese Literature Series
For Ages: 22+ years old
Number Of Pages: 161
Published: 1st December 2007
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 16.2
Weight (kg): 0.45