Thousand Cranes

A Thousand Cranes - Yasunari Kawabata

There is something about traditional Japanese literature that I find so peaceful, like sitting in a glade beside a brook on a summer day as the water gently dances over the moss covered rocks beneath while the sun cloaks you with its rays filtered by the leaves above.


Shortly after the death of Kikuji’s father, he attends a tea party hosted by Kurimoto Chikako, a discarded mistress of his father. At first he believed the invitation was no more than a formal gesture in memory of his father, however, the postscript indicates there is a young lady that he is to meet. At the tea he also meets uninvited guests, Mrs. Ota, the woman who supplanted Chikako and remained mistress to Kikuki’s father until his death, and her daughter, Fumiko.


The meeting of these people is the start of a friendship with some and an inappropriate relationship with another leading to tragic consequences. The book is far too short to say more of the plot. The beauty of the book lies in the ceremony and meaning of tea, where even the choice of tea bowl can convey passions, where the cast of the eye, the tilt of the head, and the gesture of the hands, the touch of fingers shouts out feelings and messages making words unnecessary.


With subtlety and an economy of words the author brought the characters to life. I understood and cared for them deeply.

I highly recommend this book.