Iwanami Shoten, paperback ed. 2018. 220 pp. ¥800. ISBN 978-4-00-602298-3.
Also published in: Chinese（traditional characters), French, and Italian
The young man is searching for “the silence and the scenery left behind after something decisive has passed.” Through his relationships with an elderly couple and a hermit-like recluse who lives in one of the few Western-style buildings on the island, he comes to feel the tangible presence of the island’s past. He gazes at the mountains that people revered as sacred, eats rice balls wrapped in butterbur leaves, and stands under waterfalls to purify himself.
The natural beauty of the surroundings soothes the pain the young man suffers in losing his fiancée and parents in short succession. The island’s temples were destroyed in the anti-Buddhist movement that erupted in the aftermath of the 1868 Meiji Restoration. But even after that upheaval, the atmosphere of these sacred places is still a forceful presence on the island. In gentle and precisely weighted prose, the author draws a moving portrait of the culture and past of this fictitious island. The book ends with an epilogue written 50 years later. What sights await the geographer when he returns to the island after so many years? This beautifully written story is filled with affection for the vanished landscapes of Japan. (NK)
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