Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Snow on Fuji by Yasunari Kawabata

Publisher: Counterpoint
Original Pub. Year: 1958
Pub. Date: October 2000
Translated by: Michael Emmerich
Pages: 227
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary: None really. This was a compilation of short stories written by Yasunari Kawabata.

Review: First Snow on Fuji was the third book I chose to read for the Japanese Literature Challenge 3 (or JLC 3 for short). To this day, I really have no idea how many books I will read for the JLC3. I'm having way too much fun! (Thanks, Ms. Bellezza!) I just might see how much I can complete until the deadline even though I had originally planned to read just one book.

Let's talk about First Snow on Fuji. I never heard of Mr. Kawabata until I decided to read this for the JLC3. My verdict: I liked it. I liked it a lot. I admit that as I write this review that I haven't even read The Boat Women, the last story (which is actually a play) in this collection. That's okay though because Mr. Kawabata had already won me over.

There were short stories that I enjoyed better than others: This Country, That Country; Nature; First Snow on Fuji; Silence; and Yumiura. Some were downright creepy like Silence, Chrysanthemum in the Rock, and Her Husband Didn't.

I noticed that there were recurring themes of cheating wives and husbands (or characters fantasizing about cheating) and life post World War II. Yet all the stories had one thing in common: beautiful and poetic words. The endings were abrupt and were left for the reader to make interpretations. That suits me fine since I like to use my imagination.

Recommendation: Mr. Kawabata used a lot of descriptive sceneries. I think that people who want their stories straight forward with solid endings might get frustrated. I would still recommend to those who enjoy stories with vivid imagery and ambiguous outcomes.


  1. I love poetic prose, so I'll keep this one in mind. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  2. Hi, Anna. I like poetic prose as well. I think you will appreciate Mr. Kawabata's work.

  3. Ive been looking for some accessible fiction for JLC3, and this might do. Everything else I'm reading is non-fiction (my real love).

    Thanks for the review!

  4. I liked Kawabata's novel "Snow Country"

    I love how Kawabata constantly emphasizes the fleetingness of beauty, how something is beautiful because you know it won't last.

  5. Hi shoreacres. Do you like descriptive scenery as well?

  6. Hi, Blooey. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

  7. Yes, "beautiful and poetic" is certainly a good description of Kawabata's writing. I finished reading The Old Capital last month and I consider it as one of the best novels I've ever read. Really captivating.

    Thanks for this review, I'm definitely going to be reading this one day :)

  8. Hi, Mark David. Thanks for visiting. Hm. Another Kawabata recommendation. I will definitely be looking for that!