Hiromi Kawakami, Allison Markin Powell
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As Tsukiko and Sensei grow to know and love one another, time’s passing comes across through the seasons and the food and beverages they consume together. From warm sake to chilled beer, from the buds on the trees to the blooming of the cherry blossoms, the reader is enveloped by a keen sense of pathos and both characters’ keen loneliness.
no good unless you use tofu from the corner tofu shop, and they always reopen on the third, my mother chatted away as she cheerfully prepared the yudofu for me. It’s delicious, I said. My mother replied with obvious pleasure, You’ve always loved yudofu, haven’t you? I can never seem to make it the same way. That’s because you use different tofu. They don’t sell this kind of tofu over where you live, Tsukiko, do they? After that, my mother fell silent. I was quiet too. Without speaking, I
the boor was drunk it was an easy thing to do—the one who stole it was drunk himself, so it was an equal task. “That’s the gist of it. Hyakken, he’s really quite good.” Now that I thought about it, Sensei used to always wear this same ingenuous expression during Japanese class. I remembered it well. Is that why you stole it? I asked. Sensei nodded vigorously. “You could say I was following after Hyakken.” Are you familiar with Hyakken, Tsukiko? I figured Sensei would ask me this, but he did
bottle opener echoed throughout the room. By the time we finished the second bottle, both of us had fallen silent. Every so often the sound of the waves grew louder. “It’s so quiet,” I said, and Sensei nodded. A little while later, Sensei said, “It’s very quiet,” and this time I nodded. The silver foil wrappers from the cheese had been peeled off and lay curled up on the table. I gathered the foil into a ball. I suddenly remembered how, when I was little, I had collected the silver foil from
wondered where we were. Was this a dream? I had been drinking with Sensei. I had lost count of how many empty saké bottles there had been. “Must be littleneck clams,” Sensei murmured, shifting his gaze from the horizon to the tidal flat. There were lots of people gathering shellfish in the shallows. “They’re out of season, but I wonder if you can still find them around here,” Sensei continued. “Sensei, where are we?” I asked. “We’re back again,” was all Sensei said in reply. Back again? I
shirt felt too heavy. I had learned my lesson on our recent trip, and decided against wearing anything that I wasn’t comfortable in, like a dress or high heels. I wore a long-sleeved shirt over cotton pants, with loafers. I knew Sensei would probably say I was dressed like a boy, but so what. I had given up worrying about Sensei’s intentions. I wouldn’t get attached. I wouldn’t distance us. He would be gentlemanly. I would be ladylike. A mild acquaintance. That’s what I had decided. Slightly,