Buy Study Guide Summary As the season of heaviest snows in the region of western Japan known as the "snow country" begins in December, the wealthy Tokyo dilettante Shimamura journeys to a hot spring town to see a woman who will later be called Komako he met there half a year ago. While on the train, he becomes fixated on Yoko , a girl of unusual beauty who is nursing a sick man, and he finds himself especially entranced by the reflection of her face on his window. Later when the train stops by a station and Yoko cries out to a stationmaster, Shimamura is also fascinated by the clarity of her voice. Arriving through the cold night at an inn in the town, Shimamura is startled to find the woman he knew, who has now become a geisha, waiting for him. The two go to his room and begin to talk, whereupon the story returns to their first encounter. At the time, Shimamura had just come down from a week of hiking in the mountains at the border of the village during the first time of spring.
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And cold. And occasionally, weeping. But you dont see my tears, for they run down the stream and lose their essence at the prolonged kiss of the first sun. But I do not mind. I come alive to die; I bulk up to surrender; I appear to vanish. But I, too, have admirers. Admirers, who eye ephemeral beauty with a stinging lacquer of depleting life, colluding their vision with a bagful of clouded vignettes stroking the air that arises after all is consumed and lost.
Visiting Japan I am white, mostly. Visiting Japan in , I met Kawabata-san. He whispered in my drifter ears that he wished to nestle a story under my frosty silhouette. I am no spring and I am no sun. In my lap, tears appear more tenacious than smiles. And in my heart, I imprison love stories that untangle into laborious passion, reverberating in their incomplete destinies of intertwined desires but scattered existences. Your decision to drop your child in my tutelage may mar its chances of gaining an empathetic visitor.
So came, Shimamura and Komako, Yoko and Yukio. And this Japan was still under the wreck of unequal rights of labour and dignity.
But if you insist, I will oblige. Shimamura was groping for new vistas after a regular life had clutched him tight and Komako was a young geisha who equated new horizons to the skyline that inebriated my edges. When I saw them the first time, they were well-equipped to escape my mirthful sorrow. Shimamura was indulgent without emotion and Komako was wishful without goals. But alas! I am such a wretched stage; people step on me and forget the rest.
I kept telling them I am the soft soil that sinks with repeated stamping but the duo, perplexed under the hypnotic rhythm of my robust sheets, dripping body and glistening air paid no heed to my cries.
Both returned at my every appearance like faithful regulars but the unfulfilled rooms of their lives refused to open to a common hall. Whether other people tricked them into acts they did not intend to commit? I am afraid not. I suspect when I melt, I steal a part of those who hold me in their eyes; and at each return, I bind the stolen things in threads of melancholy despite my intention to dye them in colors of happiness.
But Kawabata-san was a mature man; for when he placed his characters in my world, he also slipped many lyrical skates bearing the mark of mono no aware , handing a robust sailing to his creations and effectively annulling the threats posed by the steep boulders of unrequited love, unfathomable concern, unstoppable heartbeats and unmanageable bonds, compounded further under the burden of my heavy, stoic breathing. He won my heart by comprehending the little corners of my country with a sagacity comparable to someone born in my womb and chiseled them gently to accentuate their hidden beauties.
So, the next time someone alights from a rickety train on a faint evening into a land bearing my stamp for as far as the eyes go, he will extend his arms in anticipation of an embrace that will not congeal his thoughts but would set them in riveting motion, softly swaying them in the gust of impermanent realities and navigating them into the warm kotatsu of permanent memoirs.
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
Kawabata writes with spareness and suggestion instead of writing overtly. The story offers a subtle character study on Shimamura. Rather, he mistakes pleasure and attention with love. As for Komako, she loves him but realizes how he uses her to ease his own boredom and discontent. The first meeting we see between Komako and Shimamura after a long separation highlights this tension: Abruptly, at the foot of the stairs, he shoved his left fist before her eyes, with only the forefinger extended.
Plot[ edit ] Onsen geisha Matsuei, the person upon whom Kawabata based the character Komako in the novel. Snow Country is a stark tale of a love affair between a Tokyo dilettante and a provincial geisha that takes place in the remote hot spring onsen town of Yuzawa. The hot springs in that region were home to inns, visited by men traveling alone and in groups, where paid female companionship had become a staple of the economy. The geisha of the hot springs enjoyed nothing like the social status of their more artistically trained sisters in Kyoto and Tokyo , and were usually little more than prostitutes whose brief careers inevitably ended in a downward spiral. The liaison between the geisha, Komako, and the male protagonist, Shimamura, a wealthy loner and self-appointed expert on Western ballet , is thus doomed to failure.