The semiautobiographical title story of this collection is considered one of the finest love stories in all of modern Japanese literature. Shinobugawa tells the charming tale of the narrator, known only as "I," a student at a university in Tokyo, and Shino, a young woman who works at a restaurant, Shinobugawa, near his dormitory. The narrator, the youngest of six children, has seen two of his brothers run away and two sisters commit suicide, while his remaining sister is physically disabled. Tormented by fears that his family's blood is cursed, he nonetheless decides to affirm life and take responsibility for his family. One day, the dormitory residents hold a party at Shinobugawa to send off graduating students, and there the narrator is smitten instantly by Shino, who works at the restaurant to support her penniless family, who live in a run-down house in the countryside. The two grow close, and at last they go to the snow country of northeastern Japan where they celebrate their marriage with the narrator's parents and his sole remaining sister. Despite their poverty, the newlyweds pledge to live a vigorous, fulfilling life together. The beauty and simplicity of this world are a testament to the author's own moving desire for rebirth in his life.
Shinchosha Publishing Co., Ltd.