Chizu and Ginko are the unlikely housemates in this tale about four seasons in the life together of two women separated in age by a half century. Twenty-year-old Chizu has lived with her mother, a high-school teacher, ever since her parents’ divorce when she was still small. But when her mother must leave for a job in China, Chizu declares that she, too, wants to leave and go work in Tokyo, where she moves in with 71-year-old Ginko, a distant relative of her mother. A longtime widow, Ginko lives with her cat in an old house out in the Tokyo suburbs; still quite young at heart, she has a male friend her own age and never forgets to put on makeup for her dance classes. In the spring Chizu begins working part-time as a party hostess, meanwhile breaking up with her boyfriend of two and a half years. Come summer, she starts going out with a young man named Fujita she meets in her other job at a train-platform kiosk, but is soon dumped. That winter she exchanges those jobs for steadier work in an office; then her mother, back in Japan for the New Year, tells Chizu she is thinking of marrying a Chinese man with a daughter of his own. Meanwhile Chizu faces the decision of whether to accept her employer’s offer of a full-time position and lodging in the company dorm. Although worried about how Ginko might feel, she ultimately determines to leave their comfortable old house?a choice that fills Chizu, young as she is, with angst about her inability to keep herself “solidly connected to someone else” as well as with anticipation over the prospect of being able to live on her own. Readers will be enchanted by Chizu and her brilliantly depicted mix of blemishes and charm, with a habit of pilfering trivial items and a bit of a mean streak on one hand and a fundamentally kind heart on the other.
13.6 x 19.4 cm / 5.4 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers
Akutagawa Prize, 2006
Simplified Chinese, German, Korean, Vietnamese