Sawako Ariyoshi’s ‘The River Ki’ explores characters who swim against life’s current

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By Iain Maloney

When we read Japanese history it’s easy to forget that the revolutionary changes that washed through the country from the 19th century into the 20th all took place within a single human life span.

Sawako Ariyoshi takes this notion as the premise for her 1959 novel “The River Ki.” The book follows the life of Hana, the daughter of a wealthy family in Wakayama, from her teenage betrothal to her elderly senility.

Raised to value the customs of old Japan, rapid modernization soon leaves her behind. Her daughter, Fumio, embraces feminism and Japan’s new international outlook, rebelling against her mother’s folk wisdom and superstition. Fumio raises her children abroad, ever on the move, until the outbreak of World War II forces them back to Japan. Read more

Source: The Japan Times


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