Tree House
Author: Mitsuyo Kakuta
Specifications: ISBN  978-4163289502
469 pages
13.8 x 19.0 cm / 5.5 x 7.6 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Bungeishunju Ltd.
Tokyo, 2010
Translations: French
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Country Languages Publisher Title ISBN Translator Affiliate Link
France French Actes Sud La maison dans I'arbre 978-2330030704 Isabelle Sakai
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This ambitious work takes a sweeping look at Japan's postwar history through the eyes of three generations of an ordinary family. The stage is a small Chinese restaurant on the edge of the entertainment district near Tokyo's Shinjuku Station, and the story begins in the summer of 2008 when Taizo Fujishiro, the restaurant's founder, dies of old age. The building has cramped living quarters for his three-generation family, which includes five others: Taizo's wife Yae; their eldest son Shinnosuke, who now heads the business; Shinnosuke's wife Fumie; their son Yoshitsugu; and Shinnosuke's younger brother Taijiro, currently unemployed. After her husband's death, Yae, who has always worked tirelessly to manage the restaurant even as she raised a family and helped with her grandchild, suddenly speaks of wanting to "go home." She and Taizo had first met while living in Manchuria during the Second World War, and only returned to Japan after the surrender. With Yoshitsugu and Taijiro accompanying her, she departs on a trip to Changchun in northeastern China, hoping to visit former Chinese acquaintances who'd been good to her when she lived there, and with this trip as its fulcrum, the story traces the history of the Fujishiro family over the past 60-odd years. Grandson Yoshitsugu has long wondered about his home being not merely for his own extended family, but a place where unemployed or divorced relatives as well as shop employees and friends were welcome to stay as long as they needed; he's also wondered why his grandparents never talked about their past. What led to his atypical family becoming the way it was? How had he himself come into being? The story unfolds against the backdrop of the major postwar currents in Japan, from the student movement to rapid industrial growth, the bubble economy and its collapse, the Aum Shinrikyo subway gassing, and so forth.