Mr. Tsubakiyama's Seven Days

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Mr. Tsubakiyama's Seven Days
Author: Jirō Asada
Specifications: ISBN  978-4022577863
378 pages
14.0 x 19.5 cm / 5.6 x 7.8 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.
Tokyo, 2002
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Manager Kazuaki Tsubakiyama, 46, dies of overwork the night after the opening day of a major sale at the department store where he works. Claiming unfinished business, he appeals to the authorities in the afterlife and is given permission to briefly return to this world. Coming back at the same time are Yuta Negishi, 8, a boy who died in a traffic accident, and Isamu Takeda, 45, a yakuza boss who was killed in a case of mistaken identity?each of them inhabiting different bodies from when they were alive. There are three crucial rules to which they must all adhere: never reveal their true identity, refrain from revenge, and return to the afterlife in seven days without fail. Break any of those rules, and there will be terrible consequences.

Tsubakiyama comes back as a beautiful woman aged 30. When he goes to look in on his wife and son, he is shocked to find his dashing assistant manager Shimada with them, and to learn that his son is not really his. He also discovers that his father, who lives in a facility for dementia patients, moved there only out of consideration for Tsubakiyama and his family, and does not actually have dementia at all.

The young boy Yuta, who had lived a pampered life as the son of a wealthy family in one of the mansions of Seijo, a posh Tokyo suburb, learns that he had been adopted at the age of three. He has many happy memories from his brief life, and now in the body of a little girl, he sets out to find his biological parents, hoping to express his gratitude to them. Tsubakiyama's father and son both come to Yuta's aid. But when Yuta finally finds his parents, he breaks the rule against revealing his true identity.

Takeda comes back as a lawyerly gentleman. Meeting with his yakuza brothers in an effort to discover how he was mistakenly killed, he tries to head off a plot by his six henchmen to avenge his death. But when he sees one of his men pointing a gun at the man who killed him, he grabs it away from him and ends up killing the man himself, thereby breaking the rule against revenge.

Through the journey each of these characters makes back to this world, the story probes the meaning of blood relations, the ties that bind parent and child, and our bonds with others who move in and out of our lives. In Jiro Asada's trademark style, it is a warmly human tale that is sure to moisten the reader's eyes.