This Hand Exists for You

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This Hand Exists for You
Author: Takuji Ichikawa
Specifications: ISBN  978-4043943128
313 pages
15.2 x 10.6 cm / 4.2 x 6.0 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Kadokawa Corporation
Tokyo, 2007
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This volume contains three mid-length and shorter works by an author regarded as one of the standard bearers of the contemporary love story in Japan. In each case, her struggling characters are disengaged from the usual social jockeying and desires, their peaceful days resting upon a more delicate equilibrium.

The title story is about a boy and girl?Hiro and Satomi?who grew up together from very shortly after they were born. Satomi is three months older and plays the big sister during their early years, acting as protector to the fainthearted Hiro. But their roles reverse after Satomi begins to experience unexplained seizures during the summer when she is eleven: Hiro is the only one who can stop her seizures, by placing his hand on her back. They come to feel a stronger bond than ever. "It's as if I'm coming alive again each time you touch my back," says Satomi.

By the time they reach the end of their childhood years and Hiro enters college, the once introverted boy has made many friends and established a life of his own. Satomi now lives alone, having lost the mother who had been her only family, and thanks to the medication that keeps her seizures in check most of the time, she rarely calls Hiro for help anymore. One day Hiro discovers that she has disappeared, leaving behind a potted rose and a note saying, "You made it possible for me to be happy." Several years pass before Hiro learns where Satomi is and goes to visit her. He learns that she had gone away in order to free him of the burden she was on him. He tells the now-gaunt Satomi, "This hand exists for you. I want to be with you forever."

Also included in the volume are Tomei na kido (Transparent Trajectory), which begins with a warm encounter between a young woman who has given up her job for health reasons and a man who has a son of eligible age; and Tasogare no tani (Valley of Twilight), which portrays the life of a man who chooses to raise a nephew and other children unconnected to him by blood rather than starting a family of his own. All three stories are filled with the kind of love and kindness that expects nothing in return.