This Naoki Prize-winning work paints a deeply sentimental picture of the loves and lives of working women during the Edo period (1603?1867).
In the latter half of the Edo period, the warrior caste was finding itself pushed out of the top echelons of society by the rising merchant class, while repeated famines swept the countryside. Against this backdrop, a small number of women vigorously built themselves independent lives with unusual careers?working as designers of ornamental hairpins, or even as scribes?in the male-dominated society of the day. This book is a series of short stories about these women.
Forget-Me-Not features a woman named Oichi as its main character. A painter, she enters into a relationship with a woodcarver, Saijiro, and they pledge to marry. However, Saijiro ends up impregnating and marrying another woman. Oichi, unable to forget him, goes to his house, only to be confronted with the sight of his harmonious family life.
The other stories are Love's Chill Wind, whose protagonist is Hagino, a teacher; Eight-Tenths a Man, with Kanae, a scribe; No Time for Tears, featuring the joruri chanter Oen; Innocent in Love, the story of Okon, a dealer in knickknacks; and the title story, with Okaji, a restaurant owner: in all, the tales of six Edo women, their work, and their lives.