Snow Country
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Snow Country

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  6,812 ratings  ·  575 reviews
To this haunting novel of wasted love, Kawabata brings the brushstroke suggestiveness and astonishing grasp of motive that earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature. As he chronicles the affair between a wealthy dilettante and the mountain geisha who gives herself to him without illusions or regrets, one of Japan's greatest writers creates a work that is dense in implicati...more
Paperback, 175 pages
Published by Tuttle Publishing (first published 1935)
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turn this way!
I too feel lonely
late in autumn
~ Basho's Haiku

As if on a winter’s night a traveler, travels to a distant land, where the snow falls even on the maple leaves. Where lovers part to meet and meet to part. Where love is nothing but a mirrored reality or a fogged illusion. Where one heart has room only for the pleasure of regaining what had been lost and another voice is so beautiful that it’s almost lonely and sad. Where some deaths are tiny but invoke immense poetry and several lives...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer’s masterpiece: a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan.

At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome...more
May 18, 2012 Jenn(ifer) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the pure of heart
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: vincent van gogh

New love is as delicate as the wings of a moth.

I try to write but the words disintegrate between my fingertips. They melt like snow on my tongue. Maybe a light breeze could carry them across the ocean and drop them at your feet. They will slip through your fingers like sand. They will drift through the air like dandelion wishes.

New love is as fleeting as the blossoms of an almond tree.

The words might cut you like the sharp edge of this paper. The tiny cuts will sting. They buzz around your ear...more
An image of a young woman reflected in the window of a train. A man watches her. Snow Country opens with a strange, beautiful scene which sets up the story, and leaves hints at what is to follow,
A woman’s eye floated up before him. He almost called out in his astonishment. But he had been dreaming, and when he came to himself he saw that it was only the reflection in the window of the girl opposite. Outside it was growing dark, and the lights had been turned on in the train, transforming the wi
Ian Paganus
Shimamura’s Tale Part I

The Milky Way
Sits high above
Mountain country,
Villages below.
Stardust falls
Until, frozen,
It becomes
White snowflakes
That shroud the ground,
Two meters deep.
My hands reach out
Towards the winter sky,
Hoping I might catch
A star in each hand.
For a moment,
They’re in my grasp.
I adore them
Like they’re lovers
That I can keep.
My desire doesn't
Require that
I make a choice.
Sometimes, it’s true,
You can have both.
But the angry fire
In my selfish heart
Melts my lovi...more
Apr 02, 2011 Mariel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: northern lights
Recommended to Mariel by: sky phenomenon
I read the other reviews of Snow Country before I read the book. I'm nervous to look at any more right now, before I begin writing my own review (erm technically I'm writing it right now). It's like when you mishear lyrics in a song and find out the line that killed you wasn't what they were singing at all. Lights turned on and it's not as beautiful when it's the real world in day time? So the introductions I've read... I didn't read Snow Country as a love triangle. I don't want to.

Yukio Mishim...more
I view Asian Art through Western eyes. Not that I have a choice, I guess. That process enhances, even as it limits.


I love the beauty, the intricacy of Japanese woodblock prints, but I fear I’m seeing them superficially. Am I missing something, I wonder, if only a nuance? And Murakami. Even though his works owe much to Bulgakov and The Beatles, there is a descent from Japanese forerunners and the history and culture of those islands that probably – okay, certainly - eludes me.

Once an artist hits...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
In slow motion until the point of contact, this novella quite simply and mercilessly spends its energy reserves back-handing you with the its last few pages. I am getting ahead of myself, but it is important that you know this fact. I hear a lot of trash talked on Japanese novels and films from time to time (excluding those centering on martial arts, of course), of how they are slow, simple, boring, plotless, and where are the explosions, anyway? Well...

First off, I think that's a lot of hooey....more

Amusing the lotus pond
A child’s delight.

Butterflies dab my tears and lotuses kiss my heart. As a child, I used to spend hours gazing the dainty beauties as they flirted with the boisterous flowers. Amid my hearty giggles, the soft buttery wings browsed my cheeks for a pink watermark. I sought to embrace these coquettish insects as I sat on the wet grass. As I lifted one from its flowering sojourn and laid it on my palms, my eyes lit like the time my mother cuddled me after a bad...more
Eddie Watkins
This is the story of three different trips by Shimamura up into the Snow Country of Japan. Each trip occurs in a different season, and each in turn reflects his deepening involvement with a country geisha in a small village. While journeying by train there for his second visit he is struck by the beauty of a fellow passenger who by chance is traveling to the same village. As Shimamura gets more deeply involved, at least physically, with the geisha, he remains deeply intrigued by the other woman....more
at tosh's prodding i'd been on something of a japanese kick in '07, burned through mishima, dazai, tanizaki, murakami, etc. -- when deciding which kawabata to tackle, charles forwarded an interview in which vollmann mentioned snow country as in his all-time top ten. well, i read it on the flight from florida to california and stumbled off that plane utterly & totally flattened. snow country. whew. snow country. sad and enigmatic and spare and packed with some of the most odd & lyrical im...more
Let it be known that this is a terrible translation. I am convinced that I would have enjoyed this book ten times as much if someone other than Edward Seidensticker had bothered to translate it. My reasoning? Kawabata's Palm-of-the-Hand Stories is one best collections of short stories I have ever read. In the back of that book is "Gleanings from Snow Country," the last work Kawabata wrote before he died. It is a condensation of the novel in question. Remarkably, it is not even a rewriting but r...more
In the depths of the mirror the evening landscape moved by, the mirror and the reflected figures like motion pictures superimposed one on the other. The figures and the background were unrelated, and yet the figures, transparent and intangible, and the background, dim in the gathering darkness, melted into a sort of symbolic world not of this world. Particularly when a light out in the mountains shone in the centre of the girl's face, Shimamura felt his chest rise at the inexpressible beauty of...more
Vẫn phong cách quen thuộc của Kawabata. Truyện nhạt,có lẽ nhất là với những ai quen đọc văn học Nhật qua các tiểu thuyết của Murakami. Thêm nữa là diễn biến tâm lý các nhân vật trong truyện của ông thường có phần khó hiểu.
Tuy nhiên Kawabata lại là một nhà văn mình rất yêu thích và chưa có tác phẩm nào của ông làm mình thất vọng. Tác phẩm của ông luôn rất đẹp và vô cùng tinh tế. Một cái đẹp u buồn, hoài niệm. Một thế giới ảo ảnh, mơ hồ. Nói như vậy nghe thật sáo rỗng và giả tạo quá mức ( có phần...more
A feeling of nagging, hopeless impotence came over Shimamura at the thought that a simple misunderstanding had worked its way so deep into the woman's being.

Is that what love is all about in the end! A misunderstanding shaping one's entire existence, weaving into the essense of your being. Throughout, pain is a heavy undercurrent that at some point morphs into life itself. The elusive nature of people, of feelings, of love can be understood only in the context of the fleeting snowscape viewed fr...more
“The road was frozen. The village lay quiet under the cold sky. Komako hitched up the skirt of her kimono and tucked it into her obi. The moon shone like a blade frozen in blue ice.”

Kawabata's use of haiku for imagery in his literature is apparently a well established fact but that shouldn't cause us to ignore the beauty and sadness of said imagery in a review. It's well known but should always be spoken of. Even in clipped knowing phrases and nods of heads to those better acquainted than us.

As with other books I have read by Kawabata, I didn't like this book in the beginning; by the end I am always glad I have read them. His writing is a lovely mix of haiku characteristic contrasts and normal text. The scenes drawn evoke the feel of Japanese culture and landscape and traditions. Dialog too. The books lead up to a crescendo of feeling. The theme, a hopeless love relationship between a wealthy dilettante and a geisha did not attract me.

And I have to say a word about the introduction...more
i was a bit disappointed with this, especially if it's one of kawabata's more celebrated (or just famous?) books, or one of his break-out books, and since he is a nobel winner. his prose is lovely, but i felt like i was watching a very tactful and well-mannered movie from the 50s where they divert your attention to nice scenery shots or where they only show the actors' legs when they're kissing. the narrative skipped forward so much that it was hard to stay oriented, and the aforementioned allus...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
As often happens, I learned something from the Introduction. The side of Honshu facing the Asian continent is, for its latitude, one of the snowiest places on earth. The air comes down out of Siberia, picks up warmth from the ocean, and becomes snow. I interpreted this to be very much like lake effect snow in northern Ohio/Pennsylvania/New York. But that part of Japan is more southerly, about from Cape Hatteras to NYC, yet it still often gets fifteen or more feet of snow each winter.

Although thi...more
Helvry Sinaga
Pernahkah kau mencuri pandang lewat pantulan kaca, entah itu di pintu kaca, jendela kaca, kaca pada jendela mobil, kaca spion, kaca lemari, atau apapun yang bisa memantulkan bayangan? Apa yang kau lihat dan rasakan?

Peristiwa ini adalah kisah awal novel ini. Dalam perjalanan ke suatu tempat yang indah alamnya, Shimamura memerhatikan seorang gadis yang ada di depannya dengan melihat melalui pantulan jendela kaca kereta api. Kecantikan gadis itu sungguh memesonanya. Bisa dibayangkan ketika Shimamur...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This book was supposed to have been written from 1934 to 1947. The principal protagonist, a married man named Shimamura, is the prototype of the modern Japanese sex tourist. Once in a while, without his family, he goes to a place in Japan where snow falls the heaviest [the "Snow Country"] so he can have sex with geishas.

If this is made into a movie, it would be better that this be in a black and white film, the scenes always dark and cold, like Shimamura himself, who does not seem to be capable...more
Mashael Alamri
إلى بلد الثلوج تشده ذكرى ملمس يد ناعمة وتسريحة جيشا عالياً جداً كالجبل الشامخ وسط كل ذلك البياض , ينجذب بقوة لذلك الإتجاه بلا سبب واضح مع أنه لا يعرف حقاً ماذا يجدر به أن يفعل ,
على سكك الحديد وقوف وتلويجة يد كم تبدو سهولة هذا المشهد لمن يتأمله من بعيد , لكن إن مرَّ عليه يوماً سيكون أصعب موقف قد يصادفه في حياته .

الروايات اليابانية هي روايات وصف وطبيعة حتى أن التشبيهات التي يستخدمها أبطال القصة كلها مستوحاة من الثلوج الوزهور والشجر والأنهار تشعرنا حينَ القراءة بأننا نقتعد كرسيا في وسط حديقة على ي...more
I couldn’t have been more disappointed with this. Of course I did that soul-searching where one’s own inadequacies are put forward as the reason for a failure to like something that Should Be Liked. New shelf idea. Should Have Been Liked But Wasn’t.

This is a very very VERY Japanese book and anything I say about it is merely the opinion of one who is ignorant of the culture which imbues it. Needless to say, the whole idea of the male-female relations, the ways in which the women have to live is r...more
Friederike Knabe
Unless you are familiar with Japanese culture and language, you will find Snow Country different from most any novel you may have read. Read superficially the novel appears to follow a simple plot and structure. Yet, its intensity and beauty lies in the lyrical imagery of landscape and evocation of the protagonists' complex psyche and their relationships. The novel can be compared to a Japanese brushstroke painting, economic and suggestive, where the observant eye is able to complete the picture...more
M.J. Fiori
My experience of reading this book consisted first of utter confusion. What was going on? Who was saying what to whom? Who was a geisha and who simply a girl glimpsed on a train? Did anyone have a name, a history? Simple, solid human emotions that I could clearly relate to? This, together with the impression of snow-muffling, dark nights, the utter hush that only the dead of winter can bring. A train creeping along a track flanked by two great walls of banked snow. The hardscrabble life of a mys...more
Okay, I'm a bit ashamed to say this , since it was such a short book , but I had trouble finishing it ....

Not to say the book was bad or that I didn't like it ... But it was like looking at a nice picture . It's beautiful, but it doesn't move you like the real scenery would.

I was not bored , no ... But I was on the edge of it . I enjoyed the calm & slow feeling of the story , the nice scenery descriptions , but I don't think I will read it again .

I want to say, though, that if it had been...more
Kawabata crafts these really lovely, impressionistic scenes that unroll in a very staccato way. I hate to use such a cheap comparison as calling them haiku-like, but they do in fact seem very minimal and poised with tiny, precisely chosen natural details which evoke the transient, gentle sorrows of existence. I was quite surprised by the ending, which takes things to a whole other dimension of darkly weird, cosmic ruin. Sort of like a zen H.P. Lovecraft. That last sentence is quite the celestial...more
magnficient... little gem
Set in the perennially snow-cold region of western mainland of Japan, Snow Country features one of the coldest characters in fiction. Shimamura is a wealthy Tokyo-based gentlemen who from time to time visits a mountain hot spring and his geisha lover Komako. He appreciates the beauty of nature and culture (music and the art of Chijimi weaving), but his carefree aristocratic attitude cannot conceal his insensitivity to other people’s emotions. However much Komako expressed her deep feelings for h...more

I still found reading this novel still captivating and “strangely touching” (p. 43) between the elderly protagonist, Shimamura, and a young geisha named Komako whose relationships have been narrated in terms of their conflict and consent as part of their budding love, each coming from a different world. I think Kawabata has done his best in introducing Japanese culture by means of this exceptional novel depicting a Japanese-style love affair to the world to understand and learn to...more
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New Member 9 61 May 10, 2013 07:18AM  
PNWJETAA Book Club: Snow Country 1 15 Aug 12, 2012 10:51PM  
  • Some Prefer Nettles
  • Runaway Horses
  • The Three-Cornered World
  • The Wild Geese
  • The Setting Sun
  • The Waiting Years
  • Tales of Moonlight and Rain
  • Black Rain
  • Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: Four Short Novels
Yasunari Kawabata (川端 康成) was a Japanese short story writer and novelist whose spare, lyrical, subtly-shaded prose works won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author to receive the award. His works have enjoyed broad international appeal and are still widely read.
More about Yasunari Kawabata...
Thousand Cranes Beauty and Sadness House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories The Sound of the Mountain The Master of Go

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“As he caught his footing, his head fell back, and the Milky Way flowed down inside him with a roar.” 753 likes
“But even more than her diary, Shimamura was surprised at her statement that she had carefully cataloged every novel and short story she had read since she was fifteen or sixteen. The record already filled ten notebooks.
"You write down your criticisms, do you?"
"I could never do anything like that. I just write down the author and the characters and how they are related to each other. That is about all."
"But what good does it do?"
"None at all."
"A waste of effort."
"A complete waste of effort," she answered brightly, as though the admission meant little to her. She gazed solemnly at Shimamura, however.
A complete waste of effort. For some reason Shimamura wanted to stress the point. But, drawn to her at that moment, he felt a quiet like the voice of the rain flow over him. He knew well enough that for her it was in fact no waste of effort, but somehow the final determination that it was had the effect of distilling and purifying the woman's existence.”
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