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The Budding Tree: Six Stories of Love in Edo
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The Budding Tree: Six Stories of Love in Edo

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  46 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
This Naoki Prize-winning work is a personal yet precise account of the lives of working women in the Edo period (1600-1868). 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, and repeated famines swept the countryside. Against this backdrop, a small number of women vigorously ...more
Hardcover, 170 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 1993)
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Aug 14, 2016 Nada rated it liked it
I found myself drawn to Japanese literature as I picked up 3 books for authors i know not of except that they include the famous -ichi, -ichida, -amato in Japanese names. I found something in Japanese lit. which differed entirely from American/English lit. It was this calm, relaxed-pace with which events went on. No matter how tense the events went on, it's just this.. calm voice reading in your head. And when it went completely wrong, it felt like the author was bowing down in deep sorrow. It ...more
Zeynep Beyza
Sep 09, 2015 Zeynep Beyza marked it as did-not-finish
Unfortunately this book was too complicated for me to read, i couldn't get into it.
Just A. Bean
Mar 22, 2012 Just A. Bean rated it it was amazing
I especially liked Bamboo Sword in combination with this book. The Budding Tree is six tangentially-interconnected short stories about women at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Unlike the last book, this one is written as a whole, highlighting six women working in Edo over a two year period. The women know, or at least know of, each other, and interact, though each gets her own story. They are often merchants or daughters of Samurai, who are working for a living now, independent of government ...more
Dec 19, 2014 Tonymess rated it liked it
Aiko Kitahara was born in 1938 and began her fiction career whilst working as a copywriter. She won the Shincho Prize for New Writers for her novel-length “Mama didn’t know” (Mama was shiranakattanoyo) and was runner up in the Shosetsu Gendai Prize for New Writers with her novella “Powder Snow Flies” (Kona yuki mau) in 1969. Her work “The Budding Tree” (Koiwasuregusa “Forget-Me-Not” the original Japanese title) won the Naoki Prize in 1993. She won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature in 2005 ...more
Veronika KaoruSaionji
Mar 15, 2010 Veronika KaoruSaionji rated it it was amazing
Very interesting. Six stories about six Japanese women which lived in Edo (Tokyo) around 1830 and most of them were painted by (real) female painter (which is sixth one). Every story is about one of them and in every story a little about some other woman, too.
Every of these women try to works as men and were succesful - as female school teacher, joruri actress, famous restaurant proprietess ("Budding tree" is name her restaurant) and so on.
And about some men who support them or admire them. I l
Jul 27, 2011 Cal rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, fiction
This wasn't a bad book but it also didn't do much for me. Maybe it's a translation/cultural style issue more than anything, because I feel similarly about another Japanese novel I've read. I feel like the characters were basically all the same and even though the situations were different, the struggles were similar. So it wasn't the most engaging read. It was nice to see women as the focus, and their abilities as business owners.
I enjoy these stories. It's always nice to read about independent women, but especially interesting to read about them in late 1800s Edo. I generally don't like books that take place in history, but it is wonderful to envision calligraphy artists and dancers in Japan. I also like how these stories, are told from the point of view of women who enjoy being on their own but also see love and I like how each story is left very open so that you can choose either ending.
Jan 30, 2010 Alice rated it liked it
Aiko Kitahara can be described as a Jane Austen of Edo period Japan. Though she was not a writing during the period, her ability to create the scene and detail is wonderful and rich. The Budding Tree follows the narratives of women in working class situations as they struggle within confining and rigid social codes. Really quite a good, but somehow, small book. It lacks the wit of Austen or it went going straight over my fat American head.
Aug 31, 2008 Christine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
I usually don't like short stories but Aiko Kitahara has an incredible way of connecting each of these stories of Japanese women in the Edo period in Japan to each other, it almost felt like a complete novel. Plus, who can resist stories filled with samurai, kimonos, Japanese food, woodblock printing, love, drama, heartbreak, heroism...especially when they're written so elegantly.
Kevin Michael Dela Paz
Jun 20, 2013 Kevin Michael Dela Paz rated it really liked it
Too much sexism than I can handle. Still, a nice read. Some of the stories have a strange ending. Or was that the ending? If you're into Japanese literature, but can't read Japanese, this is a book for you.
Apr 09, 2016 Caroline rated it liked it
I enjoyed it as a historical peep into women's lives in Edo Japan but other than the last one, the stories didn't make a lasting impression on the whole. I suspect quite a lot in style and engagement has been lost in translation.
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Aiko Kitahara was born in Tokyo's Shimbashi district. After graduating from Chiba Prefectural Girls' High School she joined an advertising firm, beginning her crative work on the side. She won the Shincho Prize for New Writers for her debut work, the 1969 Mama wa siranakatta yo (Mom Didn't Know). She has gained a widespread following for her elegant style and for her detailed images of the ...more
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“But supposed she had a sudden urge to see their faces and turned to look at them - what would she see? Probably she would find that their backs were turned to her as well.” 3 likes
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