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Five Women Who Loved Love: Amorous Tales from 17th-Century Japan

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  334 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
"Five charming novellas...which have astonishing freshness, color, and warmth." The New Yorker

First published in 1686, this collection of five novellas was an immediate bestseller in the bawdy world that was Genroku Japan, and the book's popularity has increased with age, making it today a literary classic like Boccaccio's Decameron, or the works of Rabelais.

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Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 15th 1989 by Tuttle Publishing (first published 1686)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 911)
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Jan 31, 2016 umberto rated it liked it
Shelves: tales, japan
I found reading this five-book paperback famous for the author's witticisms, ways of looking at things in this 'Floating World', sense of humor, etc. stunningly enjoyable and this translation by Wm. Theodore de Bary classic of its genre. Accordingly, the five books (chapters) are entitled as follows:
1. The Story of Seijuro in Himeji (Our family visited Himeji Castle in November last year.)
2. The Barrelmaker Brimful of Love
3. What the Seasons Brought the Almanac Maker
4. The Greengrocer's Daughter
Nancy Burns
Sep 28, 2014 Nancy Burns rated it liked it
Saikaku examines his society while at the same time amusing it.

Last thoughts: If you read the stories without researching Saikuka, his backround and life…then you will miss so many facets of his writing. Be prepared to do some work!

Here is my review:
Erika Schoeps
May 18, 2013 Erika Schoeps rated it did not like it
1.5 stars.
I couldn't finish this book, but I was almost halfway through. I have never seen writing so disorganized in myself. The individual sentences are written just fine, but the separate sentences don't connect. I couldn't make any sense of the stories, but they were very original. In one story the protagonist dies and then we get a different character as the protagonist. There were original ideas and interesting settups, but the execution was horrible.
Soukyan Blackwood
Jul 06, 2013 Soukyan Blackwood rated it liked it
First two stories left little to no impression. But the three last ones are the ones who deserved the stars. And beside the simple and yet fun short little stories, there's lots of interesting facts about those-days Japan, culture, religion, traditions.
Apr 09, 2009 Libby rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, japan
What a strange little book this one was. Perhaps the transalation from Japanese to English was tricky...but it was hard to follow any kind of plot in these stories. Once I gave up on making any sense of them I enjoyed their bizzare quirkyness.
Daniel Burton-Rose
Oct 05, 2011 Daniel Burton-Rose rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, literary-smut
It amuses me that deBary, the post-War apostle of Confucian Studies in the West, began his career translating the quintessential Genroku era pleasure quarters writer.
Tad Crawford
Oct 10, 2012 Tad Crawford rated it really liked it
Published in 1686 in feudal Japan, these five stories form a cautionary tale about the fate of those who cross societal boundaries. What is striking about the stories is that the women are from the newly coalescing middle class. This class itself has an outlaw spirit when contrasted to the feudal mentality in which birth and rank dictate everything. Moreover, the women in these stories allow themselves to be carried by passion beyond what the narrow strictures of their culture permits. The force ...more
Jul 12, 2016 Mariana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: para-regalar
No pude. Así, en serio no pude con estos relatos. Me parecen prefabricados en una caja de cartón donde solo acomodas algunas palabras y ¡Voilá!

Eso, o me gusta más el drama.
No me parece un libro maravilloso, y pienso en dos vertientes: una vez más, nos encontramos en una edición y traducción nefasta o el libro es realmente malo.
Esta manera "moral, buena y bonita" de retratar el erotismo no me gusta.

Es decir: creo que se meten demasiado en su chaqueta mental de bondad que no permiten que el mundo
Heather Cain
Jan 31, 2015 Heather Cain rated it liked it
Honestly the most saddest translated book of stories I have ever read. The translation evolves with a continuing cycle of tradegies which include disappintment, abandonment, and death. Although the stories are very detail with explanations and more, I could stop myself from constantly feeling depressed from the stories of tragic romances. Overall, I thought it was an interesting read for my first Japanese translation and hope to read other selections as well.
Mar 26, 2008 Karschtl rated it it was ok
I'm not really sure what to think of this book. It was definitely interesting to read about the Japanese culture and I wonder how much has changed, e.g. if the married women still have black teeth.

The love stories/tragedies could have taken place anywhere on this world and would have had the same outcome - at least in the 17th century.

The language was of course old-fashioned, but still understandable. But it didn't enhance the reading pleasure; nevertheless it did not take me very long to finish
Feb 28, 2015 Linas rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-books
5 short stories from 17th century Japan about love, lust... Some stories was interesting some strange, but that is because of difference culture.
Meghan Fidler
Oct 07, 2011 Meghan Fidler rated it liked it
This book was interesting while I was reading it, but honestly I remember so little from it now--aside from the fact that I was occasionally annoyed while reading it--that maybe I should read it again?
As an Anthropologist, I find this phenomenon amusing. Was the material too unfamiliar for me to identify with? Or was it the damn droll prose? Subject matter (women suffering damnation for sex never really peaks my interest)? No idea.
Dec 22, 2009 Jesse rated it really liked it
I really liked this and it was nice to get back to some old Japanese cultrue; I haven't read anything about ancient Japan since "Shogun".

The stories are fast paced and easy to read, loads of insight into the culture and society of the day, sometimes humorous and often bizzare but always entertaining and enlightening.

The introduction was really helpful and I think that I'm going to add this author to my list of things to find.
Zen Cho
Jan 05, 2010 Zen Cho rated it really liked it
Punchy and amusing; also interesting for stern format of straying lovers who die or enter nunneries/monasteries. But they are sympathetic stories, even though the characters who stray from the (occasionally obscure) dictates of society must by ruthless moral logic of narrative's world be punished. There were more English translations of Saikaku's stories in the bookshop where I picked these up; wish I'd got more of them.
Mar 22, 2011 Leslie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, borrowed, romance
I am not ashamed to admit that I read this solely for the promise of literary pr0n, and while it is salty by 17th-century standards, it is kid's stuff compared to Biblical standards. It wasn't nearly as erotic as it could have been based on everything I know about Japanese erotica, and trust me, I am *expert level.* (Should not advertise that, by the way.)
Feb 04, 2014 Saulius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Labai gera ir vertinga literatūrine prasme knygelė. Parašytos viduramžių Japonijoje penkios istorijos apie įsimylėjėlius ir ganėtinai gašlios. Labai smarkiai rekomenduoju bendram išsilavinimui. Knyga „nestora“, galima per vakarą perskaityti.

Be to, iš šitos knygos sužinojau, kas per augalas yra pelėvirkštis sukutis.
Julie Wang
Jan 23, 2008 Julie Wang rated it really liked it
Saikaku is probably one of my favorite authors. Edo period literature are generally pretty fun read in general, but his work really stood out for me, especially these stories. They were great dark comedies, but not lacking the pathos for these characters
Mar 10, 2011 Sae-chan rated it it was ok
Shelves: japanese-writers
To not supposed to be a difficult thing. So why it is? There are too many rules and regulations, schemes and grand plans, gossips and idle talks, profit and loss calculation. Love is such a wonderful thing when it is set free.
1) The Story of Seijuro in Himeji
2) The Barrelmaker Brimful of Love
3) What the Seasons Brought the Almanac Maker
4) The Greengrocer's Daughter with a Bundle of Love
5) Gengobei, the Mountain of Love
Nov 06, 2008 Diane rated it it was ok
Interesting social history of Japan in 1686. The writing style is simple. The subject explores the Japanese feudal system, crime and punishment lay in the comparative rank of the doer and the victim.
Aug 21, 2012 Joma rated it liked it
Still on it.

I find it somewhat amusing how love really drives these people crazy during their age... but then again, that was then; times are different now.

I plan to finish it.
Faith Justice
Sep 04, 2010 Faith Justice rated it liked it
Shelves: given-away
A classic of its time - five stories from medieval Japan translated into English. As much fun for it's footnotes explaining cultural references as for the actual stories.
Natasia Angel
A literary reading for fun only. To be honest, I don't really get the idea of the stories, but at the very least I'm training my imagination and get a history lesson in addition.
Amber Graham
Jan 25, 2015 Amber Graham rated it really liked it
I read this several years ago and don't remember a lot of details. More to come when I re-read it.
Apr 26, 2009 misty added it
A nice, but different collection of Japanese stories.
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Ihara Saikaku (井原 西鶴) was a Japanese poet and creator of the "floating world" genre of Japanese prose (ukiyo-zōshi).

Born the son of the wealthy merchant Hirayama Tōgo (平山藤五) in Osaka, he first studied haikai poetry under Matsunaga Teitoku, and later studied under Nishiyama Sōin of the Danrin School of poetry, which emphasized comic linked verse. Scholars have described numerous extraordinary feats
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