The River Ki
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The River Ki

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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  23 reviews
The River Ki, short and swift and broad like most Japanese rivers, flows into the sea not far south of Osaka. On its journey seaward, it passes through countryside that has long been at the heart of the Japanese tradition. And it flows too past the mountains and the villages, past the dams, ditches and rice fields that provide such a richly textured backdrop to this novel....more
Paperback, 243 pages
Published July 8th 2004 by Kodansha (first published May 1st 1959)
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Norwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore by Haruki MurakamiBattle Royale by Koushun TakamiHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
Best Japanese Books
345th out of 388 books — 1,777 voters
Another Country by James BaldwinMy Year of Meats by Ruth OzekiKindred by Octavia E. ButlerThe River Ki by Sawako AriyoshiThe Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway
Out of print - in Germany
4th out of 198 books — 3 voters


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Community Reviews

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Mariel
Aug 24, 2011 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: babbling brooks
Recommended to Mariel by: I pulled Ariyoshi's name off a list of female Japanese writers. I'm resourceful like that
I used to have this friend who was a writer. He was unique among my (all past) other writerly friends in that he didn't persistently offer for me to read his writings (I never minded the reading. It was the pressure for enthusiastic feedback that made me feel tired beyond my years). He was not unique in that he bragged, constantly, about his works. The one that was brought up the most was about five generations of women. I heard about the progress of the brilliant five generations of women story...more
El
The River Ki is both a powerful river as well as a beautiful one, and here it represents and mirrors three generations of women before, during and after World War II. The story begins with Hana, the apple of her grandmother's eye, who is raised and bred as a traditional Japanese woman. She is married and gives birth to Fumio who, despite Hana's efforts and wishes, rebels against the traditional arts and culture of her upbringing. In her own marriage Fumio finds someone who is as interested as he...more
Gardy
Sawako Ariyoshi è un'autrice giapponese completamente sfuggita dal mio radar, che ho recuperato in questa edizione preistorica solo grazie a circostanze fortuite.
"Il fiume Ki" è uno dei rari libri tradotti in italiano che racconta la progressiva occidentalizzazione del Giappone d'inizio '900 con uno stile intrinsecamente giapponese nella narrazione, a differenza di tanti altri nomi più noti già influenzati dall'Occidente anche nella struttura dei propri scritti.

Attraverso la vita adulta di una...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
il fiume e la vita intorno ad esso

storia di una famiglia del Giappone rurale raccontata con l'ottica di Hana da quando va in sposa fino alla morte, il fiume è il centro della vita di questa antica famiglia e i racconti svelano il passare degli anni e i cambiamenti cui il Giappone è andato incontro nel corso del secolo appena trascorso, buffi i riferimenti agli albori di un pallido femminismo e a quello dello, stroncato sul nascere, orientamento politico comunista e nel contempo appare affascinan...more
Nick
"The River Ki" is like the European novels -- "Buddenbrooks", or "The Radetzky March", in which the story of a nation is told through that of a declining family. At its onset in the early part of the century, Hana is a girl about to enter an arranged marriage to an ambitious man of lesser family. Her daughter Fumiko is a modern, educated girl of the twenties is athletic, forsakes her kimono and marries for love. She and her husband also travel abroad, becoming the disingenuous early wave of Japa...more
Adam Rabiner
The River Ki is a family saga taking place across three generations and a hundred years spanning from mid 19th to mid 20th century. Focusing primarily upon three strong women from each generation and the ties between their husbands take less prominent roles but several of the men in the story are well fleshed out. The River of the story, strong and steady, a nourisher but also a potential destroyer in times of floods, is a metaphor for life. I enjoyed the novel which portrays a Westernizing Japa...more
Katie
A quiet contemplative book with a feminine view of Japan, told from the perspective of three generations of women. The main protagonist, Hana, is an intelligent and strong woman, but one who believes that she should live the life of a traditional Japanese housewife. It is easy to see that she is frustrated by her role and her sense of duty. Her daughter, Fumio, bursts out with modern, intelligent and quite eccentric enthusiasm. She rejects the tea ceremony, playing the koto and flower arranging,...more
Sara
A thought-provoking and beautiful novel following the life of a Japanese woman in the late 19th and early- to mid-20th Century, and those of her grandmother, granddaughter, and daughter. The storytelling approaches its themes subtly; each woman's life contrasts the others as the intense social and technological changes of the period affect their initially rural Wakayama Prefecture of Southern Japan.

I am a sucker for things like this, but the descriptions of the river, the wedding procession, th...more
Brittany
I'm not sure what to say about this book. I never know what to say about books that I don't love, but don't hate either. I found myself identifying with a little of both Hana and Fumio. I admired the tradition and superstition that Hana held so dear, probably because I don't have a defined heritage and envy those that do, and would have liked to come from a family so ingrained in tradition. However, I also admired Fumio's tenacity and had I been a Japanese girl growing up in that age, the age of...more
Jean Hoffmann
Interesting if you want a glimpse into Japanese life from about the late 1800s to the 1950s. Keep in mind Japanese aesthetics: perishability,irregularity, suggestion, and simplicity. When reading Japanese literature I realize that that I have to keep in mind that it tends to be very delicately balanced and requires patience. As I read the book I began to see a time-based correlation with what the characters faced in terms of the tensions between the traditional and the modern and with what I tea...more
Ginny
An interesting book about traditional Japanese culture and its inevitable fading as the country modernizes. The book tells of this change through the life story of a woman named Hana. The story begins with Hana’s very traditional, arranged marriage to a first born son in a town located down stream on the River Ki. The couple have children and deal with the ups and downs of family life. As the story continues, it focuses on Hana and her relationship with her first born daughter, Fumio. Hana and F...more
Petra
A lovely look at the changes in Japanese Society and traditions, seen through the stories of 3 generations of women of the same family.
Hana is brought up in a wealthy, very traditional Japanese family and believes in traditional family values, customs and ceremonies. Her daughter shuns these traditions for the modern values. Hana's grand-daughter admires and loves the traditional ways of her grandmother but doesn't understand them.
The three women represent Japan's struggle to find its place on...more
umberto
I have never read Sawako Ariyoshi before but I was interested to read her novel "The River of Ki" by this paragraph:

Powerful enough to sweep away people on its banks and placid enough to carry along with its flow a sumptuous wedding procession, the River Ki dominates the lives of the people who live in its fertile valley and imparts a vital strength to the three women – mother, daughter, and grandmother – around whom this novel is built. It provides them with the courage to cope, in their diffe...more
Kai
Feminism in pre-1900's Japan. Everything changes, everyone dies.
Tina
Hmm. Not sure about this book. I didn't fall in love with it but I didn't dislike it either. It's about three generations of women in a Japanese family in the early 1900s-1950s(?). What I didn't realize until after I'd finished was that it was written in Japanese in 1959 and then translated into English in the 80s. I'd assumed it was a recent publication, since it was written very similarly to other new books I'd read on similar subjects.
Roberto
Il libro narra la storia di una famiglia giapponese tra il prima e il dopo la guerra mondiale e coinvolge alcune generazioni di essa. Il tema principale è l'inesorabile scorrere del tempo attraverso le varie fasi della vita umana. Cambiano le epoche, gli usi e i costumi. Ma le tradizioni rimangono e l'autrice ci fa capire quanto sia importante ricordarsi delle proprie origini. Queste rimangono per sempre.
Jack Coleman
Mar 07, 2011 Jack Coleman rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Iam eclectic reader and every so often I shift gears and try something new.
I was pleasantly rewarded with this book from a different culture, and learned more about
Japan along the way. Life as related by the matriarch of a Japanese family through generations
living by the river Ki in Wakayama prefecture.

library copy
Susan
Jun 02, 2013 Susan added it
Fascinating story about the role of women in Japanese culture. Traditional society was highly ritualized. Women worked very hard to play the roles that were expected of them, as daughters, wives and mothers. As society began to change, these roles and traditions were questioned.
Christie Ervin
Read this book for my Japanese culture course, it was by far away the best read of the course, a fascinating fictional work that follows a Japanese family through the generations, and in particular, the women's roles. Definitely worth reading.
Anna Engel
Interesting book. However, I lack a cultural reference (Japan at the turn of the century to just before WWII) and was unable to recognize some of the subtle meanings in the story. The book was enjoyable, but not one I'd come back to.
Erin
Mar 18, 2008 Erin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: peole interested in pre-war Japanese culture
Shelves: interesting
This is a poetic generational account of a wealthy rural family that eventually suffers a great deal due to WWII. The main character is a strong yet traditionally virtuous woman.
Donna amato-salvacion
read this for school. loved the look and 3 generations of woman in Japan from the turn of the 19th century till after WWII.
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Born in Wakayama City and a graduate of Tokyo Women's Christian College, Sawako Ariyoshi spent part of her childhood in Java. A prolific novelist, she dramatises significant issues in her fiction such as the suffering of the elderly, the effects of pollution on the environment, and the effects of social and political change on Japanese domestic life and values, especially on the lives of women. He...more
More about Sawako Ariyoshi...
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