Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Gate” as Want to Read:
The Gate
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Gate

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  659 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
One of the central masterpieces of 20th-century Japanese literature, The Gate describes the everyday world of the humble clerk Sosuke and his wife Oyone, living in quiet obscurity in a house at the bottom of a cliff. Seemingly cursed with the inability to have children, the couple find themselves having to take responsibility for Sosuke's younger brother Koroku. Oyone's he ...more
Paperback, 213 pages
Published December 1st 2005 by Peter Owen Publishers (first published 1910)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
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
136th out of 493 books — 2,336 voters
War with the Newts by Karel ČapekSnow Country by Yasunari KawabataDiary of a Mad Old Man by Jun'ichirō TanizakiKokoro by Natsume SōsekiThe Birds by Tarjei Vesaas
UNESCO Collection of Representative Works: Novels
144th out of 224 books — 32 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Eddie Watkins
Oct 03, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-fiction
I know of no other novel that ends with its main character so meaningfully trimming his fingernails.

Gazing through the glass shoji at the sparkling sunlight, Oyone's face brightened. "What a sight for sore eyes. Spring at last!"

Sosuke had stepped out on the veranda and was trimming his fingernails, which had grown quite long.

"True, but then it will be winter again before you know it," he said, head lowered, as he snipped away with the scissors.

Going into my second reading of this novel I knew my
Eddie Watkins
Oct 08, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-fiction
No one makes dullness stimulating like the Japanese. As if the ultimate in refinement is to find transcendent significance in the utterly blank. Soseki is the melancholy master of this strain of Japanese aesthetic (with Murakami proving more and more to be (perhaps?) unintentionally right on his heels (with progressively less emphasis on "stimulating", i.e. simply dull)). But back to Soseki. This book in particular is so loose and understated as to be either metaphysically profound or thoroughly ...more
Ben Winch
Aug 16, 2013 Ben Winch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese, asian, 5-stars
Soseki. I hardly know where to start. I've been saving this review for weeks now, for a quiet moment, for inspiration to strike, to gather the strength necessary to try and grasp just what's so good about this book, about all his books (or the later ones at least – after and including Kusumakura), and I feel no closer to a summation. Is this in fact the mark of the truly great author – s/he who haunts you but without explanation? There's so many things I love about Soseki, above all the sense th ...more
For 176 pages this book moved along at its minimalist pace, the protagonist and his wife making do in a quotidian existence. Add a talking cat, some explicit sex and a few Western pop culture references, you get Murakami; add a laugh-track, you get Seinfeld.

Turn the page, and the protagonist is off on a Zen vacation. He is given a koan to think on: What was his original face before his parents were born?

Taking this gate literally assures a meditative failure. Not that I'm any kind of Zen expert.
Jun 05, 2013 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: you couldn't keep the great unknown from making you mad
Recommended to Mariel by: baby's sixth Soseki
Realizing that both this Sunday and the fine weather that had accompanied it had drawn to a close, a certain mood came over him: a sense that such things did not last for long, and that this was a great pity.

Do you ever feel like you're a better person alone?

When Sosuke bows out of meetings not avoided this time it is said about him that he looks much older than his years. The sad sack flat line of a life line read by cold palm bows. On your knees, look up and grateful. It must get you down to
Jun 14, 2014 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, japan
Natsume Sōseki's novel The Gate (門 in Japanese) is an exercise in emotional subtlety, extensive background detail, and a slow wandering narrative which leads to an ambiguous yet provocative conclusion. This is Sōseki.
Nov 27, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Josh
He was someone destined neither to pass through the gate nor to be satisfied with never having passed through it. He was one of those unfortunate souls fated to stand in the gate's shadow, frozen in his tracks, until the day was done.
May 19, 2013 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
“We have the right to look forward to better times.”

I enjoyed this. Yet I wasn't convinced that the backstories couldn't have been handled with a little more sophistication. Perhaps less would have been more? It felt a bit "Oh ... this odd couple are wistfully listening to the sounds of neighbourhood children ... poor things, they don't have any of their own, I wonder if ... But here's Natsume with ten pages about the deaths of every child they've ever conceived".
Nostalgia, mostly. A more thorough review will have to wait until I get my hands on a Japanese copy.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
My taste for Japanese literature grows and grows. While the first two of Soseki's novels (Botchan and I am a Cat)that I found left me unimpressed, this may be because I read them in a Spanish translation...and I know the poor quality of many Spanish translations of English novels, so I gave this one a try when I found it in English. I am so glad I did.

The main character and his wife first seem like an old married couple of many decades' standing. Further into the text, however, we learn that the
Zen-like beauty. At the start, exquisite sadness and pain. Characters struggle for peace of mind, trying to escape the jaded feelings they have been harboring for so long. The last part of the book is more ruminative, more contemplative, and (I'd like to believe) redemptive. In the end a sense of life affirmation, of renewal, regeneration. If you're into Buddhism, meditation, asceticism, finding the path, and other New Age blahs.

Mon is, for me, better than Kokoro. I have a feeling that every boo
Jun 29, 2016 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyrb-classics, 1910
It took me years and several viewings before I finally started to love the films of Yasujiro Ozu, one of the greatest directors ever. Coming from the perspective of someone raised on fast-paced action sequences, these films seemed unbearably slow. Nothing happened; indeed, the characters were actively avoiding activity. It seemed Ozu simply put the camera on a tripod and left while his actors had tea. Of course, there was something there, because I kept trying, and not just because people kept s ...more
The Holy Terror
The Gate is the last novel of Soseki’s trilogy which started with Sanshiro: A Novel and continued with And Then. The Gate is practically a sequel to And Then, but with different characters.

Sosuke, the hero of this novel, is a hard-working office clerk in Tokyo who has increasingly become melancholy over his lot in life. He is married to Oyone, and they have no children. Living in their house is also a maid, Kiyo, and later on Sosuke’s younger brother Koroku comes to live with them. Soseki’s nov
Feb 05, 2016 Jena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Las novelas por entregas fuun género de mucho éxito enla Europa del siglo XIX y, La Puerta es una de ellas. Se publicó por vez primera en el periódico Ashai a partir de enero a junio de 1910. Fue una obra que causó gran expectación entre los lectores, y es probable que estos lectores hayan sido hombres en su mayoría, pues es bien sabido que aquí y en Japón, por supuesto, pocas mujeres sabían leer a principios del siglo XX.
El argumento narra la vida apartada y monótona de una pareja bien avenida,
Dettie Leestafel
Jan 12, 2014 Dettie Leestafel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De schrijfstijl van Natsume Sõseki is zeer ingetogen en rustig. Toch weet hij een lichte spanning op te roepen doorheen het verhaal. Je weet en voelt dat er vroeger iets gebeurd is, maar wat?
Er zijn subtiele verwijzingen en Sõsuke heeft af en toe een vreemde lichamelijke zwakte of koortsaanvallen, je vermoedt dat deze voortkomen uit een niet verwerkte situatie, maar zo miraculeus als deze aanvallen opkomen, verdwijnen ze ook weer.
Het huwelijk is hecht en Natsume Sõseki weet in enkele woorden d
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
La Porta che i personaggi di Soseki non attraversano mai

seguito ideale di E poi, La Porta narra di una coppia che vive la propria passione come una colpa poichè a causa di essa un comune amico ha lasciato l'università e si è trasferito in Manciuria, e come conseguenza del fatto i due sono precipitati molto più in basso di quel che la loro posizione sociale avrebbe mai consentito...questo nel Giappone di inizio secolo, quello dei matrimoni combinati e delle passioni guardate con sospetto...
Jan 31, 2013 Colleen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lost in translation. I have read some challenging books in my time but I think this one takes the cake. I found it lacking in just about every area. The book started out very slow and I had high hopes that it would get better quickly because of the size of the book. Unfortunately it never got there for me. I want to attribute it to the fact that it is set in another country very far from here (America) and because the culture gap is so vast, I just couldn’t understand where the author wanted thi ...more
The Gate is the type of book that kept my interest engaged. The emotional and spiritual vacuum present in the story endeared me to Sosuke, the main character. The undulating angst present maintained a certain amount of tension throughout the book. There are nuances present in the storyline that would easily slip right past you if you weren't paying attention. I definitely would want to own my own copy and read it again and again. I was pleasantly surprised by the spiritual depth in the latter po ...more
Mar 06, 2016 Hannah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
Early twentieth-century Japan comes to life in The Gate, a quiet yet powerful novel by Natsume Soseki. A middle-aged clerk, Sosuke, and his wife, Oyone, lead a modest, even humdrum sort of existence. Yet underneath this facade, bitterness and resignation reign. Disappointed by lack of financial success and progeny, the two cling to each other and manage to lead a life of dignity despite poverty and isolation. However, strong emotions lay underneath the calm surface, which create tension that thr ...more
Oct 17, 2014 Trina rated it really liked it
This novel reminded me of an Ozu film -- hardly anything happens, and when it ends, it just ends. It's hard to put out of my mind, though. The modest characters, especially the unsuccessful, lazy and procrastinating husband, are by turns endearing and maddening. The frugal, uneventful life the characters lead is made richer by commentary about the weather: spring, flowers and trees, rainstorms, etc. that the couple observes and discusses. Very Japanese -- maybe TOO Japanese for me! But I can't d ...more
Dec 04, 2014 Lois rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I initially struggled with this one, probably because it was just bad timing for me to be reading something so breathless and suffocating and ultimately hopeless. However, I did enjoy Sosuke's sojourn in the temple and the challenges he faced there - I wish that either that had been a much more significant part of the novel, or that the novel had been written as a (possibly longish) short story instead.
Mar 11, 2016 mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quiet book with subtle plot/character moves that turn out to be tectonic shifts - sort of - as it is said, the more things change the more they stay the same. If you like the films of Ozu (which I do, a lot), you should like this book also.
Soseki is a master at taking the ordinary and transforming it into stimulating life. What's the book about? Nothing and everything. It is life distilled into the fragments and moments and essence of living. Such a masterpiece.
Nicholas During
Jan 09, 2013 Nicholas During rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been thinking about this book a lot recently, and still haven't really come up with a good way to write this mini review. It's a really beautiful and moving book. The relationship between Sosuke and Oyone is wonderful. It makes the reader to cringe to see how close they, how much in love they still are, despite all the hardship and ennui that is and has been their lives together. Most of this comes from the way their love is expressed. This is not a Shakespeare love sonnet. They can barely ...more
Jan 29, 2013 umberto rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, japan
I found reading "The Gate" by Natsume Soseki interesting and consoling by means of his subtle addition of a few words of Japanese Buddhist wisdom and meditation since, I think, its readers would find his narratives and dialogues captivatingly enjoyable. From its inner page, we’re told this is the third novel in his First Trilogy; the first one being “Sanshiro,” and the second one “And Then,” which I haven’t yet read, therefore, in the meantime I can’t assess its theme relatedness from Titles 1, ...more
Rarely does a book end so dramatically with its main character simply trimming his toenails, but in The Gate, Natsume Sōseki has perfected the art of uneventful happenings. Little happens in the way of plot, yet The Gate is an almost riveting novel - the inner struggles and workings of Sosuke's mind provide the novel with a compelling plot in itself. In a novel where even the dog suffers from a nervous disposition and wind is strong enough to send people into depression, the inner workings of th ...more
Sam Hickey
Natsume Soseki has become one of my favourite authors, and quite honestly if one looked at the subject matter of his work, it would be hard to pinpoint exactly why. On the face of it most of Soseki's works deal with subject matter that is incredibly commonplace, but it is in tackling the mundane that Soseki excells, and somehow glosses the everyday with a layer of enchantment and intrigue. This particular story is one of the better examples of this in action, focusing on a young and introverted ...more
Stephen Thom
Dec 17, 2015 Stephen Thom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot to absorb in this book so I'll throw out a quick few thoughts - firstly, after another reading I think it will, to me, be a timeless classic. It has the feel. I am still muddling the ending around my head but I believe it can't be anything other than quietly optimistic and beautiful.

Even if Sosuke's pickles have been resolved by avoidance, and in a less-than-graceful way (by his own admittance) he is at least aware of this. The book paints (as another reviewer has noted) Sosuke and Oyone
Sluggish Neko
Jun 02, 2016 Sluggish Neko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing much happens to Sosuke and Oyone, the happily married couple in The Gate, and yet, the story of their day-to-day life in the late Meiji period of Japan is fascinatingly hypnotic. At first, Sosuke appears to be a serial procrastinator who lives like a human sloth, slow to deal with his younger brother’s tuition problem— in fact, slow to deal with any kind of problem. Yet, at certain times, he’s surprisingly resolute, hinting at the person he used to be before he chose Oyone and suffered g ...more
Diane S ☔
Dec 01, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Was very grateful for the introduction as it explained some of the Japanese culture and how this writer has as much meaning in what is not said as in what is said. Very different read for me, but I did like it. The writing is beautiful and the meaning of this story is universal. After being married for over 19 yrs. both partners are set in a routine and find it hard to deviate from it. Part of this is cultural and part is just the characters. They wonder if this is what the rest of their lif ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
NYRB Classics: The Gate, by Natsume Sōseki 1 11 Oct 23, 2013 10:38AM  
  • A Dark Night's Passing (Japan's Modern Writers)
  • First Snow on Fuji
  • The Wild Geese
  • Quicksand
  • Rivalry: A Geisha's Tale
  • Blue Bamboo: Japanese Tales of Fantasy
  • The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories
  • The River Ki
  • The Broken Commandment
  • The Hunting Gun
  • The Waiting Years
  • As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams: Recollections of a Woman in Eleventh-Century Japan
  • A True Novel
  • Fires on the Plain
  • The Temple of Dawn
  • Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day
Natsume Sōseki (夏目 漱石, February 9, 1867 – December 9, 1916), born Natsume Kinnosuke (夏目 金之助) was a Japanese novelist of the Meiji period (1868–1912). He is best known for his novels "Kokoro", "Botchan", "I Am a Cat" and his unfinished work "Light and Darkness". He was also a scholar of British literature and composer of haiku, kanshi, and fairy tales. From 1984 until 2004, his portrait appeared on ...more
More about Natsume Sōseki...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Under the sun the couple presented smiles to the world. Under the moon, they were lost in thought: and so they had quietly passed the years.” 12 likes
“It was destiny’s role to enforce this repetition; it was Sōsuke’s lot to dodge the consequences.” 2 likes
More quotes…