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Some Prefer Nettles

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  3,036 ratings  ·  238 reviews
The marriage of Kaname and Misako is disintegrating: whilst seeking passion and fulfilment in the arms of others, they contemplate the humiliation of divorce. Misako's father believes their relationship has been damaged by the influence of a new and alien culture, and so attempts to heal the breach by educating his son-in-law in the time-honoured Japanese traditions of ...more
Paperback, 202 pages
Published September 26th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1928)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  3,036 ratings  ·  238 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-authors
We’re in 1930’s Japan and one of the main themes of the book is how the people, the upper middle business class, anyway, feel torn between modern Japan with all its new western influence and traditional Japan. The author tells us that to be foreign is to court unhappiness. A ferry boat the main character travels on has a “western deck” and traditional Japanese deck. The house of the main character has a traditional Japanese wing and an “American wing.” The main character goes to a house of ...more
I enjoyed Some Prefer Nettles immensely. If you appreciate or seek classic literarary fiction, Japanese novels, a well-formed sentence --and many of them --over plot, ambiguous endings, complex family dynamics, imperfect marriages, and the sound of rain frogs on a summer's eve, you likewise may appreciate it.

For an excellent review, read this from William:
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
By the early twentieth century Japan had for decades been pursuing a policy of industrialization. Generally, this push toward modernization began with the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Now it’s sixty years later, 1928, and we find ourselves near Osaka in the home of Kaname and Misako. For a number of years they’ve been trapped in a loveless marriage. Neither knows how to proceed with the inevitable divorce. They are both stuck and suffering. Kaname, who considers himself a modern man, has even ...more
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, 2018
Japanese is a vague language and they produce vague books. "They prefer their prose to be misty," says the prolific Japanese translator Edward Seidensticker in his introduction, "To suggest more than it says." The great Japanese author Jun'ichirō Tanizaki traces it all the way back to the meandering, oblique Tale of Genji. "We Japanese scorn the bald fact," he says, "and we consider it good form to keep a thin sheet of paper between the fact...and the words."

So here's this thin Jamesian sheet of
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

--Some Prefer Nettles
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Tanizaki is one of the greats in Japanese literature -and the only one that I know who was obsessed with how the West mixed with the old Japanese culture - in its practice as well as its aesthetic. The puppet theater in the novel is worth the price alone, but what is fascinating about this book is how Tanizaki shares his doubts and love of western culture. It was a conflict with him, and this is what makes his literature so unique in Japanese 20th Century letters.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Deliberate with an emphasis on aesthetics.

The blurb gives a coarse approximation of the story, but fails to capture the essence and tone of it. Kaname and Misako's disintegrating marriage is the vehicle for observing a multitude of attitudes in post-Meiji Japan. There is conflict and slippage between the modern and traditional ways, advantages and disadvantages--Tanizaki leaves the reader to decide for themselves.

The power here is the rich and evocative language, the descriptions. This is not
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot of "the grass is greener on the other side" in this short little classic. The question is what side of the fence is greener. There is the west is best or go with the traditional Japanese culture, live life like modern Tokyo or be like the country hicks in Osaka, and stay married where there is obvious love (but no sex) or divorce and proceed into new marriages. Japanese puppet theatre is lovingly featured as well.
Inderjit Sanghera
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The story of the gradual disintegration of a marriage, 'Some Prefer Nettles' is not Tanizaki's novels, but contains moments of beauty and poetry interspersed between pages of often too stilted dialogue. Perhaps the dialogue is purposefully stilted; after all the key theme of the novel is the disaffection between the married coupleKaname and Misako, however their separation is a reflection of wider societal trends which Tanizaki is commenting and reflecting on. Kaname, whose Western sensibilities ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some minor spoilers in this review. Nothing that gives away the main plot, but some characters are looked at in depth and some plot points are mentioned.

“In the beginning there was no east and west. Where then is there a north and south?”

This is the question that is at the heart of Tanizaki’s wonderful “Some Prefer Nettles.” At first, I mistakenly believed that this was going to be another east vs. west style novel, as it was a common theme in Japanese literature during this period.
Apr 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-red-circle
From the first reading, I thought I remembered that the father-in-law and his mistress did the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage, but I was wrong and they do a less arduous 33 holy places on Awaji. Whoops.

In "Some Prefer Nettles" Tanizaki gives us a charming 1930s couple, Kaname and Misako, who are dripping towards divorce. They are thoroughly modern (Western influenced Tokyo types) and they haven't the energy to stop the rot. But then Kaname starts sliding towards Japanification and all things
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-lit

A very touching and incredibly sad story of a disintegrating marriage. Would elaborate but high levels of pharmacopeia at the time allows for little recall. (Million-dollar idea: Remake of Total Recall named Little Recall featuring the talents of dwarf actors exclusively. Nailed it!)

From the beginning to around three quarters of the way through, I had higher than usual hopes for this work. The introduction was largely obsessed with stuffing all its supposed meaning in the last quarter, so up to that point, I was mostly free to analyze via a completely different paradigm, one which proclaimed this novel exceptionally 'modern' in the way of an unusual amount of humanization of certain demographics. However, Tanizaki's own viewpoint, as expressed in his In Praise of
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I'm trying to distance myself from the cultural and time differences I experienced and still, as much as try to, I cannot really say I liked the book. Some Prefer Nettles is not at all a badly written book, but unfortunately there was nothing in the story or characters I could relate to.

Tanizaki tells a story of a married couple that no longer wants to be married, but somehow Misako and Kaname don't do anything towards their official separation. Both husband and wife want out of this marriage,
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, japanese-lit
"The ancients would perhaps have called it girlish sentimentality, this inability to face up squarely to the sorrow of a farewell. Nowadays, however, one is counted clever if one can reach a goal without tasting the sorrow, however slight it may be, that seems to lie along the way. Kaname and Misako were cowardly, and there was no point in being ashamed of it. They could only accommodate themselves to their cowardice and follow its peculiar way to happiness."

A small, beautifully written novel
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
very well written. although the plot didn't contain many twists, i found the reading enjoyable. it really was full of japanese essence in the sense that i felt calm when reading the book; light and calm. the old man who represented the tradional japanese opinions and way of life was an idea of ease to me. i have a feeling that the whole book is just about feelings and atmosphere, rather than about actions, which i liked. it left me plenty of space to think about what was written on the paper and ...more
Oct 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Some Prefer Nettles is the fourth work by Junichiro Tanizaki that I have read. (It was first published in 1928 in serial fashion in a literary publication. The version I read was translated from Japanese by Edward Seidensticker in 1951.) Like Quicksand it has as its center a failed marriage, though of a different kind and among people of a very different sort.

Misako and her husband Kaname got married at a time of matrimonial transition from arranged marriages through family connections or
Gertrude & Victoria
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese-library
Some Prefer Nettles is both a historical account as well as a personal story of struggle between a married couple. Written in Tanizaki's distinctive style, his depiction of life in Japan during the earlier decades of the 1900's is richly textured, beautifully refined, and intimately inviting. Tanizaki masterfully maintains a delicate balance between description and suggestion throughout the narrative.

The story centers around a wife and husband who have decided on a divorce after realizing for
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a very beautiful and simple book about a young man and woman in an apparently loveless marriage, and the hold of Japanese traditions which both comfort and chafe them. The story is told alongside the traditional puppet shows: the ancient stories of the Bunraku puppet shows of Osaka and Awaji island. It was very lovely and touching, much less complex than the Makioka Sisters, which I also love.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recently I read The Makioka Sisters by the same author, and loved it. I enjoyed this short novel as well. I really like Tanizaki's descriptions of Japan, the people, their clothing, the theater (in this case puppet shows), and the cherry blossoms
Miss Cake
May 05, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
some prefer another book.
Spike Gomes
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Less dramatic and magisterial than “The Makioka Sisters”, “Some Prefer Nettles” is the short novel that marked Tanizaki's transition from a writer influenced by Western decadents like Baudelaire to a man dedicated with expressing the ebbing of traditional aesthetic mores of Japan in the modern era. Drawn from his own life, the story is about a husband and wife with nothing in common who wish to amicably divorce and move on with their lives, but hesitate endlessly due to concerns about how their ...more
Craig Jaquish
Jul 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japanese
While reading this I wandered at times from a conviction that this is a truly excellent book, occasionally getting fed up with Tanizaki's prolonged deliberations towards the protagonist couple's inevitable or merely possible divorce. A little fat could have been trimmed from these segments, but hey, it still made for a pretty short read, so little harm done. It wasn't Kaname's (the husband's) vacillating itself that became tedious; clearly this was a symptom of Western culture's influence in ...more
Richard Stuart
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
The human heart it seems, lies. We marry and we tire; no reason is given. What is it that creeps up into our chests and feigns eternity, only to wear out with a conspicuous 'planned obsolescence'?

Clearly, Kaname is at fault here. Misako wants to be loved, physically as well as emotionally. She is rejected by Kaname silently, wordlessly after only a few years of marriage. Is it Kaname's guilt that pushes him to urge his wife to find another? He is clearly hesitant to divorce, but is it out of
Ashita Thakur
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Let me say just one word for this novel: Indecision.
About a relationship that stopped being exciting a long time ago but where the couple are confused whether to move on or just stay where they are and let things happen. Indecision.
About a man trying to be modern in all senses but charmed by traditional life, a japanese man who wears suits to sleep sometimes. Indecision.
A kid watching his parents drift apart, trying to be the glue that binds them together but not really sure about what the hell
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it

Some Prefer Nettles presents for the reader the scenario of a loveless marriage in Japan set in probably the 1920’s (when the book was first published). We follow the main protagonist, Mr Kaname, as he rather passively bumps into various considerations of how to organize his life. How can his wife be best eased into a post-divorce life? How does he tell his child? Should he become the financial sponsor of another woman of dubious ancestry and dubious employment? How does he coordinate with his
Feb 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese, fiction
This story concerns a timeless theme- the cold, slow dissolution of an empty marriage. The story is told by (the husband) Kaname who has accepted the state of affairs and pushed his wife into the arms of a lover via an informal arrangement that he is considering making formal. The story is at once about marital conflict but also a cultural conflict between the Osakan tradition and the emerging modern Tokyo. There are obvious parallels with the authors own life, written two years before ...more
Jul 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-favorites
Kaname and Misako, husband and wife, couldn't bear their relationship anymore. They decided to separate. Misako fell in love with another man; and Kaname, feeling no attachment to his wife, condoned it. Both agreed they need to divorce each other. Tanizaki's novel would have been ordinary soap opera material had it not been for his masterly use of details. His depiction of insular world of puppet plays, of geishas and mistresses, and of the contrasting refinements in the cities of Tokyo and ...more
Sonali V
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had not expected to be so drawn in by this book after reading the blurb. Just because I like to read a variety of writers across countries and genres I decided to give it a try. Also, I am fascinated by Japanese culture. Certainly I am a big fan of Haruki Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro, though the latter cannot be strictly called a Japanese writer. Tanizaki brilliantly captures the angst which comes when you are caught between two things you like/not like, are used to /cannot really accept. The ...more
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Junichiro Tanizaki's "Some Prefer Nettles" is the story of the slow and painful dissolution of a marriage. For much of the story, both Kaname and Misako are paralyzed, each unhappy and wanting the other to take the steps necessary for a divorce.

Unfortunately, I found much of the novel slow and painful to read. I could see what Tanizaki was trying to do -- contrast East and West, show the difference between the view of the virtuous woman and the debased-- I just didn't find it terribly
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Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎) was a Japanese author, and one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki.

Some of his works present a rather shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions; others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century
“[…] we can’t make a decision between being sad for a little while and being wretched for the rest of our lives. Or rather we’ve made the decision and have trouble finding the courage to carry it through.” 11 likes
“Each worm to his taste;
some prefer to eat nettles.”
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