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The River Ki

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  262 Ratings  ·  38 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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Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I first finished the book, I was thinking I'd rate it three stars. But after living with it for a few days, thinking about Hana, the story of her family, the picture it painted of Japan over some turbulent years, I had to raise it to four stars.

It had a lot of meaning to me in what it revealed of life in Japan during the course of Hana's life, a glimpse at what life would have been like for my family just a few generations ago. As a woman - a modern woman - parts of it were a little hard to
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Ariyoshi tells the story of 20th century Japan through the lives of several generations of women. The style feels more biographical than novelistic, as she transcribes generational turnover, mainly through the character Hana. It starts off beautifully with a traditional wedding ceremony along the River Ki, of a kind that no longer exists, and brings us straight through to the destruction of Japan due to war. The main theme is about how traditional-minded women are the ones who keep society toget ...more
Gardy (Elisa G)
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giappone
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
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
Christ, why can't these people actually like each other a bit more?:

"Hana bowed her head in silence. A wave of happiness swept over her. A woman who succeeded in winning the affection of her mother-in-law had the family under her control. Any woman would be proud of such an achievement."

Yeah. Whatever.

Anyway ... I thought this would be really boring. I only bought it because I found it for next-to-nothing in a charity shop. But it held my attention and there were bits I really enjoyed.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giappone
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
Mar 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, japanese
I read this one much earlier in the year, and apparently never posted a review of it. Oops. Time to correct that.

The River Ki is something I don’t see often, but I always like in theory. It’s a multigenerational spanning novel. I love the idea of getting a story from a single family as the youngest members of the family at the start become the oldest by the end. It’s an intriguing way to tell a tale, especially if you are dealing with time periods of great change. Well, this is Japan Pre-WWII a
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.
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book. I read in Japanese and there's so much more to it from the conservative time of the first generation towards women to the modern times after the war... Unfortunately, comparing with the English version a little, it seems that the translated version missed lots of details that were existent in the Japanese version. Nonetheless it's a fantastic book to understand how women's positions altered with the modern generations in Japan.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elena T.
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nel 1966, la giapponese Sawako Ariyoshi scrisse il romanzo “Kae o le due rivali” affresco di una società giapponese arcaica e tradizionalista, che vedeva nel ruolo dell'uomo l'epicentro famigliare assoluto e quello della donna come una figura in ombra, costantemente in attesa di agevolare in tutto le volontà dell'uomo della casa.
Ecco quindi come un romanzo del genere si sviluppa in due piani: da un lato abbiamo Hanaoka Seishu, primo medico al mondo ad eseguire un intervento chirurgico in anestes
Elena T.
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Sawako Aryoshi romanza nella sua narrativa problemi significativi come la solitudine degli anziani, gli effetti dell'inquinamento sull'ambiente e quelli legati al cambiamento sociale e politico che pervadono la vita domestica giapponese.

Il Ki è un fiume potente e di rara bellezza, qui rappresenta e rispecchia tre generazioni di donne prima, durante e dopo la Seconda Guerra Mondiale. La storia ha inizio nel cosiddetto periodo Taisho (1912-1926) con Hana, cresciuta e allevata dalla sua importante
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
"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
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Dec 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
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
Jean Hoffmann
Aug 05, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Nov 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, japan
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
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rereading some of my old books, and I decided to pick this one up again. It is a keeper. I remember liking this before and it has kept it's appeal for me. When I read this in my literature class, my professor allowed me and two of my fellow students do a field trip to the sites in the book as our class project and those experiences (and now the memory of that) really brought this book alive for me.
Ad Blankestijn
Kinokawa ("The River Ki", 1959) is the masterful story of three generations of women (Hana, Fumio and Hanako) living from the late 19th to mid 20th century in the countryside outside Wakayama City on the River Ki. The novel explores their changing attitudes and expectations. The novel shows how Hana, a traditional woman, keeps in the shadow of her husband, a politician, but also how she supports him and uses her resources to promote his interests.
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Anna So
Ce livre raconte l'histoire de plusieurs générations de femmes japonaises au cours du début du XXe siècle. On y côtoie à la fois une tradition japonaise prédominante face à la modernité grandissante, incarnées dans des personnages de mère et fille. Il montre différentes conceptions de la femme et de son rôle, ainsi que la notion de la famille.
Jack Coleman
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
An interesting, good book hurt mostly by an outdated translation and awkward writing. Spanning three generations (though largely focused on the latter two through the eyes of Hana, our representative from the first generation), we follow a Japan of changing times and attitudes towards women. Full review here:
Christie Ervin
Jun 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 24, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
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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
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