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The Sound of the Mountain

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  5,150 ratings  ·  379 reviews
An alternate cover of this ISBN can be found here.

Ogata Shingo is growing old, and his memory is failing him. At night he hears only the sound of death in the distant rumble from the mountain. The relationships which have previously defined his life - with his son, his wife, and his attractive daughter-in-law - are dissolving, and Shingo is caught between love and
Paperback, 276 pages
Published May 28th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1954)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  5,150 ratings  ·  379 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata

How responsible do a couple approaching retirement age remain for their adult children? That’s the basic theme of this story. The story is set around the time of the end of the American occupation of Japan, so say early 1950’s.

This Japanese couple has a son and a daughter and both are currently living with them due to marriage problems. The daughter has her own daughter and the son and daughter-in-law both have moved in, partly for financial
It’s been a while since I’ve written any reviews, for I always kept postponing them for one reason or another however the book- The Sound of the Mountain - has pushed me so hard to overturn this, for it was so compelling, that’s why I made an attempt (futile though) to review (or rather to write something) this little gem in Japanese literature, all these things may probably give an impression (perhaps appropriate though) that it’s not like returning back to some arena I enjoy. Well, let’s try ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: japanese whispers
Recommended to Mariel by: the nobel prize judges
Shelves: my-love-life
I started reading The Sound of the Mountain late at night all alone in my bedroom. It kinda scared the crap out of me in the oppressive lonely way I get when I think too much about what other people want from other people. Is it always going to be that way? Trying too hard? Making up stories is more real. The first half I read this lonely way. The second half I read at the beach (my first beach read of 2011). I think it made it a different experience for me to be read that way, where I didn't ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: にほん, yk

As the last smell of spring faded in a flowery envelope at a nearby bin, it was time to bid adieu to Shingo Ogata. I wanted to escape from his loneliness, as if it was mine to hold to; the prospects of designing uncharted ideas somehow enticed me more than Mr. Ogata. Unaware of my goodbyes, Shingo sat in his veranda, greatly immersed in a probability of a possible quarrel between the sparrows and the buntings nestled in the majestic gingko tree. All he heard was the peculiar yet familiar roars
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Kawabata uses Ogata Shingo as his narrator and prime character to tell the story of a 62-year-old man immersed in unhappiness, who feels death closing in on him. Shingo lives with his wife, Yasuko (the plain sister of the beautiful woman who was, in his youth, his one true love); his son, Shuichi who ignores his wife for his mistress; and resentful daughter whose own marriage has failed. He has long ceased to love Yasuko, more highly regarding the relationship with his young and innocent ...more

Seemingly nothing is happening. Shingo Ogata goes to his office , on his way back does shopping, for a while thinking about the girl who used to work for him but now apparently forgot her name. Nothing special .Ordinary life.

But something’s happened. Shingo heard a sound of mountain and its voice awaked in him old memories .Its sound symbolizes impending death.

Shingo takes us then on a nostalgic journey to the past,to the world of memories and unfulfilled dreams .Painfully aware of loss so many
Lynne King
Sep 14, 2016 rated it liked it
The theme of death permeates this lyrical and poetic book. It is as if the author is preparing himself for his own demise, especially running in tandem with another theme, that of suicide. And that Kawabata is in fact searching for a way in which to make that ultimate separation from life as we know it on this planet of ours. Thus I was not at all surprised to read that Kawabata committed suicide in 1972.

There are distinct pros and cons to this work and regrettably the latter prevail.

Paul Christensen
Jul 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shingo hears the mountain roar.

Shingo asks a woman out to dance.

Shingo’s son is clawed in a storm.

Shingo’s old acquaintance goes to the grave unknowing.

Shingo has a dream of renewed youth beyond the ‘moss-grown shell of the ego’.

Shingo hears more roaring coming from the mountain.

Shingo drinks from an antique well.

Shingo hears a groaning in the night.

Shingo thinks old women more ‘fertile’ than younger ones; his nipple itches.

Shingo is aghast at his daughter-in-law’s abortion.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite
The sound stopped, and he was suddenly afraid. A chill passed over him, as if he had been notified that death was approaching. He wanted to question himself, calmly and deliberately, to ask whether it had been the sound of the wind, the sound of the sea, or a sound in his ears. But he had heard no such sound, he was sure. He had heard the mountain.

This is an intricate, poetic, beautiful novel which my clumsy review cannot do justice to. It is highly sensory and satiates all the five senses. I’m
Stephen P
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The quiet prose and acutely calculated distance, set and carried the first part of this book. The micrometers of measures opened a precise distance allowing the reader, inviting the reader, to slip within. During the second half the narrator, laid there as an obstacle, was sent on an ill fated mission to rev-up events Becoming pesky and sliding into a troublesome invasiveness. Possibly the contrast accents it more or is it intended and I have missed its calling?

A sixty two year old man,
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am currently caught in a Kawabata spell. WilliamI put a list of four Kawabata books into a review and I bought them all. I will take a Kawabata a break because I don't want to overindulge but the urge is strong to go on the fourth.

Kawabata writes ambience. He writes inner thoughts. He writes of outer change and reaction. Often little is outwardly happening but the world of change swirls around the reader who is caught up in the web Kawabata has so carefully created. The reader cannot escape,
Oct 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this book shortly after finishing Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World. Both books cover similar ground: a man in the twilight of his years reflecting on his past. I was going to write a review about how the book deals with old age and coming to terms with our life, about how Kawabata writes luminous prose with each chapter a beautiful image fading into the next.

But then I read a comment by Ishiguro. He said he didn’t get Kawabata because he was too plotless, too Japanese.
Inderjit Sanghera
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Sound of the Mountain’ is perhaps the weakest of Kawabata’s great works; perhaps because it typifies a lot of the negative elements of his work. Weird characters whose neuroses and fantasies are so unrelatable that the reader feels slightly disengaged, a kind of kooky dialogue which sounds more like the broken thoughts of the demented than real human dialogue and a sense of detachment which renders the inner lives of the characters to be slightly incomprehensible.

Yet the latter at least is
Raul Bimenyimana
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Shingo is a, self-described, office worker in his sixties. He loves the picturesque, is also committed to the welfare of his family. In other words, a very ordinary man who one might argue has been made sentimental with age.

Kawabata however tells a beautiful story through this ordinary character, and through his family. Of a paterfamilias who looks out for his children and grandchildren, who finds beauty in puppies, trees, birds, flowers and people.

An observation I made in the book is the
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recently, after about a year of constant badgering, I convinced a friend of mine to read one of my favorite novels, To the Lighthouse. I figured that once he picked it up, it would need no more selling, Woolf is such an innovative novelist that I could see no way anyone could not fall in love with its lyrical stream of consciousness style. It turns out I was wrong. He hated it. He told me he was bored the whole way through, called the book plotless, and decided that we have very different ...more
Tom LA
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
"The sound of the mountain" was written in 1954 by one of the greatest modern Japanese novelists.

I'm sorry about my 2 star review, I see the quality of this work, but what I am expressing here is purely "how much I liked the book and the reading experience". Not much at all, that is.

To put it in the simplest terms, I found this book incredibly boring. I couldn't care less.

I do realize that if I was a Japanese person, living in the '50s, I would perceive this book as something totally
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-red-circle
I think that the people who make "Mad Men" should go to Japan and make "The Sound of the Mountain" TV series. Everyone would love it. Water coolers across America whould be chocker. It would be similar to "Tokyo Story", but less preachy about old people and with much bigger dramas (gangster son-in-law! What a dream!).
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I don't know where to begin. This is almost devoid of plot. Well, there is really is no 'almost' to it. I should say clearly that there is no plot. It's not as if absolutely nothing happens, it's just that it is the day to day things that happen. Still, in a couple of places those day to day things are not the things encountered in most lives, particularly not in western lives.

Normally I would complain about the simplicity of the prose. However, it was exactly right - pitch perfect, in fact -
Apr 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is like a tea ceremony where simple acts simply and attentively done have both meaning in and of themselves and also suggest a greater meaning. Or imagine taking a haiku and magically transforming it into a novel that still elicits in the reader the haiku's final "ahh." Shingo, sixty-years-old lives with his wife, his son and daughter-in-law. Later his daughter, abandoned, by her husband comes to live with them. Told from Shingo's perspective, this is the story of Shingo's thoughts and ...more
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There are some books you just sit and read with a sense of wonderment. It is, perhaps..., Kawabata's masterpiece.
Neal Adolph
Though I've fallen out of the habit of writing about books that I've finished reading, and though I finished reading this particular book a few weeks ago, I am sitting here on a Saturday night and wanting to reflect back on what was good about this exceptionally good book. But I'll keep this short and sweet.

First of all, it is a true pleasure to read. From first page to last, the writing is flawless and effortless and glowing. There are no exceptionally long sentences, no explorations that push
Bob Newman
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
That's the Sound of Life, That's the Sound of Death

Kawabata Yasunari won the Nobel Prize in 1968 and this novel above all his others, in my opinion, gives readers a chance to find out why. This is a classic of world literature, a work of genius. It is a finely-written tale of family, a simple story about an older man who is fond of his daughter-in-law, though his relations with his own two grown children, son and divorced daughter, are ambiguous. The story line, as in other Kawabata novels, is
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, fiction
3.75 stars

Reading this novel by Yasunari Kawabata, I think, is within its reader's capability since there are 16 chapters, each having its title from Chapter 1 The Sound of the Mountain, Chapter 2 The Wings of the Locust, Chapter 3 A Blaze of Clouds, to Chapter 16 Fish in Autumn. Moreover, in each chapter, its content's divided into mini-chapters denoted by numbers, that is, No. 1-5 for Chapter 1, No. 1-4 for Chapter 2, No. 1-3 for Chapter 3, ..., No. 1-5 in Chapter 16. In effect, this kind of
Kyle Muntz
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
still, contemplative, melancholic, sometimes cruel. a masterpiece
“Even when natural weather is good, human weather is bad.”
Prakash Waka
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Sound of the Mountain, written by the 1968 literature Nobel Prize winner Kawabata Yasunari, is the story of Shingo, a businessman close to retirement with memory and family issues.
This book suffers from several major problems which is a disappointment given how much this book is loved.

The first and biggest problem of the book is the inhumanity of the characters. They don't act like normal human beings, the conversations are completely unnatural and their character has no depth. Their entire
Nov 11, 2013 rated it liked it
I've been racking my brain trying to come up with a single western author who relys as heavily on nuance and understatement as Yasunari Kawabata. Though not my favourite, The Sound of the Mountain is the most delicately rendered of the 4 Kawabata novels I've read so far:

She suggested that they meet at the Shinjuku Garden.
Shingo laughed, somewhat disconcerted at this proposed rendezvous.
Kikuko seemed to think that she had hit upon a remarkably good idea. "The green will bring you to life."
J.M. Hushour
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
A troubling look at aging, loving, and dying as told through the collapse of an old man's family. Ogata Shingo is having failings of memory and hearing strange rumblings from the mountain nearby. He is troubled by passionate dreams and his son's affair with another woman. His daughter-in-law because the object of his affections as he puzzles over the execrable plight of innocence and life. As always, Kawabata is gentle and lilting, as well as dark and tormenting all at once. Expect nothing but ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Japanese literature tends to be a little hit and miss for me, and I was not pulled in at all by Kawabata's The Sound of the Mountain. The first section was rather dull, and I also found the translation too flat and matter-of-fact to suit my personal reading tastes.
Ramona Arsene
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is probably the most beautiful book I have read. Everything flows so naturally, so sadly and life is portrayed so vividly in its breathtaking simplicity.
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Yasunari Kawabata (川端 康成) was a Japanese short story writer and novelist whose spare, lyrical, subtly-shaded prose works won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author to receive the award. His works have enjoyed broad international appeal and are still widely read today.

Nobel Lecture: 1968
“It's remarkable how we go on year after year, doing the same old things. We get tired and bored, and ask when they'll come for us” 31 likes
“They were words that came out of nothing, but they seemed to him somehow significant. He muttered them over again.” 28 likes
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