Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Tsugumi" by Banana Yoshimoto

I read Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto in original Japanese.

Maria is a narrator of this story. She has been raised by her mother who is a mistress to Maria's father. She is thoughtful and matured for her age in spite of the circumstances. Upon the marriage of mother and father and her entrance to university, her family moves to Tokyo leaving the memory in the seaside town.

Maria has grown with Tsugumi and Tsugumi's sister Yoko. They are cousins. Tugumi has been so frail since her birth that her parents thoroughly spoiled her by giving in. She is outrageous; she is pale but beautiful, she is mean and rebellious, she provokes fights and lies constantly to leave people around her miserable. While she is so to her familiar people, she is soft and sweet in public. She has double aspects. Maria has disliked her but they become real friends after an incident. Maria admires her at times because Tsugumi can be amazingly kind and true to herself even in the middle of disaster, and is full of energy despite her lifelong illness.

One summer, Maria goes back to her hometown and a bittersweet incident happens. What happens? How will be their frindship? How will Tsugumi's health? I will stop the introduction of this story here. Enjoy reading to see what's going on if you feel inclined to.

I've been a fan of Banana Yoshimoto's books since I read "Kitchen." She shows something fascinating and moving in small things and mundane everyday life with her poetic prose.


  1. Thanks for this. It sounds similar to an English children's story called "Little Plum" by Rumer Godden. I think only one student had read "Tsugumi" and used it to compare with "Little Plum". It was the most suitable comparison of all the students'.

  2. I have no idea about what happens to Maria when she goes back to her hometown. I do not like a sad ending such as Tsugumi's death or breaking their good friendship. Now,I do not undestand
    the real message of this story, but the first part of this story tells us that there is a possibility that people can get to know others and become good friends if the real personality can be understood. My understanding of the story “Tsugumi” makes me warm.

  3. Marc, I'm interested in how the two stories are similar. "Tsugumi" is about growing up and coming of age of two girls who have contrasting features.

    Redrose, as its English title, Goodbye Tsugumi, suggests, it's about different kinds of goodbye (I'd rather say "change"). Ending is surprisingly ......

  4. Long ago, When my elder daughter had the Center exam, the works of Yoshimoto Banana was in the Modern national language exam. She liked Banana Yoshimoto and she had already read many of her works. Thanks to it, she could get full marks in that test. So I tryed to read "Kitchen" at first.I think though the theme may be serious,young people open up a new vista smoothly. A stubborn person like me freshened up.

  5. Sarari, I like it when her philosophy sounds poetic. My daughter likes her works, too. I picked up "Tsugumi" from her book shelf.

    BTW, I get the image of "silky touch", "smooth" or "no regret" from "sarari", not the image of "stubbornness." Actually I didn't know that you were stubborn.

  6. お久しぶりです。





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