Friday, January 5, 2018

Book Review : Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami


I can't recall when and how it started, but I have an intensifying interest over Japanese literary pieces. In particular, I'm drawn to the segment of light, easy and contemporary reads. While shopping for Christmas presents at Fully Booked last year, I thought of buying something for myself. I didn't find anything interesting at the small branch in Gateway Mall. I was about to leave when I saw the lone copy of Strange Weather in Tokyo. And just because it's Japanese, my impulsiveness hormones worked.



I didn't read any review prior to reading. Either I was lazy or avoided landing on spoilers. Despite being a short read, it took me several weeks to finish. It's not the plot to blame though. It has always been my laziness and sleepiness. :p

The book relates the story of Tsukiko and her Sensei. In a nutshell, it's a May-December love affair between a teacher and a former student. Decades after their last encounter, Tsukiko and Sensei met again, became drinking buddies, friends that was obviously heading to a romantic relationship. If life was uncomplicated, Tsukiko and her Sensei would easily end up together. Unfortunately, happily ever after is not always an easy reality.

Not everyone will like this book for several reasons. On most parts, the events were slow, shallow, repetitive and felt like it was leading to nowhere. However, Hiromi Kawakami left an exclamation on the concluding chapters. The ending was realistic, made sense but emerged unpredictable. My mind was saying, I didn't see that coming. And those who know me, having unpredictable endings is one of my determinants for a great read. 

On the positive side, I love the book because of the immersion on Japanese culture and lifestyle. I almost craved for Japanese food whenever the author starts describing the food shared by Tsukiko and her Sensei. I also like the unique way of how the characters hid, expressed and manifested their feelings. I mentioned to my friend Leah, they have a reserved and intellectual way of flirting. :p 

After finishing the book, I was reminded of those "happiness" surveys, suicide rates and the observations of my few friends, who stayed in Japan. Most would claim that despite its economic advances, many people remain unhappy. I haven't been to Japan but I surmise, the place and it's people may not be sad at all. Maybe, Filipinos are just exaggeratedly happy. :p Being a third world country, it's easier to bring happiness to most Filipinos (i.e. when the MRT successfully and safely transported passengers, humor stories and analogies on malfunctioning trains and not hearing Mocha Uson for several months hahahahaha) Having said these, I guess I gave a semi-spoiler. If I were to summarize, it was another story that emphasized Dr. Seuss' thoughts, don't cry because it ended, smile because it happened.

I'll definitely give 5 out of 5 stars to Strange Weather in Tokyo. It's my first read from Hiromi Kawakami and I intend to check out her other titles. 

5 comments

  1. Hindi pa ako nakabasa ng libro ng isang Japanese writer. Meron pa akong nakitang isa, si Harumi Murakami; kapag nakikita ko yung mga books nya ang kakapal kaya nanghihina ako hahaha! Pero sana makabasa ako :)

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  2. Hi Diane! I've been following your blog and IG for a couple of months now but it's my first time to comment :-P Nakita ko kasing nagiging interested ka sa Japanese literature. Hindi naman ako mahilig pero may mga nabasa akong gawa ni Haruki Murakami. Have you read his books? :) Hindi sya light e, pero unpredictable so baka pasok sa criteria mo :D

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    1. Hi Onie! I'm happy that you took time to read and leave a comment in my blog. I think this is the first time someone told me that they landed here because of my IG account. Thank you so much.

      I read Haruki Murakami's 1Q84. Sadly, hindi ko siya natapos. Believe me, pinilit kong tapusin. Hahahaha Hindi talaga kami meant for each other. Nabigatan ako sa story line. Pero I might check out his other books. Saka lately, mas gusto ko yung light and easy reads. Medyo naseseryosohan or na-o-overanalyze ko ang buhay ko hahahaha so to avoid stress, sa light reads lang muna ako. But thanks for the suggestion. :)

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    2. Sinubukan ko din yung 1Q84 kaso ang bigat ng libro, so next time nalang :-P
      Yes, hindi talaga light mga novels ni Murakami. Though may isa syang memoir (What I Talk About When I Talk About Running) na light lang and nakaka-motivate. :D

      Anyway, cheers to many more books to read! :D

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    3. Hi Onie! Will include that in my books to read for 2018. Thank you :)

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