Kusamakura, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Literally meaning 'Pillow of Grass', "Kusamakura" is Soseki's portrayal of an artist who opposes convention and logic, and shuns emotional involvement.

Soseki's artist attempts to live as a hermit using other people as his stimuli for his sensations and reflections.

The artist fluently and prolifically composes poetry, but finds himself unable to paint - despite befriending a beautiful young divorcee.

He remains emotionally distanced from her for a long time and it is only one day when he sees compassion in her eyes that he finds himself able to paint her, but also reconnected with the emotional undercurrents he had hitherto tried to avoid, thereby ending his retreat from the world.

Siseko's beautiful and haikuesque novel is infused with his own musings on art and nature, and helped to establish the novel as a major literary form in Japan.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780143105190



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Kusamakura (original title: ??) by Natsume Soseki follows a nameless protagonist on his journey through a tour of the mountains to a hot spring resort, where he meets the daughter of the establishment and has a series of mysterious encounters. In the protagonist's quest to paint the scenery at the resort, Natsume expounds on art and the artist's position in society in a series of dense essay-like meditations. Scattered throughout the story are haikus and poems not only quoted from famous Chinese and Japanese poets but also by Natsume himself.

Kusamakura is a delightful exploration of the nature of art set during the time of Japan's opening-up to the rest of the world during the early Meiji Era, and thus the novel turns inwards to the pristine mountain scenery and silent courtship scenes, invoking the essence of Old Japan on the cusp of modernity.

As Natsume described the novel himself, Kusamakura is "a haiku-style novel, that lives through beauty".

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