Snow Country, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Shimamura is tired of the bustling city. He takes the train through the snow to the mountains of the west coast of Japan, to meet with a geisha he believes he loves.

Beautiful and innocent, Komako is tightly bound by the rules of a rural geisha, and lives a life of servitude and seclusion that is alien to Shimamura, and their love offers no freedom to either of them.

Snow Country is both delicate and subtle, reflecting in Kawabata's exact, lyrical writing the unspoken love and the understated passion of the young Japanese couple.


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I absolutely loved this book. On the surface, nothing much seems to be going on. Shimamura, a man of leisure who has inherited so much wealth that he doesn't need to work, spends long stretches of time in a hot spring town with Komako, a local geisha, leaving his wife and children in Tokyo. Neither Shimamura nor Komako know or will acknowledge what they want from life. Both lack energy, drifting along, reacting to events rather than controlling them, or controlling them through inaction. Beneath the surface is the potential for passion, but neither possesses the motivation to act. The book is dreamlike in the way it jumps around and seems to have meaning without saying anything clearly. The dysfunctional relationships across the piece intrigue and frustrate equally. The prose is beautiful, with rich descriptions of time and place, like an extended haiku. I found it quite cinematic.

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