It took me about 60% of this book “Strange Weather in Tokyo” to start liking it. I mean do I really have to read that much of this book to know whether I would like it or just drop it? Oh, well, this book has more to offer than just being liked.

Title: Strange Weather in Tokyo

Author: Hiromi Kawakami, Allison Markin Powell (Translator)

Published: August 1, 2013 by Portobello Books

Genre: Romance

Summary


“Strange Weather in Tokyo” is about Tsukiko, a woman in her late 30s who meets her high school teacher, “Sensei,” who is presumably 30 years older. This chance encounter becomes the start of their few more encounters between food and sake, where love begins to develop.

The age gap between the characters can be challenging for readers to reconcile, but the book’s nuanced storytelling invites readers to immerse themselves in vivid descriptions of food, drink, and nature, all the while becoming in the bond between Tsukiko and Sensei.

Analysis


“Strange Weather in Tokyo” explores the theme of solitude through Tsukiko’s perspective, despite her interactions with others, she still feels a persistent sense of loneliness.

I had been alone. I rode the bus alone, I walked around the city alone, I did my shopping alone, and I drank alone. And even when I was with Sensei now, I didn’t feel any different from when I did these things on my own. It seemed, then, that it didn’t matter whether or not I was with Sensei, but the truth was, doing these things with him made me feel proper.

This inherent solitude not only permeates the character but also the narrative, evoking a melancholic and nostalgic atmosphere which draw its readers to the emotional depth of the story.

Two years from when we encountered each other for the second time. Three years once we began what Sensei referred to as our ‘official relationship.’ That was all the time we shared together.

In addition to the romantic arc, the author incorporates the generational disparities between the characters. Sensei embodies traditional values and manners in contrast with Tsukiko’s more child-like demeanour from Sensei’s perspective, presenting an intriguing dynamic that readers might find interesting.

Tsukiko, don’t you have a handkerchief?” “I do, but it’s too much trouble to get out.” “Young ladies these days…

The weakness of the book lies in the significant focus on Tsukiko’s feelings towards Sensei, which she couldn’t quite figure out, and Sensei’s struggles and indecision. These elements occupy significant narrative space at the expense of exploring their relationship dynamics in a committed relationship.

The intermittent flashbacks and diversions into character histories disrupt the flow of the story without contributing substantial substance to the character or plot progression and only confuses the reader regarding the timeline.

Furthermore, there’s a noticeable shift in pace towards the latter part of the book. After a slow start, the story concludes abruptly, leaving readers with unexpected developments and a need for closure regarding what happens next.

Recommendation


This book offers a slow-paced narrative with the excellent writing one might expect from Japanese authors. It features a unique set of characters spanning different ages, with readers likely to appreciate how these disparities are portrayed, particularly the well-humoured Sensei.

While some may struggle to accept the dynamic of two people with a significant age gap, the book provides a nuanced portrayal of the characters. It illustrates how their bond naturally leads to the blossoming of love, suggesting that without the age gap, their relationship would be considered normal.

Final thoughts


I love the detailed writing in this book. It was immersive, yet the plot is laid back and can be casually enjoyed.

Let me know how you feel about the ending of this book if you have finished it already, if not, what part of this review has or has not triggered you to read this book.

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