Sunday, August 30, 2009
Have you ever looked at the quotes page on the World of Miura Ayako website? Whether from her works of fiction or non-fiction, Miura left behind numerous memorable quotes. Like this one from her autobiography The Wind is Howling:
Back in my room I thought hard. Although my spine was being eaten away by tuberculosis and I stumbled as I walked, we had been blind to its presence simply because it had not appeared on the X-ray. If this ignorance had continued, might not all my bones have been affected? I certainly would have died. And then I thought, "The same could be true of my soul." Maybe I did not realize my heart was being eaten away or how infected I was, simply because I was unaware of my sin. I found this thought very frightening.
--or this one from the as-yet-untranslated collection of essays, Kodoku no tonari (next door to loneliness):
Life is as full of material to learn from as a gravel road is full of stones. Not having gone to school is itself something to learn from. So is poverty, a weak constitution, failure, a broken heart, ignorance, prosperity, and adversity. If you have the will to learn from it, anything can be teaching material.
What passages from a Miura book have left a lasting impression on you? Please share them with us in the comments box below.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Hiroki Meiro (working title of English translation: Endless Maze) is a fast-paced novella about corporate trickery, murder, and revenge set in the '70s, during the peak of Japan's economic boom years, just before the "bursting" of the economic bubble. If some of Miura's weightier novels (Freezing Point, Hidden Ranges) were to be compared to a seven-course meal, then Endless Maze would be a very satisfying afternoon snack. No matter how many times I've read it (even knowing how it ends), it still gives me goose bumps. It is highly entertaining, and thought-provoking without being preachy. And, as is typical of Miura's writing, it has no "happily-ever-after" ending.
Read the summary if you don't mind having the ending spoiled for you, or go to the sample chapter to get a feel for the characters and writing style. Does the sample chapter grab you, or not? Why? I'd appreciate your leaving a comment below.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The Shiokari Pass Museum, established to commemorate one of Miura's most beloved novels, is located next to the Shiokari Toge train station on Hokkaido's Soya line, just north of Asahikawa. Shiokari Toge, the novel that made this section of the Soya line famous, is based on true events that took place there in 1909, when railway employee Masao Nagano threw himself in front of a runaway passenger train to prevent it from hurtling into the gorge.
The building itself is a restoration of the house Ayako and her husband Mitsuyo lived in during the early years of their marriage, and was moved here from its original location in Asahikawa. It was while living in this house that Miura wrote her debut novel Hyoten (Freezing Point) which became a social phenomenon. The museum reproduces the conditions of Miura's daily life during those years, including the small miscellaneous goods shop she managed from the front room of their home. Click here for photos.
The museum is open from the beginning of April to the end of November, every day of the week except Mondays, from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. The admission fee is 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for children. Phone 0165-32-4088 for further information (Japanese only).
Among English-speaking readers, Shiokari Pass is probably the best known and loved of Miura's works. For those who would like to learn more about this book, read the summary on the World of Miura Ayako homepage.