Originally published serially from October 1961 to January 1962. The original Japanese title is Koto 古都, which literally means 'former capital' and refers to the city of Kyoto as Edo (now Tokyo) became the capital in 1868.
First translated into English in 1987, with a new revised edition published in 2006, both by J. Martin Holman.
Set in the traditional city of Kyoto, The Old Capital tells the story of Chieko, the adopted daughter of a kimono designer and his wife. Since her youth, Chieko was told that the childless couple kidnapped her in a moment of profound desire. When Chieko learns unsettling truths about her past, her life of love and affection is thrown into disarray.A few questions to get us started, but please feel free to ask about, or discuss, any aspect of the book.
This delicate novel traces the legacy of beauty and tradition from one generation of artists to the next as they navigate, with an ambivalent mixture of regret and fascination, the complex world of postwar Japan. This simple story of chance, art, and devotion resounds with deep spiritual and human understanding.
Yasunari Kawabata is widely recognized as one of the most significant figures in modern Japanese literature. The Old Capital was one of three novels specifically cited when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968.
What did you think of the story? Did you like it? Was it easy to read, or a challenge?
There were a lot of place names mentioned which would've meant much more to someone familiar with Kyoto. Did that bother you?
What did you think of the translation?
What did you think of the relationships between the characters? Chieko's parents? Chieko and Naeko? Chieko and Shin'ichi?
How was the behaviour of the characters different from what you might have expected? Do you think this is due to a purely cultural difference?
When Yasunari Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, he apparently remarked "that in his work he sought a harmony among man, nature, and emptiness." Do you think he achieved this in The Old Capital?
[Your Question Here]
The Old Capital has been reviewed by:
Absorbed in Words
The Reading Life
We Be Reading
Further thoughts on the book:
Over a Hedge
The Reading Life
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Note: The comments may contain spoilers so if you have not read the book yet, proceed at your own risk.
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