Yoshio Eguchi, a sixty-seven-year-old man. A light sleeper with a tendency to have bad dreams, he apparently has had several affairs and remembers the “ugliness” of spending nights with tragic, sad women. Given the opportunity to sleep next to young virgins, heavily drugged and therefore incapable of revealing anything about their lives, he longs for more than the physical touch he is allowed. In the five nights that he spends with six young women, he relives events in his life, all seemingly randomly evoked associations with each woman. Although conscious of the “dreariness” of old age and approaching death, he is indignant about the cavalier attitude to death he finds in the establishment.
Kiga, Eguchi’s friend, who introduces him to this special house for older men. Kiga describes the experience of sleeping next to a drugged young woman as “sleeping with a secret Buddha.”
The Woman, the unnamed manager of the house, a small woman in her mid-forties with thin lips, a youthful voice, and a calm and steady manner. Polite but firm, she serves Eguchi tea and delivers clear instructions about the strict rules of the house before taking him up to the room with red curtains where he sleeps with a young girl. Her cold efficiency is epitomized by her quick action in removing dead bodies to another establishment and by her ruthless advice to Eguchi to...
(The entire section is 507 words.)