In what way is Japan described?
The post-war Japan in which Makiko and her son live is described in the present tense, interspersed with the past tense to describe Makiko’s memories. Yoshitsune, for example, is a living presence for Makiko, a memory she perceives "in the honeyed light of prewar years" (paragraph 60). But he is in the past, and her son is "racing ahead" of her. Though she continues to blend the past and the present in her consciousness, she by no means idealizes everything. Thus she recalls an incident with her husband that made her annoyed and another incident in which she was afraid of him. The strengths of the present, as shown in the present tense, are clearly becoming stronger and stronger in her mind, and consequently the past tense will fade away more and more. The story’s last two paragraphs demonstrate Waters’s blending of tenses, beginning with the past but then, in the four last sentences, moving into the future.