Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Kazu Fukuzawa

Kazu Fukuzawa, owner of the After the Show Retreat in Setsugoan. Kazu lives remote from civilized and noisy life, on the high grounds in the hills near Tokyo. In both her garden and her restaurant, every detail is calculated to please and soothe the eye. Seeking to combine rustic simplicity with elegance and aesthetic sense, Kazu hopes that her garden conveys a sense of detachment from worldly pleasures. Her natural state is ecstatic wonder, and she exudes love as the sun gives out heat. Her energy is an eternal delight to her visitors. Her harmonious life is challenged when she marries Noguchi. Although at times she identifies herself so deeply with the political views of her husband’s party as to forget herself as an independent individual, she gradually becomes like an actress playing a role in a play based on the ideology of the radical party. In the end, however, she chooses not to submit to the dictates of society, politics, or even her husband. Instead, she returns to her sources of spiritual solace: her garden and restaurant.

Yuken Noguchi

Yuken Noguchi, an intellectual of the radical party. Although he is married to the peaceful Kazu Fukuzawa, Noguchi seems to be in total disharmony with himself, with society, and with nature. He hides behind an ambiguous smile, laconic conversations, artificial attitudes, cold manners, acidulous reactions, and expressionless eyes. His stingy frugality...

(The entire section is 457 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

This is primarily a two-character novel based on the tension between the intuitive warmth and vitality of Kazu Fukuzawa and the cold and lofty ideals and principles of Yuken Noguchi. Secondary characters such as Soichi Yamazaki and Genki Nagayama are merely representatives of political positions of the Japanese radical and conservative parties respectively. Both are primarily defined in the novel by their relationships with Kazu, for she conspires with Yamazaki for Noguchi’s election and consults with Nagayama, an old ally who ultimately betrays her. Both men understand her better than her husband does. Precisely because Kazu does not become sexually involved with either man, she can be comfortable with them. At the conclusion of the novel, there is some indication that Yamazaki will begin to play a more involved role in her life, with her divorce from Noguchi and the reopening of her restaurant.

Noguchi is representative of the old moral virtues; yet he is more European in his ideals than he is Japanese, filling his library with German books and his head with Western ideas. As a former ambassador and a member of a noble family, he condescends to Kazu and patronizes her, as he does the common people in general. He is driven mainly by logic and by principle and very little by human emotions. His old-fashioned view of the passive role of woman makes his marriage to Kazu an obvious mismatch which generates the basic conflict in the novel.

Kazu, on the other hand, is a...

(The entire section is 610 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Keene, Donald. Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era. Vol. 1, Fiction, 1984.

Miyoshi, Masao. Accomplices of Silence: The Modern Japanese Novel, 1974.

Nathan, John. Mishima: A Biography, 1974.

Petersen, Gwenn Boardman. The Moon in the Water: Understanding Tanizaki, Kawabata, and Mishima, 1979.

Scott-Stokes, Henry. The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima, 1974.