Mieko Togan, the daughter of the head priest at a temple in Shinshu and the wife of a banker. She is also a prostitute, a poet, and a teacher of poetry. She bore twins, a mentally retarded girl, Harumé, and a beloved son, Akio. When Mieko appears, her slow and grave gestures refer to another landscape that can be seen only with her metaphysical eye. The subtexts of the novel create the emotional ambience of Mieko’s character, both remote and involved at the same time. Mieko is compared to a large blossoming tree with a voice floating toward Ibuki and Mikamé and having a wordless communication and complicity in crime with Yasuko. It is difficult to plumb the depth of Mieko’s heart. There is nothing more tragic than her immobility, which compares to that of a mountain lake whose waters are rushing beneath the surface toward a waterfall. The secret workings of her mind resemble flowers in a garden at nighttime, filling the darkness with perfumes; her masklike face indicates features but does not identify her as an individual. Her language, conduct, and posture reveal uncanny sensitivity to the slightest nuances of behavior. Despite apparent physical inertia, she evinces gestures of dignity and grandeur. She is in the grip of primeval powers that direct her amorous affairs and those of others. Her delight in poetry and calligraphy, fashion, and a garden with a miniature pond, reflecting the perception of beauty, shifts to a melancholy...
(The entire section is 597 words.)