Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 227
The principal characters of Masks by Fumiko Ueda (who published under the name Fumiko Enchi) are:
Tsuneo Ibuki: He is a young academic and a professor of literature at a university in 1950s Japan.
Toyoki Mikamé. A doctor, he is about the same age as Ibuki and is a close friend of his.
Yasuko Togano. A young widow whose husband Akio was killed in an avalanche on Mt. Fuji.
Mieko Togano. Akio's mother, Yasuko's mother-in-law. She is the editor of a poetry magazine and is an expert on literature of the Heian period (794–1185 CE), especially the famous Tale of Genji.
Harumé Togano. The twin sister of Akio. She is mentally challenged and is kept largely in seclusion. In the story, her mother Mieko uses Harumé in a plot to manipulate Ibuki, who (along with his friend Mikamé) is in love with Yasuko, Mieko's daughter-in-law.
Yu. Mieko's housekeeper and nursemaid to Harume.
Sadako Ibuki. Tsuneo Ibuki's wife.
Masatsugu Togano. Mieko's husband, deceased at the time the story begins.
Aguri. The maid who was Masatsugu's mistress while he was married to Mieko.
Mieko's lover. The actual father of Akio and Harume. He died while serving at the front in World War II.
Dr. Morioka. A friend of Mikamé who relates to him the details of a miscarriage Mieko had suffered in her first pregnancy, which was caused by Aguri.
Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 597
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 consciousness of the transience of human life.
Akio Togan, Mieko’s beloved son, who died in a ski accident on Mount Fuji. He seems to reappear in masks and dreams and to be born again thanks to Mieko’s strategies.
Tsuneo Ibuki, a professor of Japanese Heian literature. He is married to Sadako and is the father of a three-year-old daughter. He falls in love with Yasuko.
Toyoki Mikamé, an expert of psychology and folklore. A bachelor in love with Yasuko, Toyoki observes communication with spirits that depart this life and float ceaselessly through the atmosphere, share the space around the living, and become alive in various masks and costumes and in dreams.
Yasuko Togan, Akio’s widow of a year. She is described as a flowerlike beauty who has just opened her petals. Her study of Heian spirit possession is a continuation of her dead husband’s research. Long after Akio’s death, Yasuko...
(The entire section contains 1404 words.)
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