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What are some symbols in the novel Thousand Cranes?

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Some symbols in the novel are:

1)Yukiko Inamura's thousand-crane scarf.

In Japanese culture, the crane is the famed symbol of longevity, good fortune, fidelity, and happiness. At the beginning of the story, we discover that Chikako Kurimoto, Mr. Mitani's former mistress, has been scheming to marry off Mr. Mitani's son, Kikuji Mitani, to one of her students, Yukiko Inamura.

Chikako's main reason for wanting to arrange the marriage is to spite her rival, Mrs. Ota, also another of Mr. Mitani's former mistresses. In the story, Kikuji finds himself attracted to both Mrs. Ota and her daughter, Fumiko. So, Chikako works to thwart Kikuji's lusts by placing the beauteous Yukiko before him. With her thousand-crane scarf, Yukiko represents opportunity, happiness, and new beginnings. However, Kikuji never manages to free himself from the grip of generational dysfunction.

2)Chikako Kurimoto's birthmark.

Chikako's birthmark is described as a hideous 'purple-black mark.' In the story, Kikuji reminisces about having seen the birthmark when he was eight or nine years old. He remembers that the birthmark had hair growing out of it; the hair had covered Chikako's left breast and appeared to have grown straight into the groove between her breasts. Kikuji's reaction then and now is of 'suffocating revulsion' and distaste. He imagines that any child who has ever nursed at Chikako's breast must have been a monster.

In the story, Chikako's birthmark symbolizes bad luck, corruption, and malevolence. She is described as 'sexless' and masculinized, a 'convenient fixture' in Kikuji's life. In truth, her presence in Kikuji's life is enervating. She schemes to poison Kikuji's mind against Mrs. Ota, who is still beautiful in her forties, and actively works to steer her former lover's son away from both Mrs. Ota and her daughter, Fumiko. During the miai or matchmaking session, Chikako tells Yukiko Inamura to make tea for Kikuji with the bowl originally given to Kikuji's father by Mrs. Ota. So, Chikako's birthmark is a clear symbol of her malicious and hostile nature.

3)The implements of the tea ceremony.

In the story, the tea ceremony and its implements are central symbols. They represent generational links, both in a spiritual and psychological sense. For example, Yukiko serves Kikuji tea from a black, sixteenth century Oribe bowl. This bowl not only symbolizes history and cultural heritage, it also represents the seemingly unbreakable link between Kikuji's father, Mr. Mitani, and his two former mistresses, Mrs. Ota and Chikako Kurimoto. Also, Chikako's appropriation of the Oribe bowl symbolizes her continued, haunting presence in Kikuji's life. The generations are linked, for better or for worse.

Later, Fumiko serves Kikuji tea out of black and red Raku bowls, also dating from the sixteenth century. These Raku bowls are also known as 'man-wife' teacups, once used by Mr. and Mrs. Ota and then, by Mr. Mitani and Mrs. Ota. The fact that Kikuji is now being served tea in them by Fumiko, Mrs. Ota's daughter, implies that Kikuji has taken on the personality and preferences of his deceased father. The teacups represent Kikuji's spiritual connection with his deceased father. He finds himself drawn into his father's world, whether he likes it or not.

When Fumiko later shows Kikuji her deceased mother's Shino tea bowl, Kikuji finds himself fascinated and nauseated by the prospect of drinking from it. On the rim of the cup, there is a red-brown stain, perhaps the 'color of faded lipstick' or 'old, dry blood.' Kikuji eventually tells Fumiko to put away the bowl. Here, again, the bowl symbolizes the inevitable link between the generations that is both cathartic and macabre in nature.

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