The narrator, a well-educated connoisseur of both Asian and Western arts, literature, and philosophy. The narrator has fled the capital with its mundane distractions and involvements for a hiking trip to put himself in touch with nature and regain his artistic perspective. As he says, “an artist is a person who lives in the triangle which remains after the angle which we may call common sense has been removed from this four-cornered world.” Because the artist lacks common sense, he can approach areas from which the average person shrinks in the worlds of both nature and humanity; there he can find beauty. The narrator spends his time sketching, writing poems, philosophizing about art and life, and soaking up the atmosphere in the Shioda family inn at a small mountain hot spring.
O-Nami Shioda, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy innkeeper. O-Nami was forced to marry the son of a rich man of the local castle town rather than the boy she preferred. When the couple’s money evaporated in a business turndown, O-Nami divorced her husband, returned to her father’s home, and engaged in increasingly strange behavior. O-Nami entrances the narrator with her bizarre behavior and frank speech. He is awakened by her singing as she strolls through the garden; later, she enters his room while he sleeps and leaves reminders of her presence. She walks the veranda of the inn in her bridal gown and once...
(The entire section is 514 words.)