Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Otama’s house

Otama’s house. Residence of the young woman named Otama, located on Tokyo’s Muenzaka Slope. Otama’s lover, the middle-aged moneylender Suezo, carefully chooses the house in which he sets up his young mistress. Situated above Tokyo University, the wooden house sits in a mixed neighborhood. With its carefully designed traditional front garden, granite doorway, and exquisite interior, it previously belonged to a wealthy merchant, whose death puts it on the market. In spite of the house’s gloomy appearance and the noise emanating from a sewing school next door, it is in an out-of-the-way location that is appreciated by the careful Suezo. Suezo also buys the house for its investment potential, as its timber is of fine quality. The house is within easy walking distance from his own family home, so Suezo can visit Otama there on a daily basis.

Because Otama’s traditional Japanese house lacks a bathroom of its own—as was quite common even for expensive houses of its time—Otama is free to travel to a public bathhouse. It is while returning home from the bathhouse one day that she encounters the medical student Okada, with whom she begins a flirtation. However, circumstances prevent them from developing a more serious romantic relationship.

*Shinobazu Pond

*Shinobazu Pond (shee-noh-bah-zew). Pool of water in the middle of Tokyo’s university district designed to give aesthetic pleasure...

(The entire section is 592 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Johnson, Eric W. “gai’s The Wild Goose.” In Approaches to the Modern Japanese Novel, edited by Kinya Tsuruta and Thomas E. Swann. Tokyo: Sophia University, 1976. An excellent examination of the novel. Particularly good regarding the problem of the narrator and the difficulties of interpreting the novel’s symbolism.

Kato, Shuichi. “The Age of Meiji.” In The Modern Years, translated by Don Sanderson. Vol. 3 in A History of Japanese Literature. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1979-1983. Contains a section that examines gai’s life and works. Provides interesting historical background.

Keene, Donald. “Mori gai.” In Fiction. Vol. 2 in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature in the Modern Era. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1984. A fine study of gai by the foremost American expert on Japan. Includes a brief examination of The Wild Geese.

Powell, Irena. “In Search of Logic and Social Harmony.” In Writers and Society in Modern Japan. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1983. Contains a brief but informative section on gai and his work. Especially useful for placing the author and his work in a societal perspective.

Rimer, J. Thomas. Mori gai. New York: Twayne, 1975. A thorough study of gai’s life and work that includes much information about The Wild Geese.