|About the Book|
When I close my eyes, all I see is clear, bright water. So remarks one of the people whose memories, told in their own words, make up this record of a vanishing way of life in small-town, lakeside Japan. Memories of Wind and Waves gathers theMoreWhen I close my eyes, all I see is clear, bright water. So remarks one of the people whose memories, told in their own words, make up this record of a vanishing way of life in small-town, lakeside Japan. Memories of Wind and Waves gathers the richly detailed stories of thirty-three elderly men and women who spent their lives working on or around Japans second-largest lake, Kasumigaura. Though just forty miles from Tokyo, the area was throughout much of the twentieth century very rural and poor - a world away from the capital that we know today. Many people tell of working late into each night in a struggle to survive, supplementing their main livelihood from fishing with a bit of farming or other work. Yet these are people who lived so close to nature - in some cases literally on the lake - that a great many of their reminiscences are not about hardship but about just how beautiful the place was.Through this rare, rich oral history we come to know a world very different from our own, inhabited by people like the woman who was married off at nineteen to a riverboat captain and was steaming mad to find there was no toilet on board the ship where they were to live, and that she was expected to stick her rear end over the side to relieve herself- or Catfish Kyubei, who, when he dived underwater to catch catfish with his bare hands, stripped completely naked first, to make his body as cold as the fishes so they wouldnt sense his presence.Since the lives of many of the storytellers actually span the twentieth century, these people have been witness to remarkable changes, with much of the work they once did by hand and in extremely difficult conditions having now been industrialized, mechanized, or made obsolete. They take great pleasure in remembering a time when the lake and the lives of the people around it were more closely intertwined.Their stories present a little-known, very human face of modern Japan and, perhaps more importantly, deal directly and in a plainspoken way with the issues that concern us all - family, work, love, and memory.Dr. Junichi Saga is a medical doctor with a general practice in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Lake Kasumigaura. He began taping his elderly patients reminiscences about forty years ago when he realized what a wealth of detail and information they contained. He has published numerous works of local history and ecology, three of which are available in English: Memories of Silk and Straw, Susumus Saga and Confessions of a Yakuza. In his spare time he does ink painting.Juliet Winters Carpenter is a professor of English literature at Doshisha Womens College of Liberal Arts and one of the foremost translators of Japanese literature working today. Her translations include Kobo Abes Beyond the Curve, Fumiko Enchis Masks, Ryotaro Shibas The Last Shogun, Junichi Watanabes A Lost Paradise, and Machi Tawaras Salad Anniversary.