Translation Works
To Japanese
The 3rd Selected Works
Flowers of Grass
(Kusa no hana)
ENGLISH / Royall Tyler published
FRENCH / Ko Iwatsu & Yves-Marie Allioux
GERMAN / Otto Putz published
Originally Published by:
Shinchosha (1954)
  • A work that consolidated the literary reputation of a leading fiction writer and poet of the post-war era
  • A masterpiece of "sanitarium literature"
I was lonely. And in my loneliness, I was conscious of my guilt.
This is my second winter at this sanatorium on the outskirts of Tokyo. I suffer from tuberculosis. My roommate, Shigeshi Shiomi, is being very problematic – attempting suicide, smoking within the sanatorium, and so on. In yet another suicidal act, Shiomi decides to undergo a pulmonary lobectomy, an operation known to have a low success rate. The day of the operation, Shiomi hands me two notebooks, saying, "I think you are one person who would understand." Then he dies during surgery.
The two notebooks contain accounts of events that took place in the spring of Shiomi's 18th year and the autumn of his 24th. At 18, he falls in love with Shinobu Fujiki, a boy one class below him. For Shiomi, this is not a temporary infatuation typical of adolescence, but pure love toward what he sees as the inner beauty of Shinobu's soul, and he suffers from it. Shinobu, when he learns of Shiomi's feelings, pushes him away saying he does not have a need for a "special friendship." Thus, Shiomi's love comes to an end, unrequited.
Six years later, when Shiomi is 24, he falls in love with Shinobu's younger sister, Chieko. Shiomi was originally driven to frequent the Fujiki residence by a sense of obligation to look after Chieko following the untimely death of her brother, but he begins to be aware of her as a woman as she grows up. Worry that he could be drafted into the military at any time causes Shiomi's affection for Chieko to further increase, and this becomes his only source of joy. However, Chieko also pushes him away, saying it would be better if they stopped seeing each other.
Shiomi supposes that his love for Chieko will fade with the passing of seasons, as his passionate love for her brother Shinobu has. Instead, he finds it only increasing in intensity. At this point, he receives his draft notice.
I write a letter to tell Chieko, the only woman Shiomi had come to love during the course of his youth, about the contents of the notebooks. After reading them, Chieko is powerfully moved…
This is a timeless masterpiece that portrays the loves and death of a young person with a desperately lonely soul.
GENRE: Literary fiction, sanatorium literature