Translation Works
To Japanese
The 1st Selected Works
Tokyo Tango
ENGLISH / Tom Gill published
Originally Published by:
Bungeishunju (1994)
(1997) (pb)
  • A controversial novel presenting the sounds of groaning souls amid the irresistible frivolity of Japan's "bubble economy" period
A story of intense and touching love blossoming in Japan's bubble era of the 1980s
On the brink of Japan's "bubble economy" period in the early 1980s, people's hearts are focused on money and possessions, the streets are replete with previously unheard-of things and fashionable places, and everything is expensive. In this era, university student Saya sneaks away from her parents' home to work as a Ginza nightclub hostess three times a week. Accepting the invitations of lecherous older men, she engages in activities akin to prostitution to earn pocket money and is having a good time with her considerable earnings, but she has a feeling that life is empty and futile. One day, Saya meets a middle-aged man called "Bogichin." Bogichin, who has a distaste for the respectable lifestyle, makes oodles of money working for a dubious investment consultant firm. Saya feels comfortable with Bogichin and soon comes to feel respect and love for him.
The two begin living together in a condominium in Tokyo's Azabu Juban district, one of the bubble economy's major vortexes. All around them are sparkling high-class nightclubs filled with pretentious people and a writhing mass of people addicted to frenzied stock trading and other paths to money.
Amid the ups and downs of Bogichin's business activities, Saya begins to notice that her days are filled with nothing but waiting. She no longer knows who she is or what she is doing, and finds herself at a dead end. Then one day, she meets Kaoru, a man who curates art exhibitions among other activities, and she runs off to New York.
This story of love amid the bubble society is narrated jauntily and calmly from Saya's perspective. A rich portrayal of social customs at a time of unprecedented prosperity, Tokyo Tango is a controversial work that highlights the hysteria and pathos of people during that era.
Genre: Popular fiction