Translation Works
To Japanese
The 2nd Selected Works
The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P
(Oyayubi pi no shugyo jidai)
ENGLISH / Michael Emmerich published
Originally Published by:
Kawade Shobo Shinsha (1993)
(1995) (pb)
  • Nominated for the 7th Yukio Mishima Prize, given for ground-breaking works of literature
I suddenly realized that the big toe of my right foot had become a penis…
One evening, university student Kazumi wakes from a nap to discover the big toe on her right foot tingling in a pleasant way. Intrigued by the tingling, she looks at the foot and discovers that there is a penis where her big toe should be. Kazumi had been taking a break from the university and managing a matchmaking business together with a friend, but has retired from her management role after the sudden suicide of that close friend and business partner. It was on the evening of the day after the end of the 49-day mourning period following her friend's death that this strange transformation had occurred. Kazumi's big toe is shaped exactly like a penis but does not have any excretory function. It does respond sexually when stimulated, though.
Kazumi's lover, Masao, is revolted by her toe, refusing to touch it and ultimately trying to amputate it with a box cutter. Kazumi flees Masao's room without time to don her shoes, and is saved by Masao's neighbor Shunji, a blind pianist. Shunji is open to all kinds of relationships regardless of his partner's gender, and Kazumi feels a strange infatuation with him. So, the two become engaged.
As her relationship with Shunji deepens, Kazumi learns about the Flower Show exhibition troupe, a group of people with distinctively extraordinary sexual organs. Shunji has decided to play the keyboard to accompany the troupe's stage performances, and Kazumi travels with him as the troupe goes on tour. Kazumi is initially resistant to the idea of exhibitions of sexual activity, but the friendship and love she feels for the troupe members progressively deepens, and she becomes immersed in her life with them. Finally, she resolves to go on stage herself…
GENRE: Literary fiction
AWARDS: 33rd Women's Literature Prize
(Given for outstanding works of women's literature)