pyoka ~]~ okutomi
Nami-ko, a young woman of a noble Japanese family, has recently married the naval officer
Takeo, the only heir of a friend of her father's. The couple is very happy together and Takeo is
doing everything to create the perfect life for his wife, even more so when she contracts
tuberculosis. Takeo's mother, however, sees Nami's illness as a threat to the survival of the
family line. Egged on by Chijiwa, a spurned lover of Nami's and Takeo's cousin, she uses her
son's absence to send Nami back to her family, thus effecting a divorce. Upon his return,
Takeo is furious, but, unable to undo the divirce, he goes off to the front line in the war with
China. Meanwhile, Nami is getting worse, and her only wish is to be able to see Takeo one
This is the best known novel by Kenjiro (pen-name: Roka) Tokutomi. Written in 1899 as
Hototogisu (The Cuckoo), it deals with the life of the upper classes in the early years after the
Meiji Restoration, when Japan was torn between ancient traditions and modern Western
influences. The novel was translated several times soon after its publication. This translation is
by Sakae Shioya and E. F. Edgett from 1904.
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~Y otal running time
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Cover image: The Note of a Cuckoo, woodblock print by Kajita Hanko, 1903.
Cover designed by Availle. This design is in the public domain.