Wistful, delicate and beautifully understated, Snow Country is the finest achievement by a figurehead of Japanese prose. Kawabata’s novella of doomed love and the caprices of the human condition may be slight, but there is more emotional resonance buried in its 100 pages than in a dozen state-of-the-nation-sagas.
Shimamura is tired of the bustling city. He takes the train through the snow to the mountains of the west coast of Japan, to meet with a geisha he believes he loves.
Beautiful and innocent, Komako is tightly bound by the rules of a rural geisha, and lives a life of servitude and seclusion that is alien to Shimamura, and their love offers no freedom to either of them. Snow Country is both delicate and subtle, reflecting in Kawabata's exact, lyrical writing the unspoken love and the understated passion of the young Japanese couple.