Michelle Kennedy | Content Writer
Hiromi Kawakami wrote The Strange Weather in Tokyo in 2001. This beautifully written, understated love story is set in Japan, and tells the story of two individuals falling slowly, but unquestionably, in love. Alongside this progression, the narrator details rich Japanese traditions according to the season, from mushroom picking to drinking sake in a bar late at night. There is not much plot movement; the plot instead revolves around everyday life, walks through tranquil scenery, eating new foods and romanticising nature. Yet, despite the lack of action, The Strange Weather in Tokyo is able to captivate the senses and take your mind places you may only ever have overlooked with its exploration of relatable circumstances and awkward run-ins.
The love described in this novel is by no means tragic or monumental, it is delightfully realistic: taking readers along as the two main characters struggle to express themselves and act on their emotions. Our two protagonists are relatable characters, Tsukiko and Sensei are both awkward in their feelings and often find it difficult to be physical and emotional with one another. Even though their souls are connecting, there is barely any description of intimacy as we know it in the novel. Instead, it is a more intellectual, personal love that we are exposed to. As we are introduced to them, both Tsukiko and Sensei are drowning in loneliness, so when they meet, readers understand the importance of their found company- to me, that it what this novel is about. Company can completely change who you are and how you see the world. Just as meeting Sensei exposes Tsukiko to new experiences, changing her perspective forever, readers are given beautifully meticulous descriptions of everyday life, changing their perspective on the mundane by presenting them in an entirely new light.
Although this is not a book to look to if you want action and movement, it is the perfect novel to cosy up with. Its gentle approach to a developing relationship across the seasons warms the heart. Here, love is seen as transcendent and bittersweet: the ultimate expression of human connection. Through this steady progression of love we see how two individuals can find comfort just from the knowledge that they are not alone. Readers learn how to appreciate the beauty of the mundane from this novel, the elegance of everyday human interaction and the little things we do for one another. In short, this is a novel that will make you fall in love with love.