Five Women Who Loved Love Rothdas book review RSS
3.2 Stars

On second thought, let’s not go to Japan. ‘Tis a silly place.

A series of 5 short and silly stories about love and folly in feudal Japan. Some characteristic events are: a young married woman accidentally gets in what looks like a compromising situation with a 70 year old married man, and the old man's wife starts harassing the younger woman. Incensed, the younger lady goes on and actually has an affair with the 70 year old. Or, there is an ugly man who has his heart set on a beautiful girl, and he hires a crone to set them up. The crone arranges for the girl to take a trip to various shrines, so that the man can join the girl along the way and make advances. However, when the time comes the girl catches the eye of another man and he also joins the trip, and the two men sabotage each other as the three of them visit sacred shrines. Or a person is making devout prayers to the Buddha, only to see a handsome man walk by. The prayer and then throws their piety to the wind to chase after the handsome man. And so forth.

The stories are amusing, and are notable for being written in the early 1600's. The stories have aged very well, and/or the translator has done a good job of updating them, and you could see any of the stories being a plot line in a modern anime or an episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia. They have an almost Vancian mockery of idealism and the stories that we tell ourselves. One concession the author does make to the mores of the time is that basically all of the stories end in tragedy. The meat of each story is an absurdist love comedy, but then at the very end of each tale the author goes "oh, but they violated the strict social laws, and so everyone involved is executed/commits suicide/becomes a nun." I never placed much weight on this aspect of the stories, and enjoyed them for what seemed like their core.