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„Layers of Tokyo in Nakajima Kyōko's FUTON (2003) and other stories“


Angela Yiu, PhD (Professor, Sophia University, Tokyo)

In 2003, Nakajima Kyôko (b. 1964) made her debut as a writer with the work FUTON (original title in Romanization), a remake of Tayama Katai’s Futon (1907, The Quilt), with an expanded cast of characters that include, among others, an American professor of Japanese literature, his Japanese-American student and lover, her grandfather and great-grandfather in the Shitamachi of Tokyo, and the great-grandfather’s caretaker and her lesbian partner. With a cast that cuts across multiple geographic, temporal, social, cultural, and linguistic dimensions, Nakajima digs deep into the compilation of time, space, memory, history, race, gender, and literary forms and presents layers of Tokyo waiting to be uncovered under a beguiling uniform and homogenous surface. Her other works, such as Heisei daikazoku (The Heisei big household, 2011), Hanamomo mimomo (A tenant building, 2011), and Chiisai ouchi (The little house, 2012), are all extremely different in content, but they explore the common theme of tracing layers of a hidden Tokyo in the memory of the survivors of war and earthquake, in allusions to literary works and non-fiction, and in places old and new that made up the constantly changing and complex metropolis. Using FUTON as a starting point, my paper will explore the way Nakajima Kyōko evokes the history of Tokyo to illuminate Tokyo in 2015.