Futon (Japanese bedding) (novel) (蒲団 (小説))

"Futon" is a short novel which was written by Katai TAYAMA. It was published in the August 1907 issue of 'Shinshosetsu' magazine, and later it was included in "Kataishu" (collection of Katai), which was published through Ekifusha.

It is a novel based on the relationship with Michiyo OKADA, who was a disciple of Katai. This work has been regarded as the pioneer of Japanese naturalist literature and "I" novel genre found in Japanese literally works, which is often based on the author's own life. This novel stirred up a sensation in the literary circles and journalism in those days, because the content intentionally exagerated the desire and sexuality in its description; for example, there is a scene at the end of this novel that the main male character smelled the linging scent of his female disciple left on her futon.

There was also a a novel by Ogai MORI, 'Maihime,' (The Dancing Girl) in which the author revealed himself by telling a story of a Japanese man, who fell in love with the German girl in lower class, made her pregnant, and then deserted her; however, Ogai's novel was not as shocking as Katai's work which dealt with the agony of sexual desire caused by the unrequited love toward a female disciple. Fuyo OGURI wrote 'Koizame' in his attempt to follow after Katai's 'Futon' by focusing on the 'love of a middle-aged person', yet this theme was partial compared to the dense themes of 'Futon' and OGURI could not participate in the community of naturalism movement. Since the release of this novel, Katai had been dominant in the literally circle for about three years, but his works were not welcomed very much by general readers.

A sworn friend of Katai, Toson SHIMAZAKI later wrote "Shinsei," which shocked even Katai by the contents of the novel confessing the love affair of Toson with his own niece. However, there is an opinion that the full-scale development of "I novel" began with 'Suspicion' by Shuko CHIKAMATSU and 'Traction' by Sota KIMURA both written in 1913; Katai and Toson gradually shifted from "I novel" and rather aimed at the direction of describing ordinary daily life scenes in a light and even tone.

Story line

One day, a novelist Tokio TAKENAKA, who was about 34 years old and living with his wife and three children, received a letter from a female student named Yoshiko YOKOYAMA asking for becoming his deciple. Tokio, who did not feel like taking her as his disciple at first, came to expect her potentiality as he exchanged letters with Yoshiko, thus she became his disciple and moved to Tokyo. From outside, Tokio and Yoshiko appeared to be a man and a woman on good terms; then Yoshiko's boyfriend Hideo TANAKA also came to Tokyo chasing after her.

Tokio decided to have Yoshiko stay at the second floor of his house, in order to keep an eye on her. However, the relationship between Yoshiko and Hideo was more than Tokio had thought, thus in anger he expelled her and made her go home with her father. Then emptiness of losing Yoshiko made Tokio bury his face into Yoshiko's futon and cry.

[Original Japanese]