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Two Daughters of Mr Sawa


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A: Kishida Kunio Pf: 1935, Tokyo Pb: 1955 Tr: 1995 G: Drama in 3 acts; Japanese prose S: Sawa's living room and a boarding house, Tokyo, late 1920s C: 3m, 3f, 1 child (f)Sawa Kazuhisa is a 55-year-old widower, a former vice-consul who has travelled the world and had a chequered career, which included a spell in the Foreign Legion. He now lives in the suburbs of Tokyo with his two daughters in their twenties, Etsuko, a cheerful, traditionally minded teacher, and Aiko, her younger sister, a rather sullen rebel, who works for a record company. A visiting friend Kamiya Nitake suggests that Aiko should marry a young Frenchman of his acquaintance, but Sawa is hesitant about her marrying a foreigner. Sawa tells his daughters that he is now sleeping with their maid Raku. Several days later, Sawa is visted by Tadokoro Rashiki, a sailor who was a close friend of Sawa's son who died at sea. Tadokoro is unhappy that Aiko pretends she cannot remember him. Sawa imagines that Aiko made some sort of promise to Tadokoro; in fact they had sex together on an outing. Aiko's refusal to see him sends Tadokoro angry from the house. She confesses the truth, and, despite the forgiving attitude of her father, decides she must leave the family home. Two years later, Aiko has married the Frenchman, Sawa lives in a rundown boarding house, and Etsuko is having an affair with two teachers at once, and has been asked to leave by her principal. When Etsuko seeks Aiko's advice, her sister laughs at her, feeling that they are now even. They part, never to speak again, and leave Sawa alone in his grubby room.

A: Kishida Kunio Pf: 1935, Tokyo Pb: 1955 Tr: 1995 G: Drama in 3 acts; Japanese prose S: Sawa's living room and a boarding house, Tokyo, late 1920s C: 3m, 3f, 1 child (f)

Kishida was the major pre-war Japanese playwright, and this is his finest play. It gently observes the decline of traditional family relationships in Japan and offers a close-up observation of human behaviour without moralizing. As the Japanese critic Saeki Ryuko says: ‘Everything that happens just happens; the conflict is unclear;…all that we have here is the present.’

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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