[All the Lovers in the Night] Mieko Kawakami: Superimposing the Light and the Self in the Midnight of Winter

This article can be read in about 21 minutes.

I was looking for other books by Mieko Kawakami, who won the 138th Akutagawa Award for “Milk and Eggs,” and this one caught my eye when I was browsing on Amazon.

I found the tranquil beauty of a winter midnight and the delicate way in which the author delicately captured the subtleties of the protagonist’s mind, which makes it difficult for him to make his own decisions, to be wonderfully expressive. If it were made into a movie, it would be like a live-action version of Makoto Shinkai’s movie, and I think it would be well-received.



I wonder why midnight is so beautiful. I am not even confident enough to exchange words with people. It was during these days of proofreading in an empty room that I met Ms. Misuzoku. The ultimate love story depicted by the Akutagawa Prize-winning author offers an irreplaceable light to all those who are lost in their hearts. A full-length novel.

Superimposing the self on the midnight light of winter

Fuyuko, the 34-year-old protagonist, is smothered and talked about behind her back at work because she has trouble exchanging words and having normal conversations with others. She feels that there is no one to affirm her, but on the night of her own birthday, Christmas Eve at the age of 25, just after 11 p.m., she suddenly decides to go out for a walk in the middle of the night.

The December air was tense, but everything in sight (plastic bottles, empty cans, telegraph poles, etc.) was unusually clear, and it seemed as if they were saying something only to her, and only the night light was secretly celebrating her birthday, and Fuyuko became interested in the “light of winter nights” from then on Fuyuko has since become interested in the “light of the winter night.

The light at midnight is special because when the great light of day has gone, the remaining half shines with all its might.

All the Lovers in the Night

Although he did not fit in well in the real world and felt suffocated, he was a serious person and was facing his job as a reviewer directly, and he was doing his best to make a living. I may be overthinking it, but I felt it.

He felt the same winter light when he met 58-year-old Ms. Misuzoku at a culture center for the first time, and he unknowingly fell in love with her.

From the shoulders to the back of Ms. Mitsuzoku’s white polo shirt, it appeared to be faintly white and luminescent.

All the Lovers in the Night

Fuyuko usually does not talk about herself or her doubts herself, but perhaps it was Ms. Misuzoku’s atmosphere of simply accepting her at the same pace without denial that made her do so, and Fuyuko began to open up to Ms. Misuzoku. Perhaps she began to feel that Ms. Mitsuzuka was one of the few people who affirmed her, and at the same time, she fell in love with her.

The beginning of his feelings of love for Ms. Mitsuka is also delicately portrayed.

The beginning of my feelings of love for Mr. Sansoku and his approach to me are delicately portrayed.

Fuyuko wants to see Mr. Misuzoku but can’t act on it, but she can’t get it out of her head, so she is out of her mind when she is working. She writes an e-mail after three days of hard work, and with the help of alcohol, she sends it to Ms. Misuzoku with the feeling that she can’t care anymore. When Mr. Misuzoku called me, I was so upset that I repeatedly stomped my feet and spun around on the spot while the ringtone was ringing, and when I realized it was off, I rushed to call him back. The description of these areas is very careful.

Then comes the scene where, although I am afraid to ask, I directly ask Mr. Sansoku whether he likes me or not.

……I don’t care what kind of Fuyuko-san you are, I love to meet and talk with you.
I was about to say, “I am,” but I couldn’t finish the next word.
The sound of the rain, which was getting louder and louder, filled my lungs, and it was choking me with a kind of trembling that had yet to become words. I slowly reached for my shoulder bag, slung it over my shoulder, and stood up quietly. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

All the Lovers in the Night

If you read just this part, you might think, “What! I like him, and he likes me, and he says he likes me too, so I should be insanely happy, so why am I acting like this?” I think, “Why is he acting like this?

Fuyuko tells Mr. Misuzuka that she also likes him, but she does not know what lies ahead; perhaps he has a wife or girlfriend, and even if they were both in love by all means, they might not be able to be together, or the relationship might end. He becomes delusional and becomes a cul-de-sac and runs away from the confession scene himself.

Since she had never actively made any choices on her own before, for Fuyuko, telling Ms. Mitsuzoku how she felt would be the first time for her to act on her own initiative, and of course, there was the possibility of being hurt as a result, which she was afraid of, so she second-guessed the decision.

Then, for a while, I was in a state of inertia, unable to do any work, until one day, when I realized that I was in a state of inertia, unable to do any work,

I wondered if I had ever chosen anything in my life.
I wondered this as I stared at the cell phone between my hands. I wonder if this job, living here, being alone like this, and the fact that there is no one to talk to, are all the results of me choosing something.  I heard a crow cawing somewhere in the distance, and I looked at the window. Then I realized that I had not chosen anything.

All the Lovers in the Night

You will think.

This part of Fuyuko’s change of heart is also carefully depicted. And finally, with the help of alcohol, a change of clothes, and a hairdresser to do her makeup, which she does not usually do, she has a clear makeup face that gives her more willpower and is ready to go from the outside

Ms. Mitsuzuka, I love you, Ms. Mitsuzuka.

All the Lovers in the Night

and tell him or her directly. When I tell him, tears naturally flow.

It was at this time that I learned for the first time that crying while being watched over by someone else was such a pleasant feeling.

All the Lovers in the Night

This scene made me feel as if I were watching a newborn fawn trying its best to stand up on its own, and I couldn’t help but want to cheer it on, “Go for it, Fuyuko! I couldn’t help but feel like cheering her on.

The clash between Fuyuko and Sei at the climax

The climax of the story involves a clash between Fuyuko and her work colleague, Sei, who is the complete opposite of Fuyuko, apart from her love for Ms. Mitsuzuka.

At first glance, Sei, who expresses his opinions and challenges his colleagues and superiors, is portrayed as the complete opposite of Fuyuko, who is not assertive at all.

However, when it comes to love, he has a platonic love life where he does not get too deeply involved with a particular person. If he steps too far into a relationship with someone, he may get himself hurt, so he maintains an easy distance, not getting attached or detached.

The reason is that work seems to be a relationship issue, but it is not, but rather a system or situation issue. I see, in work, we have a common goal, and we can talk to others without getting emotionally involved, with the justice of getting things done without a hitch, so unlike love, we can avoid getting hurt.

No, it’s not. Generosity sounds like a big deal, but I don’t have to think about so many troublesome things. With that kind of partner, I don’t get hurt by the slightest thing. It’s okay as long as you only share the fun stuff with them.

All the Lovers in the Night

On a quiet note, there was a similar scene in the drama “Kocchi o muite yo mukai kun.

Finally, Fuyuko meets Sei on her way home from confessing her feelings to Mr. Mitsuzuka.

As for Saint, I want to know whether Fuyuko confessed to Ms. Mitsuzuka in the end, what was the result, and what kind of love life she is going to lead or wants to lead, but I am frustrated by Fuyuko’s answers as vague and bewildering.

I think you like it easy, don’t you? You don’t have to get involved with other people, and you can complete things on your own. That’s what you like, isn’t it?

Methods? I asked.
In short, you love yourself,” Saint said.

But I don’t know if it’s because you’re afraid of getting hurt or what, but you stay out of harm’s way and let the other person take care of your feelings, and then you get into a sentimental state like a schoolboy and glorify your own desires and feel good about yourself, and it’s really disgusting to watch from afar. Is it so good to be beautiful?  What’s so good about it? You don’t like to be taken lightly? Do you want to be seen by men as if you are protecting something important? Who do you want to be seen as? Do you like who you are? I’m telling you, it’s just grotesque.”

All the Lovers in the Night

In Fuyuko’s case, she is agonizingly delusional and self-contained, not knowing what will happen when she confesses her feelings, and she does not share her thoughts with others. Although their methods are different, they are the same in that they are afraid to get deeply involved emotionally with others, and they keep their distance and process things easily.

This statement by Saint is a boomerang against him and probably emanates from homophobia.

Fuyuko is exactly like the protagonist in “Arrogance and Goodness” by Fukatsuki Tsujimura, a character who is humble but has more self-love than others, and in fact, arrogance can live together.

In response to Sei’s statement, Fuyuko

People’s feelings are more complicated, and relationships are …… more complicated,” I said, at a loss for words.
I said, at a loss for words.

What is important to each person is different,…… and why should I have you tell me I did my best,……?
I checked each note as I said it, as if to myself. It was as if I were saying to myself, “No one said that.

No one said that,” she said, looking at me with a furrowed brow.
I get irritated when I look at you.

All the Lovers in the Night

I say back.

Although they have never chosen anything of their own volition and have lived their lives as they were swept along, they have done their best to work on what they have been given. For such people, taking a step forward by making their own choices is a completely different mentality and requires a great deal of courage. What are your thoughts? What’s going on with you? If you have not made a choice of your own (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course), you may have a vague idea in your head, but it will not come out in words, and moreover, since you are not thinking about anything, nothing will come out.

But, of course, just because it does not come out immediately in words does not mean that the person is living without thinking, and his/her mind is complex and perhaps perceives the world and surroundings more delicately.

However, this is condensed in the words, “I get irritated when I look at you,” from Saint, who is always very assertive, but it seems as if he is not thinking and is just babbling on.

The difference was really nicely portrayed in the climax of the film.

Expressions that I found interesting

Finally, pick up expressions that you find interesting

Indifference with a pinch of malice
Cheap mental celebrity disease
Happiness, or maybe it’s more like fulfillment…
Everything in my head is becoming more and more homogeneous
They mistake boredom and stagnation for peace and security.
They complain, or rather, they petition.
You can’t just answer a question with a question, because that would be adding a dimension. It has to be a question that ends inside the first question.
Taste is something you create in your head, so there is no category yet.
Let’s take a walk in the middle of the night.
Not to be all serious.

All the Lovers in the Night


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