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IN A GROVE by: Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Transcript of IN A GROVE by: Ryunosuke Akutagawa
The Japanese people celebrate many festivals, most of which are of the Buddhist and Shinto religions. Different temples or shrines across Japan have their own specific Matsuri or festive holiday. Some festivals that began long ago are also celebrated today in a modern form. These include Aomori Nebuta Festival, the Hadaka Matsuri Festival and the Cherry Blossom Festivals, which are an integral part of Japanese culture.
Japan is known for its unique culture and heritage, which has been preserved by the Japanese people since ancient times. The age-old Japanese traditions and customs which give a unique character to the lifestyle of the Japanese people have to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Some of the unique aspects of Japanese life are mentioned here as an introduction to the traditions of Japan.
The original Japanese gardens were inspired by Buddhist and Chinese philosophy and later evolved to have their own distinct Japanese identity. The gardens found in Japanese temples and shrines are inspired by the Shinto religion and the belief in an ideal state of harmony. The Japanese attempt to recreate this idealized harmony in their beautifully designed gardens that include aspects such as water, rocks, gravel, moss and miniature plants or Bonsai. One of the most famous Zen Rock Gardens in Japan is the Ryoan-ji Zen Rock Garden in Kyoto.
The traditional Japanese costume, the Kimono, is a graceful full-length robe that falls from the wearer's shoulders to their ankles. The robe is tied around the middle with a sash called the Obi. Kimonos for special occasions were made of rich fabric such as silk, satin and brocade and feature designs inspired by nature such as Cherry blossoms, autumn leaves, butterflies and pine trees. Kimonos are now worn mostly for ceremonial occasions and events such as festivals and marriages.
Were a traditional warrior class in pre-industrial Japan, who were easily recognised as they were the only men allowed to carry two swords. Samurai were committed to a single daimyo (normally a wealthy leader).
Cherry Blossom Festivals
Every year in Spring the Japanese people make time to appreciate the beauty of nature as the Cherry trees burst into full bloom and their lovely pink flowers offer a wonderfully appealing sight. People picnic in the Cherry groves, drink tea and Sake and enjoy music in the delightful ambience of the blooming Cherry flowers. The Cherry Blossom festivals at Okinawa and at Matsuyama Castle in Ehime prefecture are the best-known among many flower festivals across Japan. The natural beauty of the Cherry blossom season is celebrated by the Japanese in their art and music, and even in the designs of their traditional clothing, the Kimono.
IN A GROVE by: Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Traditional Japanese Architecture has a distinct style deeply influenced by the religions Buddhism and Shintoism. Houses and temples made of wood, placed on stilts to raise them above the ground, and with sloping roofs made of thatch or tiles create a distinctive silhouette in traditional Japanese architecture. The use of lightweight wood and bamboo to create Fusuma (sliding doors) and straw or woven grass to create Tatami (mats) are other unique features of Japanese architectural design. People usually sat on the floor and furniture only came into widespread use after the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Japanese Tea Ceremony:
The Japanese ceremony of preparing and offering tea to revered guests is a formal and stylized ritual, almost like a meditative performance. The art or skill of preparing tea and all the elements of the tea ceremony have special and symbolic meaning. Deeply influenced by Zen Buddhism, the Japanese tea ceremony has evolved into a cultural ritual which means much more than the mere sampling of powdered green tea, and is a unique part of Japanese traditions.
Japan is an island nation and seafood plays an important role in Japanese cuisine. Rice and fish along with vegetables are eaten by most Japanese. Tofu or soya bean curd is another popular and healthy dish often consumed by the Japanese people. Japanese food such as Sushi (rice flavoured with vinegar and combined with seafood or seaweed and sometimes vegetables) and Sashimi (cut and sliced raw meat, usually seafood) are forms of Japanese cuisine that have become famous worldwide. Teppanyaki or food cooked on an iron griddle is another popular form of Japanese cuisine. Sake or Japanese rice wine is also drunk at traditional meals as a toast to the health and long life of one's dining companions.
The Japanese script consists of characters which were traditionally painted using smooth brushstrokes on handmade paper. The fine art of calligraphy requires many years of practice and was considered essential learning for an accomplished person in Japanese society.
The Japanese cultural practice of flower arrangement is a fine art that encompasses the ideas of aesthetics, spirituality, discipline and harmony with nature. It is believed to have evolved from the Buddhist practice of offering flowers in memory of those who have passed away. The emphasis on minimalism, attention to the line and form of the plants or flowers used in an arrangement and the harmony of the overall arrangement exemplify this Japanese tradition.
About the Author
These meetings led to Hana ("The Nose", 1916), which was published in Shinshicho. Akutagawa followed with a series of short stories set in Heian period, Edo period or early Meiji period Japan. These stories reinterpreted classical works and historical incidents.
Examples of these stories include: Gesaku zanmai ("A Life Devoted to Gesaku", 1917) and Kareno-shō ("Gleanings from a Withered Field", 1918), Jigoku hen ("Hell Screen", 1918); Hōkyōnin no shi ("The Death of a Christian", 1918), and Butōkai ("The Ball", 1920).
Akutagawa was a strong opponent of naturalism. He published Mikan ("Mandarin Oranges", 1919) and Aki ("Autumn", 1920) which have more modern settings.
In 1921, Akutagawa interrupted his writing career to spend four months in China, as a reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun. The trip was stressful and he suffered from various illnesses, from which his health would never recover. Shortly after his return he published Yabu no naka ("In a Grove", 1922).
About the Author
He is regarded as the "Father of the Japanese short story" and Japan's premier literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, is named after him.
n 1914, Akutagawa and his former high school friends revived the literary journal Shinshichō ("New Currents of Thought"), publishing translations of William Butler Yeats and Anatole France along with their own works.
Akutagawa published his first short story Rashōmon the following year in the literary magazine Teikoku Bungaku ("Imperial Literature"), while still a student. The story, based on a twelfth-century tale, was noticed by author Natsume Sōseki. Encouraged by the praise, Akutagawa thereafter considered himself Sōseki's disciple, and began visiting the author for his literary circle meetings every Thursday. It was also at this time that he started writing haiku under the haigo (or pen-name) Gaki.
A woodcutter found a dead man’s body in the grove. The body was lying flat on a bluish silk kimono with a single sword stroke wound on its breast. But there was no sword found nearby.
The testimony of a travelling Buddhist says around noon he saw on the road to Sekiyama the man with a swords as well as a bow and arrows, he was accompanied by a woman on horseback and he remember that the man carried twenty arrows in its quiver.
A Policeman arrested a notorious thief called Tajomaru. He accused Tajomaru was the murderer because of the evidence found in him which he has the posession of the dead man’s sword as well as the bows and arrows however the quiver only contains 17 arrows.
The confession of the woman is she tried to run towards to her husband but she was knocked down by the thief. As she saw her husband eyes was only a cold light and look of loathing and she fell unconscious. After a while she only saw her husband still bound on a tree and the thief is gone.
She told to her husband that she cannot live with him anymore as well her husband must die too because he saw her shame. She look for his sword but couldn’t find anything, it was taken by the robber, but fortunately she saw her small sword lying on her feet. she stabbed it through his husband’s kimono into his breast. After that she untied her husband dead body. She tried to commit suicide but it always failed.
Last story of a murdered man through a medium: After he saw her wife violated, the robber began comforting his wife then the robber finally propose to become her wife. Masago agreed which the robber needs to kill Takehiro. But the robber refuse it because of dishonorable manner of the wife. Masago ran away then the robber untied Takehiro and ran away, When the robber left Takehiro saw the small sword and Stabbed it to his own breast however he didn’t feel pain but a full of darkness of space in heart.
The Old Woman Identifies that she is the mother of the missing woman named Massago and ask for a help to the police to find her daughter, her daughter was a fun-loving 19 year old girl and married to Kanazawa no Takehiro, a 26-year-old samurai. The old woman insist the her daughter has never known any man except Takehiko.
Tajomaru admit the he killed Takehiko but not the woman because he wants to capture the wife of the man. So he lure the couple into the mountains by lying to them that there are swords and mirrors intented selling it to them at low price. He Lured Takehiro in the grove and when they are place where number of cedars grew, he surprise attack Takehiro that led takehiro tied up in a tree.
Tajomaru ask Massago to see his husband, when Massago saw her husband tied in the tree she draw a small sword and tried to stab Tajomaru but he managed to strike down her small sword out of her hand and he continued his intention without killing the woman’s husband.
Tajomaru has no intention on killing Takehiro but because of the woman shame she said that she would become the wife of whoever survived. Tajomaru didn’t like to kill Takehiro throught unfair manner, so he untied him and told Takehiro to cross swords with him, the fight ended Tajomaru standing. As he turned towards to the girl she was already gone. So he robbed sword, bow, arrows, and ran out to the mountain road.
Tajomaru - The main suspect of the murder. He supposedly 'admitted' that he killed Takehiko in order to keep his wife for himself. Although, Tajomaru hadn't really planned on killing Takehiko, until Masago had asked for atleast one of the men to die. He claimed that they dueled to-the-death, but when he had emerged victorious, Masago was nowhere to be found. He suspected that she ran away while the two men were busy fighting for their lives.
- The wife of the victim(Takehiko). She claimed that Tajomaru had been long gone when she supposedly picked herself up and stabbed her husband with her own sword. She was supposed to follow him afterward, but claimed that she must have fainted after the event had taken place.
Kanazawa no Takehiko
- The man that was murdered by Tajomaru. His story was told through medium. The reason of his death is that he believed and followed Tajomaru with her wife that there is a treasure in a mountain somewhere in a grove and he was stabbed at that back that caused him to become weak before they crossed swords with thief afterwards.
- A person who found the body in a grove. Described the Victim's body that was lying flat on its back, dressed in a bluish silk Kimono and a wrinkled head-dress of the kyoto style.
- He saw the victim(Kanazawa no Takehiko) from the road of Sekiyama to Yamashina which is accompanied by a woman (His wife, Masago)
High Police Commissioner --- He was the one in charge to investigate the incident and pinpoint the culprit through interviewing witnesses.
- The man who arrested the Primary suspect which is Tajomaru(A Thief). He claimed that the suspect was holding a bow and a quiver of odd arrows when he was found. The Policeman also added that he spotted a horse grazing by the roadside. In addition, he didn't fail to mention Tajomaru's passed crimes.
- The mother of Takehiko's wife(Masago). She stated that her son-in-law was a samurai in the town of Kukufu in the Province of Wasaka. Her son-in-law is 26 years old and her daughter was 19 years of age.
The story was set in Tokyo, 150 meters off the Yamashina stage. About noon.
A little past noon Tajomaru met a couple. A puff of wind blew, and raised her hanging scarf, so he caught a glimpse on the face of the woman who looked like a Bodhisattava. At that moment Tajomaru made up his mind to capture the woman even if he had to kill her man.
Tajomaru managed to lure the couple into the mountains. He told them that there was an old mound in the mountain that he had dug and found many mirrors and swords. And he’d like to sell them at a low price to anyone who would care to have them.
Base on the story In a Grove there are two conflicts.
Man vs. Himself
Base on Tajomaru’s confession Tajomaru became thier travelling companion and told them there was a treasure in the mountain and ask them to come and see it. And Takehiko had no objection.
Man vs. Man
In the story Takehiko had a skirmish with Tajomaru. Tojomaru is convinced by defeating Takehiko he could capture the women (Masago).
In the story Tajomaru uses the word Bodhisattva in describing the women (Masago). It symbolize perfection and peaceful.
In the women’s confession one of the line is “I don’t know how to express my heart at that time”. She uses the symbol heart that symbolizes feelings and love.
Also on the women’s confession she uses the word Kwannon that symbolize luck and mercy.
Dark- In Takehiko’s statement he used the word dark in describing its anger and depression because of jealousy.
Point of view: First person
At the end of the story, the author did not tell who is the killer. There are different confessions and testimonies. We are the one who will identify the killer. For us, the killer would be the wife because......
The story talks about the dark side of the human being.
"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
There is only one truth."
The possible theme of the short story In a Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa is the “sense of justice and morality”, the author tries the readers to put themselves into an test as whose confession the readers will believe and why. And like in the characters in the book that the reader will probably tries to find to justify his/her chosen testimony that contradicts by another person’s testimony and leaves the reader to wonder what really happened after all. That the author wants readers to expand their thoughts and ideas to prove the confession they chose to believe.
This morning a woodcutter saw a body in a grove lying flat on its back wearing a bluish silk kimono and wrinkled head-dress of the Kyoto style and his name is Kanazawa no Takehiko. A single sword stroke had pierced the breast. After that incident the high police commissioner started to gather some information to investigate and to find the killer of Kanazawa.
The day before the incident happened. There is a Buddhist priest saw an unfortunate man was on the road from sekiyama to yamashina. He was walking toward to sekiyama with his wife riding on a horse. The horse was a sorrel with fine mane. The wife is wearing a scarf hanging from her head to hide her face from everyone. She also wears a blue lilac-colored suit. The man was armed with sword as well as a bow and arrows. And he also carried twenty odd arrows in his quiver.
The high police commissioner got also a testimony from a policeman. The policeman is trying to capture the notorious thief namely Tajomaru. It was early hour of last night when the police officer arrested him but he had fallen off his horse. He was on the bridge at awataguchi that time. The next day the policeman saw tajomaru but unfortunately he escaped. He was wearing a dark blue silk kimono and a large plain sword. And he also got a bow and arrows somewhere similar to tajomaru. The bow with a leather strips, the black lacquered quiver, the seventeen arrows with hawk feathers. So the high policeman concluded that he is the killer of kanazawa. And the policeman saw tajomaru riding on a sorrel horse with a fine mane.
The old woman was questioned by the high police commissioner if the corpse is the husband of her daughter. And the old woman said yes. The old woman daughter is the wife of kanazawa. She is masago, she is a nineteen year old lady who is spirited and a fun loving girl. While Kazawa is a samurai from kokufu, and his age is twenty-six. The old lady said that yesterday or the day before the incident kanazawa and masago leave from wasaka.
Finally Tajomaru confessed. When the time he is trying to escape from the policeman he saw Kanazawa and Masago. When he saw Masago he was attracted to her so he deceived the couple and to capture Masago even If he kills Kanazawa. But he still wants to capture Masago without killing kanazawa. So Tajomaru made a plan to convince the couple about the hidden swords and mirrors dug in a groove and he will sell it in a low price. Kanazawa accepted the offer without hesitation. When they reach the destination they need to walk because riding a horse is not appropriate in that place. So Masago decided to stay with the horse. So the two men are the one who went in a grove. Tajomaru attacked Kanazawa from behind but Kanazawa fight back, because Kanazawa is a sword bearing warrior it was hard for Tajomaru to defeat Kanazawa but unfortunately Kanazawa lose. Tajomaru tied Kanazawa and put some bamboo leaves on his mouth so that he cannot shout and call for help. Tajomaru asked Masago to come with him to tell Kanazawa is not feeling well, when the time that Masago saw Kanazawa tied up, he started to attacked Tajomaru using her small sword. But unluckily Tajomaru strike
down her sword and he raped Masago. After that scenario Masago wanted to duel the two men and whoever survived she will go and leave with him. The girl wanted to leave peacefully without any shame that she is connected with two men. The two men fight against each other and Tajomaru won and Kanazawa fell. But after the fight Tajomaru cannot see masago anywhere. She may have run away through the grove to call for help. And Tajomaru decided to stole the sword, bow and arrows. He ran out to the mountain road and he saw the horse owned by the couple and ran away.
But the statement of Masago is contrary to the statement of Tajomaru. After Tajomaru raped masago, Masago went to kanazawa who is weak. Masago cannot leave with him because of the shame that he has. Masago decided to kill kanazawa and herself to end the shameful experience that they have encountered. Masago said that she stabbed Kanazawa using his small sword to stop the emotional and physical pain that he experience. Masago also tried to kill herself by stabbing her throat and threw herself on the pond at the foot of the mountain but still she survives.
Through the medium, they get additional information from Kanazawa. Kanazawa saw that Tajomaru is convincing masago to stay with him. Masago was convinced because Tajomaru raped her and it’s not appropriate for a woman to have sexual intercourse to the other man when you are married. Before they leave, Masago decided and told to Tajomaru to kill Kanazawa because he cannot marry Tajomaru as long as Kanazawa is still alive. But because Masago doesn’t want see Kanazawa dying she ran away and leave Tajomaru. When Tajomaru saw that Masago leave he stole the sword, bow and arrowsowned by Kanazawa. Because of the pain that Kanazawa experience he decided to kill himself using the small sword that he saw in front of him owned by his wife. He stabbed his breast to kill himself. Before he closes his eyes he saw a hand that drew the small sword softly out of his breast.
The high police commissioner is now confused because there are three people claiming that kill Kanazawa. So the police commissioner doesn’t have any idea of what is the real story all about.
The story has a cliffhanger ending. They give the readers an own perception of who killed Kanazawa. The author let the reader analyze and interpret the scenario to make the reader think the possible killer of the story.