In “Strange Weather in Tokyo” (Sensei no kaban), Hiromi Kawakami creates an organic novel with a natural flow of the story and exquisite cohesion.
The reader can connect with the characters on every page of the book, or even feel empathy for them. The feelings and emotions Tsukiko, the female protagonist and narrator, experiences and expresses are genuinely human.
The story is beautiful because it is delicate and relatable. Simple lines are used to conveniently evoke the atmosphere, that penetrates the scenes. Loneliness, failures, contradictions, and fears are all naturally developed in the novel. However, it also shows the reader how friendships are forged and romance can be encountered. What makes the novel appealing is the fact that the characters timidly share their lives through mutual respect and care, as well as reciprocal observation.
When Tsukiko and the Sensei first meet, neither of them has a specific goal in mind. Nobody is searching for anything, but they find more than they have ever looked for in this spontaneous relationship founded on casual connections.
Some of the most beautiful things are slowly and carefully built through time without an intention. The relationship portrayed in the book is the wonderful outcome of two people getting to know one another over time and realizing that the journey of doing so is a lovely and delightful adventure.
“Strange Weather in Tokyo” is my first Japanese novel, and it is well worth the read. I strongly recommend it to any kind of reader. It is a book that can teach you about yourself.
PS, Sensei no kaban has also been translated into English under the name “The Briefcase”.