A Tree-Lined Avenue, Dropped From Some Foreign Country

Yasunari Kawabata (Photo: Yousuf Karsh)

As the train approached Tokyo Central Station, he looked down upon a tree-lined avenue. 

It ran east and west, almost at right angles to the railroad. The western sun poured into it, and the street glittered like a sheet of metal. The trees, with the sun behind them, were darkened almost to black. The shadows were cool, the branches wide, the leaves thick. Solid Occidental buildings lined the street. 

There were strangely few people. The street was quiet and empty all the way to the Palace moat. The dazzlingly bright streetcars too were quiet. 

Looking down from the crowded train, he felt that the avenue alone floated in this strange time of evening, that it had been dropped here from some foreign country. 

He had the illusion that the Inamura girl was walking in the shade of the trees, the pink kerchief and its thousand white cranes under her arm. He could see the cranes and the kerchief vividly. 

He sensed something fresh and clean. 

His chest rose—the girl might even now be arriving at his door. 

Thousand Cranes
(1952)

~ Yasunari Kawabata (1899 – 1972)
Japanese Novelist and the 1968 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature

Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker
. . .

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~

省線の有楽町を過ぎて東京駅へ行くあいだに、高い並木のある大通りを、菊治は電車の窓から見おろした。

その通りは省線とほぼ直角に、東西に通っていて、ちょうど西日を照り返していた。金属の板のようにまぶしく光っていた。しかし並木はその西日を受けた裏から見るわけで、緑の色が黒っぽく沈み、木陰は涼しげであった。枝が広がり、広い葉がしげっていた。通りの両側はしっかりした洋館であった。

その大通りに不思議と人通りがない。皇居の濠端に突きあたるところまで、しんと見通しである。まぶしく光る車道も静かである。

ひどくこむ電車のなかから見おろすと、その通りだけ夕方の奇妙な時間に浮かんでいるような、なにか外国じみた感じがあった。

千羽鶴
川端康成 著

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