| Yuki no Shita no Uta is the first collection of short stories by Sugi Mikiko (1930 -), containing six stories. "Kakumaki no Uta" [A song of Kakumaki] and others first appeared in Nihon Jidô Bungaku [Japanese Children's Literature] or Biwa no Mi Gakkô [Biwanomi School]. |
"Kakumaki no Uta" is said to have brought Sugi into prominence. (Kakumaki is a blanket with a fur collar to wear on cold days. People in northern area of Japan, known for heavy snow, wear it in winter.) Chiyako's mother has a red kakumaki inherited from her mother. She rarely wore it until the post war era when she was short in clothes. She goes to sell things with the red kakumaki on. In the mean time Chiyako grows up and becomes old enough to wear the kakumaki. On a snowy evening, she brings supper to her brother with the kakumaki on. On the way back home, she meets an old woman wearing a similar red kakumaki, who tells Chiyako a story about it, and a song about it. Chiyako feels as if the kakumaki itself were singing. She thinks of the lives of women who used to have her kakumaki. When she is back home, her sister and her brother are singing a song. She thinks that it might be a new song of kakumaki, and hopes to sing to it when she can see the old woman again.
All stories in this book are set in a small village or town. Nature (snow, flowers, mountains, etc.), things in everyday life (kakumaki, a utility pole, etc.), and the people living there are described in a calm tone. The flow of time is also described in Sugi's stories quite often, which gives a short story some depth and stability.
Sugi kept writing about the life in the northern countryside, probably from her own experience of growing up and living in Niigata Prefecture where they have much snow. She was praised highly by Seki Hideo as a successor of Ogawa Mimei, a representative Japanese author for children in the pre-war period, who was also from Niigata.
Yuki no Shita no Uta was published in a new edition in 1979 with a new cover, illustrations, and postscript.