| Kiri no Mukô no Fishigina Machi is the first book by Kashiwaba Sachiko (1953 -). An orthodox fantasy in which a girl goes from the everyday world into another world, spends some time there, and comes back. It was a new kind of Japanese fantasy with humorous episodes and the mixture of western and rustic atmosphere.|
Uesugi Rina, a sixth grader girl, is recommended to go to the Valley of Fog (Kiri no Tani) by her father during summer vacation. She left for the Valley of Fog by herself. On the way, she loses her way, but following an umbrella blown by the wind, she comes to a small town, where six western style houses stands along a street named Crazy People's Street (Kichigai Dori). Old Pikotto, the owner of a boarding house, and other people living there are all the descendants of witches.
Old Pikotto lets Rina stay in her house and makes her work at several shops on the street, for Pikotto believes in "no work, no dinner." At first, Rina is surprised, but she comes to blend in with the everyday life of the strange people there. Sometimes she helps them solve their problems. After three weeks, Old Pikotto tells Rina to go home. With a heavy heart Rina leaves the Valley of Fog. When she returns, she knows that only half a day has passed in her ordinary world. She also finds several presents from the Valley of Fog people and the umbrella in her bag which means that the next year she will be able to visit the Valley of Fog again.
Some elements of this story - two worlds with their own flow of time, an umbrella as a device to connect the two worlds, and so on - are rather stereotypical. Rina shows no clear growth in the story, and the story has no clear climax, as it is a sequence of several happenings. Some readers, therefore, may find this story rather boring.
Others, however, find original charm in the details of this story: unique characters as Icchan the inventor or Bakame the parrot; a summer garden full of spring and winter flowers; sweets that never make people fat, and so on. Such elements must be attractive for many readers.
Kiri no Mukô no Fishigina Machi received the Kôdansha Award of Children's Literature for Newcomer in 1974. In 1976, it received the Japan Association of Writers for Children Newcomer Prize. In 1979, it was published as one of Kôdansha Pocket Book series. In 1987, an English translation by Christopher Holmes was published as one of the Kôdansha Pocket Books in English. This story gives a hint to an animation movie, Sen to Chihiro no Kami Kakushi [Spirited Away](2001) by Miyazaki Hayao.