I thought Touring the Land of the Dead would be a perfect book. I mean, look at that title and that cover! But it was boring and bizarre at its best. It consists of two novellas: Touring the Land of the Dead and Ninety-Nine Kisses.
Touring the Land of the Dead was so dull that I was almost leaving the book altogether. But I wanted to love it and kept my hopes up. In the end, I didn’t hate it, but I must say I forget it already. Although it was a novella, it felt like a 1000 pages long novel. Reading about an unfunctional family and a woman, with a disabled husband, reminiscing about her past was depressing. In the end, it didn’t make me think about much; I was just annoyed.
Ninety-Nine Kisses was bizarre. The narrator has three big sisters, and she has sexual fantasies about them. Their daily life changes when a handsome man moves to their neighbourhood. All the big sisters want to be with that man, and this changes the atmosphere at home. That was not a joy to read, but I kept reading it, hoping there would be something I could get out of it but no, nothing. So this was also annoying. I won’t recommend this to anyone, but if you like what you’ve read and if you enjoy bizarre stories, you’ll love it. Enjoy!
Touring the Land of the Dead
A mesmerizing combination of two tales about memory, loss and love, both told with stylistic inventiveness and breath-taking sensitivity.
Taichi was forced to stop working almost a decade ago and since then he and his wife Natsuko have been getting by on her part-time wages. But Natsuko is a woman accustomed to hardship. When her own family’s fortune dried up years during her childhood, she, her brother, and her mother lived a surreal hand-to-mouth existence shaped by her mother’s refusal to accept their new station in life.
One day, Natsuko sees an ad for a spa and recognizes the place as the former luxury hotel that Natsuko’s grandfather had taken her mother to when she was little. She decides to take her damaged husband to the spa, despite the cost, but their time there triggers hard but ultimately redemptive memories relating to the complicated history of her family. The overnight trip becomes a voyage into the netherworld – a journey to the doors of death and back to life.
Modelled on a classic story by Junichiro Tanizaki, Ninety-Nine Kisses is the second story in this book and it portrays in touching and lyrical fashion the lives of the four unmarried sisters in a historical, close-knit neighbourhood of contemporary Tokyo.
Maki Kashimada is a Japanese writer. She has won the Bungei Prize, the Mishima Yukio Prize, the Noma Literary New Face Prize, and the Akutagawa Prize.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: