9 August, Chisato Abe

文字数 5,537文字

Grandmother’s Kimono Rack

What’s this, Mom?
  I turned around and opened my eyes wide when I saw what my daughter had dug up.
  Oh, my, that brings back memories! It’s a rack for hanging kimonos.
  The wood structure that looked like a Torii gate had a lacquer finish and tassels at the end of fan-shaped clips.
  Haven’t you ever seen them at a kimono shop?
  My daughter looked lost. Then it hit me. Young people today did not often see kimono shops in town.
  Wait a minute.
  Figuring it was easier to show her than try to explain, I reached for my mother’s old chest.

  My mother passed away last month.
  My father died when I was young, and my mother had worked hard and raised me single-handedly.
  She supported us with her kimono-sewing skills and seems to have had a particular knack for matching and arranging the patterns on kimonos. I would ask her for tips, and she would tell me that, when the designs worked out nicely, it filled the kimonos with joy.
  She often hung kimonos on this rack and examined the results of her handiwork.
  The memories remained fresh in my mind: Pretty kimonos surrounded by her work table, her pincushion, and the mirror stand as they were lit gently by the sunlight that seeped in through the window.

  This old apartment building will soon be torn down. I came back here today to clean my mother’s room, and my daughter, who will soon be going to junior high school, tagged along, saying she wanted to help.
  I had already taken home the kimonos in decent condition, and the kimonos that remain here are those with stains on them—or so I thought, until I noticed the sheer kimono wrapping paper at the bottom of the drawer.
  I pulled it out and got a whiff of the strong scent of camphor. I undid the wrapping, and there in front of me was an unexpected cascade of bright colors.
  Against the backdrop of a light pink base color with an elegant sheen of silk were butterflies big and small, flying about in various directions.
  Wow! It’s beautiful! My daughter exclaimed as she looked over my shoulder.
  This is the kimono she made for the festival celebrating three-, five-, and seven-year-olds.
  For you?
  My mother had carefully chosen the material and made the kimono by hand. It was a piece that I had cherished.
  I hadn’t thought of it for a long time.
  So Grandma hung onto it all these years.
  My daughter’s words tugged at my heartstrings. I tried to distract her by hanging the kimono on the rack. I was telling her that this was how you used the rack when suddenly—

  Suddenly, a gust of wind swept over us.

  It was not a wind that was coming through the window. It was distinct. It was warm yet refreshing. A spring wind with the sweet scent of flowers—that was blowing out of the kimono.
  The next moment, butterflies suddenly started flying around, their wings flapping lightly like the tinkling of a bell, as if they were riding the wind. They grazed my cheeks. Their light colors appeared to melt as one, reminding me of a rainbow after the rain in the late spring sky as the powder on the wings scattered about like tiny fragments of light.
  The afternoon sun shone into the room that had turned a bright pink by then, filled by the swirling motion of butterflies in seven colors.


  I thought I heard my mother’s voice.








  I came back to my senses and saw the child’s kimono hanging on the rack. Its sleeves lay spread out as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
  My daughter and I stared dumbly at each other; our hair tousled in a mess. She spoke up a few moments later.
  . . . Mom, can I have the kimono and that rack?
  Well, sure. What are you going to do, turn the kimono into an eco-bag or something?
  We shouldn’t let that kimono go to waste, she shouted.
  I am clumsy with my hands, but my daughter isn’t. The work she made in home economics class the other day was something else.
  I’m not sure what I’ll be able to do with that kimono, but remaking it would be an interesting project.
  Mumbling to herself that she might join the arts and crafts club when she started junior high school, she was more like my mother than I had ever been.

Translated by Eriko Sugita/Arranged by TranNet KK

Chisato Abe
Born in Gunma Prefecture, 1991. While enrolled at Waseda University’s School of Culture, Media, and Society, she made her literary debut in 2012 with






(Crows are not suited to a simple kimono), published by Bungeishunju. She won the Matsumoto Seichō Award for the book, becoming the youngest author to win the award, at 20. Graduated from Waseda University’s Graduate School of Letters, Arts, and Sciences in 2017. Her Yatagarasu (Three-legged crow) series, beginning with her debut work, has become a hugely popular bestseller with 1,300,000 copies sold. Her works include






(Hundred flowers of the crow: Chapter of the firefly), a side-story to the Yatagarasu series, and


(Manifestation), published by NHK Publishing. Her most recent work




(The crow of paradise), the first volume of the second part of the Yatagarasu series, is slated for publication in September 2020.

The official website for the Yatagarasu series (Bungeishunju): https://books.bunshun.jp/sp/karasu




  • 特大
  • 生成り
  • 水色
  • 明朝
  • ゴシック
  • 横組み
  • 縦組み