bookmark "Kuroi Ame (Black Rain)"
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
Kuroi Ame (Black Rain) is a novel by Japanese author Masuji Ibuse. He began serializing Black Rain in the magazine Shincho in January 1965. The novel is based on historical records of the devastation caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Director Shohei Imamura directed a film adaptation of the novel in 1989. The movie won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Festival in 1990 and the Japanese Academy Awards 1990 as Best Art Direction and Best Sound.
The book alternates between Shizuma Shigematsu's journal entries and other characters from August 6–15, 1945, Hiroshima, and the present. The present time in the novel takes place several years later when Shigematsu and his wife Shigeko become guardians of their niece Yasuko and thus obligated to find a suitable husband for her. At the start of the novel, three earlier attempts to arrange a match have already failed due to health concerns over her having been exposed to the "Black Rain".
Ibuse wrote the novel after interviewing several survivors of this terrible moment in history. It's strong and emotional and gives a deep perspective of the unique Japanese culture.
The first time I heard about the book was when I listened to the Mono piece born from a collaboration with Giovanna Cacciola from Uzeda/Bellini. In the song she recites a poem:
Many little people
gather together among the branches of trees,
or in the bushes at the park,
under the tables of luxurious restaurants,
between the folds of silk sheets,
in so-many-star hotels.
They are patient and they come from far away
The day holds them, prisoner, at the four corners of the world
without hope and without support.
Invisible the multitude in the continuity
to which they do not belong.
And they dance and love one another with a love of that which is not seen and not loved.
I have seen them, actually,
and they surprised me.
They took me by the hand
and embraced me,
they smiled at me
weightless in their immeasurable solitude.
They singing delicate melodies to me continually.
Then they became rain
and quenched boundless, arid lands
they irrigated fields that had been dry for thousands of years
and had always been barren.
Then, before my eyes,
all their embraces were consumed
in a perfumed cloud of vapour.
I saw them fly quickly away, that way.
I saw them go away
without a word,
without a gesture.
And I loved them
The playlist includes the Movie soundtrack, other post-rock and indie bands from the Japanese scene.
01. Toru Takemitsu - Kuroi Ame
02. Mono feat. Giovanna Cacciola - Black Rain
03. Hyakkei - Memories of The Sky
04. You You You All The Same - Magic Hour
05. Toe - Goodbye
06. Stereo Type - うつろう
07. The Perfect Sport - Parallel Bars