#44 The Old Capital – Yasunari Kawabata


The Old Capital


Yasunari Kawabata









Title (Original)

古都 – Koto

Year of Publication




Short Description & Notes

Chieko is the foster daughter of a kimono merchant- Her life is the main subject of this book that unfolds in a post war Kyoto, during its westernization. All her life, Chieko has been led to believe she had been abandoned by a Geisha, until the moment she meets her twin sister. The lives of these girls are described while we get to know more about Kyoto’s way of life and Japanese culture. Sometimes, the way Kawabata writes becomes pure poetry.

“The Old Capital is one of the three novels cited specifically by the Nobel Committee when they awarded Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. With the ethereal tone and aesthetic styling characteristic of Kawabata’s prose, The Old Capital tells the story of Chieko, the adopted daughter of a Kyoto kimono designer, Takichiro, and his wife, Shige.

Set in the traditional city of Kyoto, Japan, this deeply poetic story revolves around Chieko who becomes bewildered and troubled as she discovers the true facets of her past. With the harmony and time-honored customs of a Japanese backdrop, the story becomes poignant as Chieko’s longing and confusion develops.” – Goodreads: The Old Capital

Remarkable Quotes

“Contemplou longamente as cerejeiras e agradeceu-lhes por ter descoberto através delas, mais uma vez, a Primavera de Kyoto.”

“Quando se contempla, do pavilhão ocidental, as cerejeiras escarlates, de rams pendentes, sente-se de súbito a Primavera no coração.”

“Há momentos em que se é feliz por não se pensar.”

Fun Facts

Kawabata was awarded the Literature Nobel Prize in 1968.

This book was adapted to the cinema twice, in 1963 and 1980.

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