The Kobe Hotel

The Kobe Hotel

The Kobe Hotel

The Kobe Hotel

Synopsis

A collection of short stories and poems based on the author's experiences in Japan during World War II. The stories are set in, and describe, the war, the immediate postwar days, a visit to Hiroshima devastated by the atomic bomb and to a brothel built for occupation soldiers.

Excerpt

Saito Sanki was born Saito Keichoku on May 15, 1900, in the old castle town of Tsuyama. His father was a school superintendent and an amateur calligrapher, painter, sculptor, and poet. His mother was the daughter of a high-ranking samurai retainer. Their only daughter had died the same year Sanki was born, and consequently he was raised with much affection as the reincarnation of his sister. After his father died when Sanki was six, he and his mother were supported by the eldest son, Takeo, who was twenty years older than Sanki and lived in Tokyo.

In October of 1918, when Sanki was eighteen, his mother died and Takeo became his caretaker. Sanki moved to Tokyo, where he was enrolled at Aoyama Gakuin, a Methodist school. He dropped out, citing a desire to study painting, but out of obligation to his elder brother he eventually opted for a more practical career. During his years at Nippon Dental College, Sanki sought diversion by joining a riding club, and was so taken with social dancing that he eventually acquired a dancing teacher's license.

In 1925 Sanki finished college and, although he had already had a few lovers, he married Uehara Shigeko, whom he had known since his Tsuyama days. The newlyweds were invited to move to Singapore by Takeo who, since late 1923, had been a manager at the Singapore branch of the NYK Line, Japan's largest shipping company. Takeo intended to save Sanki from his licentious life by offering him a fresh start in a country far from his lovers. Sanki opened a dental clinic on Orchard Avenue, the main street, in a building that Takeo had bought for the couple as a gift, and which also served as their residence.

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