On Our Bookshelves: The Dancer of Izu

SHORT STORY: The Dancer of Izu

AUTHOR: Kawabata Yasunari


Mount Amagi lies in the heart of the Izu peninsula near Tokyo, Japan. While the mountain may be not as popular or majestic as Mount Fuji, it marks the beginning of a pilgrims’ trail treaded by generations of Japanese readers who have been touched by 1926’s “The Dancer of Izu,” a short love story by Nobel Literature Prize winner Kawabata Yasunari.

If you haven’t read “The Dancer of Izu” or walked the path with an adoring fan, the excursion from Mount Amagi through Kawazu to the south Izu town of Shimoda can take a couple of days on foot. The setting is idyllic, a complementary backdrop for a journey between Yasunari’s narrator, a 20-year-old male college student, and a young dancing girl from a family of travelling performers.

From the beginning of the story – when Yasunari’s narrator first spots the girl — to its powerful resolution, this is an ageless tale of young love, social status, and stirring surprise.

RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Five Whistles.


* “The Dancer of Izu” has been put to the silver screen in Japan six times. The 1974 version is starred by Momoe Yamaguchi and Tomokazu Miura, and directed by Katsumi Nishikawa.

* Even if you are not interested in puppy love tales, this extraordinary story still offers many useful tips for sighting rare natural beauty in Japan.

* An English translation of The Dancer of Izu, also known as The Izu Dancer, is available online for purchase.


Burmese Days, George Orwell


Art Courtesy of Durd Yu/Shutterstock.com