Hiromi Ito » とげ抜き 新巣鴨地蔵縁起 (The Thorn Puller)

The latest addition to my website is Hiromi Ito‘s とげ抜き 新巣鴨地蔵縁起 (The Thorn Puller). She calls it a long poem but we might describe it as an autobiographical novel. On the one hand, she describes the difficult role that society that society imposes on women as a daughter and only child of ageing and ill parents in Japan, wife of an ageing and difficult Jewish-English atheist artist in California and mother of three daughters, mainly in the US. She juggles these roles, travelling to Japan to help her parents, continually fighting her husband and looking after her daughters. At the same time she is a Buddhist (to her husband’s disgust) and attached to the bodhisattva Jizo who pulls thorns, i.e. solves people’s problems. She is also a feminist poet , showing the issues women face in today’s world, particularly as regards their bodies. She is also very much in touch with Japanese culture and we learn from her about Japanese legend, history and culture. She is also a philosopher, thinking of life and death and our role (and, in particular, women;’s role). Finally she struggles with cross-cultural differences between Japan, the US and her Jewish-English husband. All these aspects merge into a first-class work, which show the complexity in her rich and complicated life.

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