Sunday, 26 April 2015

Matatabi Travel

Matatabi Travel (またたびトラベル, 2004) is a children's book by MOICHI Kumiko (茂市久美子, born 1951), made up of a series of linked stories. The "Matatabi Travel" of the title is a small travel agency in the second floor of a dilapidated residential house, "Matatabi House", approached by a rickety staircase on the outside of the building. This is one of those mysterious shops that seems to be have appeared out of nowhere. Matatabi is the Japanese name for silver vine, a plant which seems to be the Japanese equivalent of catnip. The almond eyed young man who runs the travel agency is in fact a cat; and his customers are or become people who look after stray cats.

The stories are essentially modern fairy tales, but with a linked setting and theme. As you might expect in such stories, most customers come upon the building by chance. Often they are not even looking to book a trip when they go in.
By the way, Saburou had not come to Matatabi Travel on purpose.

He had been working late into the night, and on his way back home, for some reason, he had wandered into a narrow alley he never went down. On top of that it was raining horribly. The place he happened to seek shelter under was the eaves of Matatabi Travel's building.

There was a light on in Matatabi Travel and an 'Open' sign hanging in the door.

'Hey, they're working pretty late. It doesn't look like the rain is going to let up. I'll pass the time a bit in there.'
 Some of the stories seem a little flat to me. The 'fairy tale style' tends towards a certain restraint, a deliberate simplicity, which can lead towards a feeling of lack of substance when the subject matter does not compensate. The stories are more comfortable than thought provoking or impressive. Perhaps the most distinctive thing the book does is reflect its young readers' nervous anticipation of the adult world waiting for them. The customers are all young adults. Their problems are the kind of problems that face young working people, finding work, affording a home, loneliness, the feeling that they have made a wrong choice.

No comments:

Post a Comment