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March 15, 2005


Bruce Rutledge

Thanks for the kind words on Kuhaku. It's comments like this that keep us going.

I think you'll be surprised by our next project, which should be out this spring. All I'll say is it is *not* a book and not (specifically) about Japan.

Hope to see you around in Seattle or Tokyo. Bruce

Ozzy Osmond

And like McSweeney's, Kuhaku is printed in Iceland.

Sumie Kawakami

Just a quick note to thank you for your comment on “That Floating Feeling”in Kuhaku. It took me a year to do those interviews. The more women I met the more depressed I got during the time, because their affairs did not make them happy, or did not fix their problems.

The problem may not be Japan-specific, but I was glad that our editor Bruce Rutledge included my essays in his project.


Hi Sumie-thanks for commenting. I found your essays very moving, sad, and insightful.

I think you are right in saying that unhappy marriages and affairs are not Japan-specific, but it's just that I find it more common here for cultural reason perhaps. I hate to generalize, but I think many people in Japan see marriage as a means for stability-so when choose men who are good providers and men look for women who would make good homemakers. Add the fact that men are often away from home all day and return late at night and have little participation in the rearing of children let alone household chores doesn't help in my opinon.

Thus, I was a bit shocked about how open some of my collegues were about their affairs when I first arived in Japan. However, I respected the fact that many couples often stayed together at least until the children were out of the home-I think divorce can be really hard on kids since I've had many friends who were from divorced families. I don't know if there are more affairs going on here than in the US, but there are certainly fewer divorces.

Arie van der Hoeven

I taught English in Japan in the early to mid 90's and like Pat I was also shocked at how some affairs were open secrets. I had a student who was a local head (buchou) for a major construction firm in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. He had a wife and 14 year old daughter in Sapporo and an 18 year old mistress in town - just 2 hours away by train. My former girlfriend's father was also absolutely open about his philandering, some of which I took for bluster. He was sometimes demeaning in words to his wife, yet somehow likeable and kind and in most ways a good family man who spent much time at home.

I don't necessarily believe that there is a higher rate of infidelity in Japan than here in America, but it is more out in the open and it would appear that some women tolerate these behaviors or arrangements.

My wife is Japanese and she would divorce me in a heartbeat if I had an affair - unless she killed me first. I attribute part of that from coming from a shokunin family. He parent's run a family restaurant and come from working class backgrounds. It's the "salary man" types where I see this the most.

I haven't read Sumie's stories yet, but I look forward to comparing it to my experiences.

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