The Mountain Witch at the Train Station: the Yamamba and the Shojo in Aoyama Nanae's Hitori Biyori
King, EL, The Mountain Witch at the Train Station: the Yamamba and the Shojo in Aoyama Nanae's Hitori Biyori, Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies, 6, (1) pp. 82-98. ISSN 1176-2152 (2008) [Refereed Article]
In a March 2007 interview with the Japan Times, following the receipt of the 136th Akutagawa prize for the novel Hitori Biyori (translated both as A Good Day for Being Alone and Being Alone), 24 year old author, Aoyama Nanae, stated that ‘[she] often find[s] interest in older women.’ Aoyama goes on to say that she is ‘interested in the relationship between young people and older people.’ She notes that in her first novel, Mado no Akari (Window Lights), she writes about a young woman’s adoration, envy and strong curiosity towards a middle aged woman because she herself has ‘those kinds of complex feelings.’ In Hitori Biyori this interest is further explored through the relationship between the young woman protagonist and an older man with whom she boards. In Mado no Akari, however, the older woman is much more advanced in years and the age difference between the two characters is much greater than in the former. Although the protagonist of Hitori Biyori has feelings that stop short of adoration, Aoyama states that ‘there is a gap of several decades between her [the protagonist] and the old lady, but the main character does not care much about that. That is to say, according to Aoyama, the protagonist has no qualms regarding her landlady’s age, in spite of the fact that during the pair’s first meeting she appears slightly repulsed by her companion’s emaciated appearance.