Nankichi Niimi & Kenji Miyazawa are undoubtedly two of Japan's most highly regarded writers of fantasy fiction. Book 2 of Tales From Japan contains four stories by Kenji Miyazawa and one story by Nankichi Niimi. In addition to the title story Gauche the Cellist, this book also includes Kenji's much loved The Restaurant of Many Orders.
Gauche is a hopeless musician and he's always being yelled at by the conductor. It's not because he doesn't try, it's just that there is something lacking in his music. And now the orchestra is preparing for a big concert so if Gauche doesn't improve in a real hurry he's going to be in big trouble. One day a strange cat turns up holding a tomato in his mouth and then all sorts of strange things start to happen to Gauche.
A Story with a Message
The underlying theme in Gauche the Cellist is admitting our weaknesses and recognizing our strengths. It is not easy to admit when we are doing something wrong, especially when we are putting in so much effort. But if that effort is being applied in the wrong place, then it is almost impossible to achieve the goals that we have set ourselves. Admitting to ourselves that we've been doing something the wrong way is the first step to achieving our dreams. And in the same way, it is also important to recognize the things that we've been doing right, and take pride in what you have achieved up until now.
The Nighthawk Star
The nighthawk has a hard time of it. He's got a face like a mud pie, he gets teased by all the other birds and he has to put up with bullies. Hans Christian Andersen was a great inspiration to Kenji and you will recognize something of the Ugly Duckling in this story, but the setting and the finale is classical Kenji, making this story a standout favorite amongst many Japanese readers.
Wild Pear (Yamanashi)
A surreal tale about a family of crabs on the bottom of the river. The amazing descriptions of life under the water will leave you with a truly new perspective on the world. An extremely well-crafted fable, with a profound underlying message.
The Restaurant of Many Orders
This is perhaps the most famous of Kenji's short stories and one of his personal favorites, as it was the title story of his one and only self-published collection of short stories. Two hunters go on a hunting trip in the country and end up completely lost. Luckily they come across what appears to be an extremely popular restaurant…but everything is not as it seems.
Buying Mittens by Nankichi Niimi
Mama fox only wants the best for her little one, so when the cold winter arrives and her precious boy needs some mittens, then she knows what she must do. The only problem is that she is afraid and her legs won't take her any further. So her son must go on his own. The highlight of this delightful children's story is the beautiful description of the foxes' journey through the snow covered woods during the middle of the night.