Earlier this week, I stumbled upon a book that was published in 1974: Chieko’s Sky. The cover fascinated me so with no hesitation I picked this one.
Chieko’s Sky is a poetry anthology book written by Kōtarō Takamura, a Japanese poet and sculptor, devoted to his beloved wife, Chieko Takamura. Throughout the reading, we will get the picture of how much he loved Chieko, even after she died of pulmonary tuberculosis—leaving him with the imprint of her for the next eighteen years before they finally reunited in the afterlife. Takamura chose poems as the medium to display his mourning and his love toward her.
Chieko was formerly an oil painter. She was the eldest daughter of the Naganuma family, the wine-makers. After being married to Kōtarō at the age of 28, both of them moved to Tokyo and lived in poverty. However, Chieko didn’t complain about the easy-come-easy-go money—she just couldn’t cope with the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
Being born and raised in suburban area, Chieko wasn’t used to live in the center of business, trade, and industry of Japan. To Kōtarō, she admitted that she didn’t fond of Tokyo—she said there was no sky over Tokyo. All her life in Tokyo, she longed to see a real sky: the blue sky that appears each day over the crest of Mt. Atatara. Chieko’s prolonged unfulfilled desire to see the real sky inspired Kōtarō to write a poetry titled innocent tale, which also the reason why they named the English version of this book under the title Chieko’s Sky.
The first time they met, the unintentionally encounter, the day he decided to marry her, the day Chieko poisoned herself, the day she was seized by schizoprenia, until the day she died, were chronologically narrated through poems from Kōtarō’s point of view. Not only poems, Kōtarō also wrote one long passage about almost everything he knew about his wife—which also revealed the real events behind his poems.
To be honest, I don’t really like poetry books. If I had the option, I’d always choose the story-telling book (I don’t know the exact term to describe this kind of book but I hope you get what I mean) over book that only contains poems. For example, I’d rather read 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami than Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur—albeit the former has thousand of pages, because at least I know what’s exactly going on. That’s my bad that I can hardly cope with books with no exact or implicit plot. However, Chieko’s Sky is the exception. Even though it’s made of poems, all the poems there actually direct us into a sequence of story. This book provides a whole new reading experience.
It’s safe to say that I have no regret after finishing this book. Chieko’s Sky is a perfect book to read during the weekends!
P.S. this book also provide some of Chieko’s papercuts which are beautiful.
Bonus: Chieko’s Sky Moodboard by Tiara