Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Because Otama’s traditional Japanese house lacks a bathroom of its own–as was quite common even for expensive houses of its time–Otama is free to travel to a public bathhouse. It is while returning home from the bathhouse one day that she encounters the medical student Okada, with whom she begins a flirtation. However, circumstances prevent them from developing a more serious romantic relationship.
*Shinobazu Pond (shee-noh-bah-zew). Pool of water in the middle of Tokyo’s university district designed to give aesthetic pleasure to the neighborhood. A small shrine on an artificial wooden island at the center of the pond is visited by wild geese; however, students treat the place disrespectfully, and one day Okada accidentally kills a goose with a stone that he throws on a dare from a fellow student. Later they retrieve and cook the goose and get drunk, and Okada misses his opportunity to visit Otama’s house while Suezo is away from the city.
Suezo’s home (sew-eh-zoh). House that Suezo buys for his family on fashionable Ike-no-hata street after he becomes rich. Acquiring a stylish home is not enough for him, however; he also wants a mistress. After renting a house on his own street for Otama’s impoverished father, he finds another house for Otama a somewhat greater distance away. When Suezo’s wife learns of his affair, she takes revenge by neglecting their home. Its unkempt and run-down appearance consequently literally symbolizes the lack of domestic peace and happiness within the home, from which Suezo flees with increased frequency.
*Matsugen Restaurant (mah-tsew-jen). Noted real establishment on Ueno Square near Tokyo University. It still existed at the time of the novel’s publication, and had not suffered from the fires that have historically plagued Tokyo, regularly destroying the fragile wooden houses designed to withstand frequent earthquakes. Suezo meets Otama and her father at this restaurant, where he formally proposes taking her as his mistress. The novel nostalgically reflects on the changes that had wrought havoc with the restaurant’s surroundings since the period in which the story is set. For example, Shinobazu Pond was once splendidly visible from the restaurant, but later horse-racing and bicycle tracks were built around it, reflecting the fast pace of Japan’s modernization and embracing of Western culture.
*Kamijo (kah-mee-joh). Boardinghouse in which Okada and the novel’s narrator live as students. The social order of the place, which is run by a strict landlady, appears to be as old-fashioned as the building itself. The real Kamijo burned down, a historical event used in the novel to heighten the sense of a place lost forever.