Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Fumiyo Kouno

Beautiful.

It’s the only word I could come up with after and even while reading “Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms” by Fumiyo Kono. To go further would be like describing and explaining a beautiful flower or a poem but never sufficiently and with all futility.

I came across “Town of Evening Calm” upon reading a listing of manga classics and was captivated by its cover alone. Yeah, yeah, I know what they say about that but the stories (two stories in one compilation) were as beautiful as the cover.

“Town of Evening Calm” is about the life of Minami Hirano, a young woman who survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, ten years later as she goes about her daily life of making ends meet, taking care of her mother and not knowing how to handle a potential love blooming.

“Country of Cherry Blossoms” is the story of her niece, some decades later, as she discovers her heritage.

What I love most about the treatment of the stories is its avoidance of being political and sentimental. They were presented as a slice of life—life after an atom bomb that killed almost 200,000 people including half her family.

“Town of Evening Calm” is one of those manga series I could not put down wanting to see how it ends while wishing it would go on and on like most mangas. Instead, I ended up saying goodbye to the characters with a lump in my throat.

– Elizabeth

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