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The Tokyo of Fault Lines by Emily Itami

  • Submitted: 13th July 2022

The Tokyo of Fault Lines by Emily Itami

This is a novel about lonliness and motherhood but it is also a novel of two cities. The Tokyo the main character lives in now and the New York of her past. Such a keen eye and experience of two cultures makes this book great for comparing experiences of mothers and parents as well as women in general through the eyes of our main character Mizuki…

The Tokyo of Fault Lines by Emily Itami

BookTrail the locations in Fault Lines

This is a huge, colossal city but Mizuki is lonely. Not alone as she has a husband and two children. However, she has lost herself as she dreamt of being a singer. This is how she has such a connection with New York as she went there as an exchange student before returning home. Now, Tokyo makes her feel lonely as if she is stuck there and she can’t escape.

“If I’d had a career, I could change jobs, apply for a promotion, do something. If I’d stayed in New York, I could have had it all, couldn’t I? But I am a Japanese Housewife, a proper, old-school job for life, and you only get to choose your colleague once.”

She sometimes excapes to the shopping centre when the baby is sleeping and her husband is looking after them.

BookTrail the locations in Fault Lines

Mizuki loves being a mother, that much is clear. What she hates, is the housework. Mothers in Japan are expected to do all of this housework. Certaintly, Mizuki’s husband is controlling and he insists on what she can and can not do. How does this make her feel?

“On occasion, my whole life can feel like a pile-up of unintended consequences, she says.” 

The Kill Bill Restaurant (c) Pinterest

The Kill Bill Restaurant (c) Pinterest

In a city as big and expensive as Tokyo, she does realise that she is much better off than many people. However, she finds it hard to see the person she is now compared to the person she could see herself becoming.  This is her Tokyo – the one with the Kill Bill restaurant in it which is where she meets Eloise in the novel.

Life here can be brutal it seems:

“Therapy isn’t really a thing in Tokyo; you do what you do, and if you really can’t take it anymore, you take the honorable way out and leave your shoes neatly paired at the edge of the bridge when you go.”


BookTrail the locations in Fault Lines

Does the city make her think?

“Tokyo, if it doesn’t provide an answer to my angst, at least has the effect of making me forget the question.”

The one place where she can forget anything and everything is the very address of the mysterious man she meets. Her one and only true chance to escape for a bit:

She asks herself what it is like to really live in this city and not just exist:

“I realize that to be a die-hard inhabitant of this city, you’re expected to smile demurely in the face of the almighty fault line that runs straight through it and place complete trust in whatever dinky gates we’ve come up with to protect ourselves, but there’s this unshakable image of a ten-meter tsunami wall being totaled by a wave that flashes through my mind every time I’m hurtling through an underground tunnel in a metal tin.”

BookTrail the locations in Fault Lines

This is quite the exploration of Tokyo. Comparing it to her life in New York, she is able to contrast, regret and also have hope about what she is and what she has in Tokyo now.

Fault Lines is a very interesting title as you will soon find out when you read the book.



BookTrail Boarding Pass: Fault Lines

Twitter :  @EmilyItami


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