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A Japanese Nightingale

Onoto Watannam

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After her performance at a beautiful tea house, Yuki, a Japanese dancer, is followed and harassed by a businessman. Claiming that they could make a lot of money together if Yuki went to America with him, the man does not intend to take no for an answer. When Jack, an awkward but friendly man, witnesses the harassment, he steps in to encourage the man to leave her alone. They then part ways, and Jack assumes they will never see each other again, but Yuki has a plan. Jack is one of the wealthiest foreigners in Japan, which Yuki learns through a mutual friend. When that mutual friend reintroduces Jack and Yuki, Yuki declares her intent to marry Jack. This was a common tradition among Western men—they would marry a Japanese woman, use her, and then leave the country without a second thought. Aware of the discrimination and racism that his fellow Americans practice, he tries to be careful not to partake in such heinous beliefs; therefore, he initially is opposed to the idea. Yuki, however, is persistent. Arguing that it would be mutually beneficial, Yuki admits that she is seeking financial stability. Upon her insistence, Jack finally gives in and agrees to marry. The two decide that it will be an open and honest relationship; Yuki is interested in Jack’s money, and he is interested in her appearance. But as they grow closer, the couple realize that their no-strings attached arrangement might not work out as planned.

Onoto Watanna’s A Japanese Nightingale explores themes of gender, race, and sexuality, as well as addressing the constructs and exploitation of Asian femininity. With descriptive prose and powerful themes, A Japanese Nightingale empowers Asian identity and influenced current cultural movements. Published in 1904, A Japanese Nightingale became Onoto Watanna’s claim to fame. The novel was a big commercial success, and even inspired a silent film adaptation. However, despite its popularity, A Japanese Nightingale is rarely found in print.

This edition of Onoto Watanna’s A Japanese Nightingale features an eye-catching cover design and is printed in a contemporary font, making it both readable and modern.

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Japan, American businessman, Japanese social life and customs, Oriental, Osaka, Japanese wedding, Mikado, early 20th century, Japanese wives, romance, Japanese dancer