The Reading Life Japanese Literature Project-link to 90 reviews
" In a Grove" by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892 to 1927-Tokyo) is the most famous Short Story by a Japanese author. I have previously posted on another of his stories, "The Mandrians". In that post I give some information on the general sensibility of Akutagawa. Five movies have been made using this story as a base.
"In a Grove" tells us the story of the bird of a samurai, from seven different view points, including that of the victim. We hear from an old wood cutter who found the body and a Buddhist Priest who passed the victim on the road. From the wood cutter we get a look back at very old traditions, from the Priest we learn a bit about the iconography of Japanese Buddhism. We then meet an ex-criminal now working as a bounty hunter for the police who claims to have captured the killer (though his evidence is week). Next we hear from the mother- in- law of the victim, her daughter is missing and she begs the police to find her. Soon we hear from the wife. Now as the wife speaks we begin to think we know what happened to the samurai. Of course we do not!
I will not tell any more of the plot of the story. It is very modern in its use of multiple view points and very traditional in the value system that motivates the central characters. It takes a deep look at the role of honor and face in the samurai code, especially as it affects the wives of samurai.
I endorse this story totally. You can read it HERE.