Posted May 23, 2024 by Ingrid Lorenzi

On Love and Impermanence: A Yen On Selection

A common saying is “Grief and love go hand in hand.” People might see this as a bleak outlook on life, but c’est la vie. However, grief, and the other emotions associated with it (anger, regret, denial, yearning), are fundamental for growth—without them, we would not know how to truly cherish those fleeting moments we often take for granted. A lover’s kiss, for example. The smell of coffee in your grandparents’ living room. Maybe even the particular way your childhood best friend liked to have his ice cream (“chocolate, vanilla, no sprinkles, and two cherries on each flavor”). Truly, we often begin to love once the subject of our affection is no longer within reach.

Another saying we often find in fiction and in our lives is “time heals all wounds.” Although I’d like to leave that up to the reader’s interpretation, I do find that there is a speck of truth in those words. While we might not heal completely, maybe even never—time does help. With time, our experiences can grow around that grief, hopefully making it easier to carry that weight with us.

We invite you to discover a different side of Yen On, one dedicated to literary works that tackle such obstacles. Selected below are four works that made us reflect on life’s hardest challenge: to love and to let go.


The God of Nishi-Yuigahama Station

By Takeshi Murase

On the first day of spring, a train derails, causing numerous deaths. Two months later, rumors spread of a ghost at Nishi-Yuigahama Station with the power to send others back in time to the day of the terrible accident. The story attracts a woman who lost her fiancé, a man who lost his father, and a boy who lost his unrequited love. A chance to go back, to see those dear to them, seems almost too good to be true. What will they do now that they have it?

Three Days of Happiness

By Sugaru Miaki

How much is life truly worth? Kusunoki used to believe he was destined for great things. Ostracized as a child, he held on to a belief that a good life was waiting for him in the years ahead. Now, at [SJ3] the age of twenty, he’s a completely mediocre college student with no motivation, no dreams, and no money. After learning he can sell his remaining years—and just how little they’re worth—he chooses to divest himself of all but his last three months. Has Kusunoki truly destroyed his last chance to find happiness…or has he somehow found it?

Even If this Love Disappears Tonight

By Misaki Ichijo

When Tooru Kamiya is pushed into falsely confessing his love to Maori Hino, she tells him she’ll date him on three conditions.
1) Don’t talk to her until after school.
2) Keep any communication between them concise.
3) Don’t really fall in love.
Unfortunately, he isn’t able to keep the last rule—and when he tells her how he feels, she reveals that she has an illness that prevents her from remembering anything that happened the previous day, and that she uses a diary to keep track. But Tooru is determined to build a relationship with her, one day at a time…

You Can’t See the Snow

By Rokudo Ningen

One summer night, Natsuki Uzume meets Yuki Iwato, an art student from the same university, and falls in love. After that, they spend night after night together. But as autumn approaches, Yuki suddenly tells him to find a cute girlfriend, wishes him well, and disappears from his life. Desperate to see her again, Natsuki visits her family home, but an unimaginable secret awaits him there: Yuki suffers from a mysterious illness that forces her to sleep through the winter each year. Is Natsuki willing to stay with her, even if it means spending every winter alone? And can Yuki, whose strange way of life has only brought her heartbreak, trust him enough to give him a chance?

Last month, we released an in-depth review of this novel, which you can read here.


Ultimately, love is a challenging topic to write about, even more difficult if observed through the lenses of grief and the passage of time. The selection we have proposed above is not exhaustive of this subject, but it is a great start if you are interested in exploring how this topic has been interpreted by modern Japanese writers.