Sweet bean paste is a story about Sentaro who works at a tiny confectionary shop named Doraharu. His life is fairly run of the mill. He spends each day selling dorayaki (a Japanese pancake filled with sweet bean paste). Sentro has failed. He has a criminal record and drinks too much. His dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. He was tired of his life but he couldn’t quit his job because of the debt he owned to his boss.
But everything is about to change.
One day a strange elderly woman, Tokue, appeared in front of his shop. She was seventy-six and her hands were bent like hook. She wanted to apply for a job at the shop. Sentaro hestitated to hire her since she looked too weak for the hard work at the shop. However, after he tasted the bean paste the woman gave, he decided to give her a chance to work.
Tokue’s job is to make the bean paste and to teach Sentaro how to make it. Because of Tokue’s bean paste, the sales began to rise. Together they made a great profit. And their friendship deepens as time passes. But their happiness doen’t last long. Unfortunately, Tokue’s dark secret has been revealed and Sentaro has to fire her for the sake of the shop’s business.
What would that secret would be? The secret may or may not surprise you as there are clues about Tokue’s condition in the beginning chapters of the story. But what’s interesting is the story behind her secret. It is really heart-breaking to know her story and will make you immediately falls into tears. It is also inspiring to see how she struggled and lived her life to the fullest despite the lack of hope. Moreover, like her perspective on life has changed Sentaro for good, I am sure it will also have effects to the lives of the readers.
Durian Sukegawa studied oriental philosophy at Waseda University, before going on to work as a reporter in Berlin and Cambodia in the early 1990s. He has written a number of books and essays, TV programmes and films. He lives in Tokyo.