“I feel that it is very worthy if you can have this book. Despite everything, I want you to have it. It is a good book, so I think if I give it to you, it’ll be in a good hand,” said someone one day, when he offered this book to me.
As soon as I learned the story of this book, I couldn’t help thinking that I was not only given a book, but also a cat named Nana, and the special relationship he had with his beloved master, Satoru.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Author: Hiro Arikawa
Translated from Japanese to English by: Philip Gabriel
Publisher (English Edition): Transworld Publishers
Total of Pages: 247
Synopsis: It’s not the journey that counts, but who is at your side.
Nana is on a road trip, but he is not sure where to. All that matters is that he can sit beside his beloved Satoru in the front of his silver van. Satoru is keen to visit three old friends from his youth, though Nana doesn’t know why and Satoru won’t say.
Set againts the backdrop of Japan’s changing seasons and narrated with a rare gentleness and striking humour, Nana’s story explores the wonder and thrill of life’s unexpected detours. It is about friendship, solitude, and knowing when to give and when to take. Above all, it shows how acts of love, both great and small, can transform our lives.
The fact that I read it in the midst of my trip is what made this book even more special to me (I mean, look at the title, this book is perfect for a travel companion, hence I brought it with me)–eventhough I couldn’t give my full attention to the story that time. But even when I just saw the cover and read the synopsis, I was already able to smile and sure that “I was meant to read it.”
So, this book is using a cat’s perspective. It’s a stray cat with almost all-white body, except the two spots on its forehead and tail. Later, the cat was given a name “Nana” from Satoru, a guy who found it in the back of his silver van. Nana means “seven” in Japanese. Satoru thought of that name because Nana’s crooked tail resembles the form of number seven. Long story short, Nana also look like Satoru’s childhood cat named “Hachi” which means “eight”.
Funny thing is, Nana is actually a male cat, yet he couldn’t do anything when Satoru decided to give him a female-like name. This makes me wonder about all the cats I named before though. Did they like the name I gave to them (Ame, Mika, Miki, Puci, Pika, Piki, etc) or they actually also couldn’t stand it like Nana? Haha.
Now just wait a second. Isn’t Nana a girl’s name? I’m a fully fledged, hot-blooded male. In what universe does that make sense?
Their friendship began after Nana got struck by a car. He was hurted badly and all he could remember to ask for a help was a guy who used to leave crunchies for him in the silver van: Satoru.
What should I do? What could I do?
Somebody, help me! But that was idiotic. Nobody was going to help a stray.
Then I remembered the man who came every night to leave me crunchies. Maybe he could help.
And just like that, Satoru took Nana in and helped him recover until he finally became Satoru’s cat although Nana didn’t intend to stay in the first place. They are the perfect companion for each other for about five years before suddenly Satoru said he couldn’t keep Nana anymore.
Life, be it human or feline, doesn’t always work out the way you think it will.
If I had to give up living with Satoru, I’d just go back to the way I was five years ago. Back when the bone was sticking out of my leg. If we’d say goodbye, and I’d gone back on the life on the streets, it would not have been a big deal. I could go back being a stray tomorrow, no problem.
But if Satoru just let go of Nana like that, the title wouldn’t be “The Travelling Cat Chronicles” and this book wouldn’t be a best seller. Satoru took Nana travelling to find a new perfect home for his beloved cat instead, and as you turn the pages on and on, you’ll find many surprising facts and a sad yet beautiful story of Satoru’s life. Finally, you will see that no one in this world would ever love Nana as dearly as Satoru did.
First, they went to see Kosuke, Satoru’s childhood friend, the one that found Hachi (Satoru’s first cat) with him. Second, they went to see Yoshimine, Satoru’s friend in Junior High who is very fond of about farming, and then they went to see Sugi and Chikako, Satoru’s high school and college friends. And eventhough they all said they would take Nana to help Satoru, Satoru always found a reason to hold it back and brought Nana with him–again.
“It would have been perfect if they could have looked after you.”
There you go again, Satoru. That’s just sour grapes. Mount Fuji’s now well behind us.
If you intend to come and fetch me back one day, then you shouldn’t leave me there in the first place.
Yes. Satoru was really perfectionist about who is gonna take care of Nana. And that kind of act must be supported with a reliable reason about why he wanna give Nana up. And I just knew that the end of the story would be so sad.
In fact, this book made me feel like riding a roller coaster. It did make me smile, and it did make me cry too. It was really heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. Nana’s way to narrate the story and give some harsh yet cute comment (in a cat’s perspective) really made the story so much more enjoyable.
Here are some of my favorite lines in the book:
As long as I was leaving, it would be a lot more dignified to slip out on my own rather than have someone shoo me away. Cats are proud creatures, after all.
I get it. Having had Satoru take me in as his cat, I think I felt as lucky as he did.
Strays, by definition, have been abandoned or left behind, but Satoru rescued me when I broke my leg.
“But I made new friends wherever we went. I was sad to say goodbye to Kosuke, but in junior high I met Yoshimine, and in high school I met Sugi and Chikako. Our omiai meetings didn’t go so well with any of them, but they all said they’d take Nana for me. I’ve been so lucky to have this many people willing to take care of my darling cat.”
I am Satoru’s one and only cat. And Satoru is my one and only pal.
And a proud cat like me wasn’t about to abandon his pal. If living as a stray was what it took to be Satoru’s cat to the very end, then bring it on.
I removed every single tissue from the box and was sitting quietly in the corner contemplating the result of my actions.
“You don’t use them, so why take them out?”
Good point. But as you focus on your anger and on tidying up the floor, don’t all your sad feelings begin to lift a bit?
Sorry if it’s too much, but truth to be told: I love every single word written in this book! Not to mention my favorite scene when Satoru and Nana saw a rainbow together. I laughed and cried so much when I read this book. It broke my heart into million pieces but it brought me joy too.
And having this book make me feel like having Nana as well. Just like Kosuke, Yoshimine, Sugi, and Chikako who said they would take care of Nana for Satoru, I’ll forever cherish the story of Nana and Satoru, too.
“My story will be over soon.
But it’s not something to be sad about.
As we count up the memories from one journey, we head off on another.
Remembering those who went ahead. Remembering those who will follow after.
And someday, we will meet all those people again, out beyond the horizon.”