The Nose (Akutagawa) Summary

The Nose (Akutagawa) Summary

Zenchi Naigu, the Chaplain of a Buddhist temple, was endowed with unusually large nose. This physical feature causes him all sorts of difficulties in his daily life. Most of all Zenchi is worried about being a public spectacle. He attempts to avoid using the word 'nose' because he is frightened that this would bring attention to his big nose, he takes all possible measures that could help him to make his nose appear smaller, and when he is alone, the priest examines himself in the mirror from all sides. In other words, Zenchi's preoccupation with his nose prevents him from studying scriptures and other tasks required by his job.

One day one of the disciples, who are in charge of helping Zenchi eat, travels abroad and meets a Chinese doctor who claims to know of an effective way to shorten a nose. When the disciple returns to the temple, Zenchi pretends to not be interested in the new Chinese method, when in fact he cannot wait for the disciple to tell him of it. Eventually, he gives in, and asks the disciple to reveal what he has learned and to help him put it to practice. The procedure consists of three steps. Firstly the disciple needs to boil Zenchi's nose, then he has to stomp on it, and lastly he needs to remove the fat that has been extracted throughout the process.

The procedure is successful and Zenchi ends up with a shorter nose. At first he is excited, but soon he grows anxious, as he notices that people are laughing at him to his face, which is something that has not happened before. Consequently, Zenchi becomes bitter and harsh to those around him up until the point, when the disciple, who has previously helped him to shorten his nose, tells him that he will be punished for his sin of treating people badly instead of teaching the word of Buddha. Zenchi notices that ever since he has undergone the procedure, he has become far more unhappy than ever before. One morning, he wakes up with a good feeling. Everything seems nicer and better around him. When he examines his face, Zenchi finds out that his nose has grown back overnight.

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