Snow Country

Snow Country Metaphors and Similes

"The bud of her lips opened and closed smoothly, like a beautiful little circle of leeches" (32) (Simile)

This unusual description of Komako's lips is visceral to the point of being slightly disturbing, but it highlights the voluptuousness that Shimamura sees in her. He will think of this particular detail again when he is disturbed by the directness of her samisen playing, allowing himself to return to his previous, sexualized conception of her.

"Stiff like a man's, and swept up into a high Japanese-style coiffure with not a hair out of place, it glowed like some heavy black stone." (39) (Simile)

Komako's hair is carefully done for her work as a geisha, and Shimamura is startled by the coldness of it when he feels it. Though an object of grave beauty, it is also a kind of burden upon her and a symbol of her bondage; significantly, she asks him on one of her visits to help him undo it, saying that she cannot herself.

"It was as cold as a very distant light." (57) (Simile)

Shimamura is drawn to Yoko by the qualities of coldness and distance that he finds in her look and voice. She is from the very beginning literally combined into a single image with the natural surroundings of the snow country within Shimamura's "evening mirror," serving to accentuate this kind of poignant but one-dimensional beauty.

"From the train window it was as though one strange piece of fruit had been left behind in the grimy glass of a shabby mountain grocery." (85) (Simile)

In this startlingly telling simile, Shimamura sees Komako in the train station waiting room and compares her to a pathetic unwanted object; that is in fact exactly what she is, and it is no surprise that he should notice this as he looks back to her from the train that will take him away from her.

"Her voice was gentle as she undressed the child and bathed it--soothing and agreeable, like the voice of a young mother." (139) (Simile)

From the time that Shimamura sees Yoko caringly nursing the invalid Yukio on the train, he identifies her as a sort of mother figure, one that exudes maternal warmth and yet still possesses the cool beauty of a young woman. In a way, Shimamura seems to identify himself with whomever Yoko is taking care of in his longing for a mother figure.