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“Planting” by Aoko Matsuda

“Marguerite planted sadness. She planted anxiety. She planted regret. She planted fear. She planted fear. She planted fear. She planted fear. She planted fear.”

“Planting” was published in 2012, inspired by the Great East Japan Earthquake.


What makes Matuda’s language unique is its rhythm and repetition. When I first read her story, I was surprised by her style, free from the conventional usage of Japanese.


The protagonist’s job is to plant. At first, she plants something beautiful, colorful, and heart-warming. All of a sudden, those pleasant items turn into something repulsive, grotesque, and macabre. She’s only allowed to “plant” things, however much she wants to bury them. By planting, the roots spread all over and hatred and fear get amplified incessantly.


I find repetition is one of the most important elements of this story. Repeated words and phrases make their meanings magnified. At the same time, the repetitious act of “planting” seemingly brings some kind of hope. The key to facing fear is probably repetition, which could simply mean moving our hands, taking walks, or doing our routine. The rhythm born out of it could lead to something buoyant.


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