Natsume Soseki's only coming-of-age novel, Sanshiro depicts the eponymous twenty-three-year-old protagonist as he leaves the sleepy countryside to attend a university in the constantly moving "real world" of Tokyo.
Baffled and excited by the traffic, the academics, and-most of all-the women, Sanshiro must find his way among the sophisticates that fill his new life. An incisive social and cultural commentary, Sanshiro is also a subtle portrait of first love, tradition, and modernization, and the idealism of youth against the cynicism of middle age.
This poignant coming of age story may be unfamiliar to Western readers, possessing very little overt resolution or clear turning points for our passive protagonist. However, it is well worth reading, expressing with clarity and honesty the confusion and weakness of an introspective young man approaching adulthood.