Kanoko Okamoto (1889-1939) seems to be influenced by nobody and is a very unique woman-writer in modern Japanese literature. However, Shakespeare casts a shadow on this most original, self-concentrated novelist. One example of this is her short story called Natsu-no-yo-no-yume (1937).
She is said to have been motivated to write this story by seeing a Shakespearian picture, A Midsummer-Night’s Dream. But what she produced is seemingly utterly different from the Shakespearian play. However when we compare these two works closely, we can discern their similarity as well as their difference. In short, she borrowed the background, the framework, and the romantic atmosphere from the Shakespearian play, but as for the characters and the theme of love, there she introduced herself.
In the short story, Saiko plies between her brother’s home and her fiancé’s. One night, she meets her brother’s friend, Makise, who is the counterpart of Oberon, and soon comes to talk with him as often as possible in his large and pretty garden. Here, the garden can be compared to the forest on the outskirts of Athens. On the night before Saiko’s marriage, Makise tells her about his philosophy of love, saying that he would like the ideal situation in which a man and a woman understand each other so thoroughly as to be able to live peacefully in the world of love by just exchanging whistles like two birds on a branch, without being immersed in sexual love. He adds that this state of love can be found only in fairy-land. Saiko agrees with him and gives him, through her innocence, naivety, and her romantic way of thinking, what he needs most — that is, the inspiration and encouragement to do the great work of his life — without being his lover.
Thus, in this short story, Kanoko Okamoto, expressed what she thought of ideal love between men and women, and what she believed to be the true role of a woman towards a man; but within Shakespearian framework. But that she had to depict this ideal state of love in a fairy world shows her grief that after her own troubled life with love, she could not yet reach the ideal state of love, in real life.