The frozen soul: sin and forgiveness in miura ayako’s freezing point

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Miura Ayako (1922–99) rose from obscurity to literary stardom on the basis of her first novel, Hyōten, published serially in 1964–5, and became in the process not only one of Japan’s best-selling novelists but also one of its leading Christian voices. Hyōten (Freezing point), one of the best-known and most widely read novels of the past few decades, follows the travails of one family in Hokkaido as they struggle with marital infidelity, death, deception and betrayal, and was written to illustrate the Christian notion of original sin. It fails fully to address this notion, however, with the intended religious theme muted in favor of achieving success as a serialized novel. The novel thus raises interesting questions regarding the nature of so-called ‘evangelistic literature’ and the continuing debate in Japan over the relationship between ‘pure’ and ‘popular’ literature. This article argues that it is only in the sequel to Hyōten, Zoku Hyōten (serialized from 1970 to 1971), that Miura, now firmly established as a Christian novelist, returned to the characters and situations in her first novel and adequately depicted the religious themes of sin and forgiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-429
Number of pages23
JournalJapan Forum
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Christian literature
  • Forgiveness
  • Miura Ayako
  • Original sin
  • Popular literature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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