An Artist of the Floating World

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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Noriko Character Analysis

The younger, prettier, and more outspoken of Ono’s two daughters, Noriko is unmarried for much of the novel and, at nearly twenty-six years old, is becoming worried that she will not find a husband. The year before the action of the novel, the Ono family was in talks to marry Noriko to Jiro Miyake. After the Miyake family withdrew from marriage negotiations without providing a believable explanation, Noriko suspects that perhaps something her father said or did caused the rupture. At the novel’s start, Noriko is living alone with her father in their home, but working in an office. She often complains to Ono about his laziness, meddling, and lack of activity. Noriko is playful and good with children, getting along especially well with her nephew, Ichiro. Later, as marriage negotiations progress with a new match, Taro Saito, Noriko becomes stiff and nervous during the formal meeting of the two families. It is only after Ono tells the assembled group that he regrets some of his work during the war that Noriko begins to show her personality during the all-important meeting. The engagement goes through, the couple is eventually married, and Noriko moves out of her father’s spacious home and into a small modern apartment with her husband Taro. At the novel’s end, she is expecting her first child.

Noriko Quotes in An Artist of the Floating World

The An Artist of the Floating World quotes below are all either spoken by Noriko or refer to Noriko. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of An Artist of the Floating World published in 1986.
October 1948 Quotes

"We took him once to the cinema to see an American cowboy film. He's been very fond of cowboys ever since. We even had to buy him a ten-gallon hat. He’s convinced cowboys make that funny sound he does. It must have seemed very strange.”

“So that’s what it was,” I said with a laugh. “My grandson’s become a cowboy.”

Down in the garden, a breeze was making the foliage sway.

Noriko was crouching down by the old stone lantern near the back wall, pointing something out to Ichiro.

“Still,” I said, with a sigh, “only a few years ago, Ichiro wouldn't have been allowed to see such a thing as a cowboy film.”

Setsuko, without turning from the garden, said: “Suichi believes it's better he likes cowboys than that he idolize people like Miyamoto Musashi. Suichi thinks the American heroes are the better models for children now.”

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Noriko, Suichi , Ichiro
Related Symbols: Lanterns, Gardens
Page Number: 35-36
Explanation and Analysis:

“I realize there are now those who would condemn the likes of you and me for the very things we were once proud to have achieved. And I suppose this is why you're worried, Ono. You think perhaps I will praise you for things perhaps best forgotten.”

“No such thing,” I said hastily. “You and I both have a lot to be proud of. It's merely that where marriage talks are concerned, one has to appreciate the delicacy of the situation. But you've put my mind at rest. I know you'll exercise your judgement as well as ever.”

“I will do my best,” Matsuda said. “But, Ono, there are things we should both be proud of. Never mind what people today are all saying. Before long, a few more years, and the likes of us will be able to hold our heads high about what we tried to do. I simply hope I live as long as that. It's my wish to see my life's efforts vindicated.”

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Chishu Matsuda (speaker), Noriko
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:
November 1949 Quotes

'Noriko hasn't told you about the miai? Well, I made sure that evening there'd be no obstacles to her happiness on account of my career. I dare say I would have done so in any case, but I was nevertheless grateful for your advice last year.'

'Forgive me, Father, but I don't recall offering any advice last year. As for the matter of the miai, however, Noriko has indeed mentioned it to me a number of times. Indeed, she wrote to me soon after the miai expressing surprise at Father’s . . . at Father’s words about himself.’

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Setsuko (speaker), Noriko
Page Number: 190-191
Explanation and Analysis:
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Noriko Character Timeline in An Artist of the Floating World

The timeline below shows where the character Noriko appears in An Artist of the Floating World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
October 1948
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...available supplies to repairing damage to the main house. With only himself and his daughter Noriko living there, he felt less urgency to open the eastern wing. Today, Ono reports, the... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...his two daughters sit on the veranda, chatting as they used to before the war. Noriko tells her sister that their father has become much gentler and less tyrannical but needs... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...young child like Ichiro. Ichiro becomes insulted at this remark and shouts, “how dare you!” Noriko diverts Ichiro’s attention, saying she will not be able to lift the heavy table without... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Left alone with her father, Setsuko asks if Noriko’s marriage is imminent. Ono tells her it is not and recounts how Noriko has spoken... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Setsuko says that she imagines it was a terrible blow for Noriko when, the year before, the Miyake family had cut off marriage talks at the last... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...the last minute because they were confused about the right thing to do. Jiro and Noriko claimed that it was a love match, but in the end, they decided it wouldn’t... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...with his drawing, but Ichiro excitedly scribbles on the drawing before running off to find Noriko, yelling “hi yo Silver!” Ono sits for some minutes, thinking about nothing in particular, as... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
Eventually Ono goes out to the veranda and finds Setusko sitting there. Noriko and Ichiro are in the garden below. Ono sits with Setsuko and tells her about... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
After supper that evening, Ono tells Noriko about his plan to take Ichiro to the monster movie. Noriko says they already have... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...them the next day, but Ono replies that he has things he must do. Annoyed, Noriko says to her sister that their father has nothing to do but mope around the... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...Speaking very indirectly, Setsuko says Ono may want to take certain precautionary steps to ensure Noriko’s marriage negotiations progress as planned. Ono says he doesn’t know what she means. She says... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...meaning and that they do not want any misunderstandings to arise about the past, since Noriko is almost twenty-six and they cannot afford another failed marriage negotiation. She says that she... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...same that Setsuko seems to share Suichi’s perspective and that this perspective has spread to Noriko. During Setsuko’s visit, he noticed that the two sisters would sometimes break off their conversation... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Ono recalls how, a few days before, Noriko told him about running into Jiro Miyake. She told Ono that she had asked Jiro... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Ono says that this exchange with Noriko reminded him of the time he ran into Jiro outside of his workplace. Jiro had... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...Ono and this was why he ultimately decided his status was too low to marry Noriko. Setsuko treats this theory skeptically. (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Setsuko seems to have new theories, instilled in her by Suichi, for why Noriko’s marriage fell through. Since her recent visit, Ono has been thinking over his encounter with... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...that the Migi-Hidari once served. He says that he will give this serious thought once Noriko’s future is settled. (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...Dr. Saito last month when he took Ichiro to the monster movie. On that day, Noriko and Setsuko do not accompany them to the movie, and Ichiro says that it is... (full context)
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...Ono and Ichiro run into Dr. Saito, the father of Taro, the man with whom Noriko is in marriage negotiations. Ono gives a little information about the Saitos: unlike the Miyakes,... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...now understands that Ichiro brought the raincoat to hide under it. But at dinner with Noriko and Setsuko that night, Ichiro says it was the best movie he has ever seen.... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
After dinner, Ichiro is having trouble going to sleep. Noriko blames her father’s poor judgment in taking Ichiro to the monster movie, then goes to... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Ono tells Matsuda the reason he has come: his daughter Noriko is in marriage talks and someone may approach Matsuda to ask about the family. He... (full context)
April 1949
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...those trying to evade responsibility. In fact, Shintaro’s visit was only a few days after Noriko’s miai, the formal meeting between two families arranging their children’s marriages. (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...there. Setsuko is far away, and there is no one else to invite, so only Noriko and Ono plan to go to the miai. (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
The weeks leading up to the miai are tense ones for Ono and Noriko. Ono does not tell Noriko about all his efforts to make sure things go smoothly,... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
One afternoon, Ono sits on the veranda looking at shrubs he has pruned. Noriko has just gotten home from work, and she tells Ono that he has ruined the... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...on this conversation from the present moment, Ono reflects that, if he were to tell Noriko how much he had been doing on her behalf, she would likely be ashamed of... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...was disturbed that Kuroda might be so hostile to him, given how this could impact Noriko’s marriage. He writes Kuroda a friendly letter saying he would like to see him, but... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
On the day of the miai, Noriko seems especially anxious. Ono tries to lighten her mood by joking about how long she... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
For the first part of the evening, Noriko is very stiff and reserved. Although Noriko is quite bold when around people she knows,... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Ono is once again struck by how badly Noriko seems to be handling the tension. Taro’s attempts to draw her out of her shell... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
...and so he only knows Kuroda by reputation. Taro changes the subject, trying to engage Noriko on the topic of music. Then Mr. Kyo begins to tell a story. (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...tells Ono that he is sure he is being too harsh with himself. Turning to Noriko, he asks if Ono is always so hard on himself. Noriko, who has been staring... (full context)
November 1949
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Setsuko’s visit this year was brief, and she stayed with Taro and Noriko at their new home, so their walk together in the park was one of the... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
That day, Setsuko and Ono met Noriko and Ichiro by a statue, and then Ono took Ichiro to lunch at a department... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...Ichiro says that he drinks ten bottles of sake a night. He reports that Aunt Noriko has bought some sake for dinner that night and laughs that she might get completely... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...Setsuko. Ichiro says women don’t understand men drinking, then laughs again at the idea that Noriko might get drunk. (full context)
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
That evening, Ono and Ichiro go to the Izumimachi area, where Noriko and Taro’s apartment is. The area is full of small, modern apartments, which seem cramped... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Ono tells Setsuko and Noriko that he wants to give Ichiro a taste of diluted sake, but his daughters say... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...Setsuko says to Taro that even though he jokes about his work, she understands from Noriko that it is a stimulating work environment. Taro earnestly says how optimistic everyone at KNC... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...goes into the spare room where Ichiro is going to sleep. Ichiro asks Ono if Noriko is drunk and giggles at the idea. Ono tells Ichiro that he will soon grow... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...day in Kawabe Park: walking along, Ono and Setsuko say how glad they are that Noriko’s marriage worked out. Ono says that it was good that he heeded Setsuko’s advice to... (full context)
June 1950
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
...he had meant to visit Matsuda more often but had only visited once more since Noriko’s marriage talks. (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Matsuda asks after Noriko, and Ono tells him that Noriko is pregnant with her first child, and Setsuko is... (full context)