A Flowering Of Peaches And Motherhood: Bride In Her Unlucky Year(32)

Ryoko Shinohara as Akiko.

In the Japanese 12 part series Bride in her Unlucky Year(Hanayome wa Yakudoshi), peaches play a major role in determining characters’ futures.  Akiko, a former news announcer, is in her 32nd year; her unlucky year.  First, she loses her job to a younger girl, whose only advantage is her beauty.  Then, she is given an ultimatum:  to pose as a fake bride in the country for a television program or work in a warehouse.  After phoning a number of ex-boyfriends, who might suit her purpose, and not finding any takers, she comes across Ichirou Azuchi, whose family owns a peach orchard, although Ichirou himself owns a lingerie store in Tokyo.  The series features the common Japanese themes of city versus country and  modern sophistication versus traditional values.  Akiko decides to go to the Azuchi home to apply for a three-month bridal training program.  Her first confrontation is with her mother-in-law to be, the commanding matriarch of the Azuchi clan.  But all Azuchi sees is a lady in simple dress selling peaches at a stand.  She tastes one of the peaches and finds it delicious.  Thus begins her slow accommodation into the Azuchi household.    As Akiko sees the love her domineering “Mother”  has for each individual peach, she begins to realize that despite an austere exterior, “Mother” has a kind heart.  When Akiko helps out in the orchard, she learns to value each person’s unique contribution.  But most of all, she feels the need to heal the breach that has separated mother and son for twelve years, largely due to a misunderstanding.  When Ichirou yells at his mother:  “You can only love peaches, you can’t love people!”, he fails to realize that to her they are one and the same.  Each of her three children were given their own peach tree at birth, and Ichirou’s mother takes special care of each of them.  So, Akiko’s bridal training course involves the taking care of peaches, which are to be nurtured and saved at all cost.  Although, she is unmasked as a fake bride, while using the family for a show, her concern for all family members; her braving a typhoon to help “Mother” save the peaches, and, especially, her healing of the rift between Momoko and her son Teechan, earn her a permanent place on the Azuchi farm. And Ichirou is now a much more mature husband.  Such is the power of peaches and motherhood.