Yes, I really enjoyed a complete second reading of the entire Sea of Fertility
series. The first time I read it was during my first year of college. It was an eye opener to me then as my exposure to literature up to that point had been limited to American and Western European (largely English) works. It really broadened my interests, especially into the culture and literature of Japan. I really got a lot more out of the books this time. In addition to the Japanese grounding of the books, and the exploration of Buddhist concepts of predestination and reincarnation, that I came away with back then this second reading impressed me on the level of revealing a realistic portrait of a man's [Honda] life from young adult to old age. Something that I was less receptive to in my first reading. The last few pages of the last book in the set [Decay of the Angel
] were as thought provoking as I recalled. Thus ends my note of encouragement to any with interest in reading the other three books.
Now to comment on some comments from others.
One important realization about Kiyoaki, and about Honda's attraction to him as a friend, is the concepts of predestination and reincarnation that continue to be developed throughout the tetraology (with a lengthy delve into the history and beliefs of these concepts in the first part of The Temple of Dawn
) . In Honda's view Kiyoaki reappears twice more, reincarnate, and always destined to die at an early age at the height of beauty and hope.
As far as Satoko being so compliant with the wishes of her own family [the Ayakuras] as well as the Matsugaes in agreeing to abort her baby [by Kiyoaki ] and renouncing her love affair with Kiyoaki, in my opinion that all has to be understood with the veneration of the Emperor and the imperial family at that time in history. In that light even her on her own choosing to end the betrothal to Prince Harunori is quite the act of rebellion.