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Japan

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Mello
Reader
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Japan

Postby Mello » Tue September 29th, 2009, 12:12 am

A recent trip has whetted my appetite for Japanese history. I read James Clavell’s Shogun many years ago (and still have an old tatty copy on the shelves), but I was wondering what else is out there. Anyone have any recs?

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Margaret
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: I can't answer this in 100 characters. Sorry.
Favorite HF book: Checkmate, the final novel in the Lymond series
Preferred HF: Literary novels. Late medieval and Renaissance.
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Postby Margaret » Tue September 29th, 2009, 1:35 am

I really enjoyed The Scent of Sake by Joyce Lebra, about the daughter of a sake brewer in 19th century Japan. There's a review at HistoricalNovels.info. It transported me to 19th century Japan, and also offered food for thought that transcended time and place.
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annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Tue September 29th, 2009, 3:36 am

An old favourite of mine is Lucia St Clair Robson's "Tokaido Road". It's based on the famous Japanese samurai tale of the 47 Ronin

More recently I've enjoyed the series "Tales of the Otori" by Lian Hearn, strictly speaking fantasy, but she really capture the Japanese spirit.

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Nefret
Bibliomaniac
Favorite HF book: Welsh Princes trilogy
Preferred HF: The Middle Ages (England), New Kingdom Egypt, Medieval France
Location: Temple of Isis

Postby Nefret » Tue September 29th, 2009, 3:44 am

"annis" wrote:http://www.samurai-archives.com/ronin.html

More recently I've enjoyed the series "Tales of the Otori" by Lian Hearn, strictly speaking fantasy, but she really capture the Japanese spirit.


I agree. Those are some of my favourite books.

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diamondlil
Bibliomaniac

Postby diamondlil » Tue September 29th, 2009, 7:58 am

The only book I can really think of right now is The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer, which was an okay read.
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Mello
Reader
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Postby Mello » Tue September 29th, 2009, 10:45 pm

"Margaret" wrote:I really enjoyed The Scent of Sake by Joyce Lebra, about the daughter of a sake brewer in 19th century Japan.


Thank you. I will look this one up. When in Japan we attended a sake tasting with a female "sake samurai" and learnt a lot about sake. It was very interesting.

An old favourite of mine is Lucia St Clair Robson's "Tokaido Road". It's based on the famous Japanese samurai tale of the 47 Ronin


Thank you Annis. I will look this one up too. I have heard of the 47 Ronin - anything with samurai would be fascinating.

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Mello
Reader
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Postby Mello » Thu October 1st, 2009, 12:12 am

"diamondlil" wrote:The only book I can really think of right now is The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer, which was an okay read.


I think I already have this :o Should peruse the bookshelves before I ask in future!

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Susan
Bibliomaniac
Location: New Jersey, USA

Postby Susan » Thu October 1st, 2009, 12:59 am

There's a 2008 novel that is actually the story of the Michiko, the present Empress, called The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz.
http://www.johnburnhamschwartz.com/commoner.php

It has an exquisite cover.
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Chatterbox
Bibliophile
Location: New York

Postby Chatterbox » Thu October 1st, 2009, 6:04 pm

Pat Barr wrote a couple of interesting books set in Japan just as it was being 'opened' to the West in the mid 19th century. I think one was titled "Kenjiro". You can turn to some Japanese authors for more (there is very little Japanese HF written by non-Japanese authors). The classic is the Tale of Genji; there are several books about late 19th/early 20th century history. The Makioka Sisters is particularly good. If you want some ideas, check out Tuttle Publishing's website. They are the biggest publisher of English language books about Japan, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as Japanese books in translation.

The Commoner is beautifully written, although it's one of those books that has been roundly criticized by people who know Japan as being utterly implausible in its outcome and full of small errors that undermine it. I lived in Japan for several years in the 80s (and went to college with a Japanese prince in Canada!) and I'd have to agree with a lot of the critiques. That said, it's still a good book.

There is an interesting book, very popular fiction rather than HF, that is loosely based on the life of Iva Toguri, aka "Tokyo Rose". (I used to work at a daily paper in Tokyo alongside her ex-husband...) It's called Flower of the Pacific by Lana McGraw Boldt. Quite good, and a very vivid description of Japan during WW2. Along similar lines, there is John Toland's two-book series about an American family who lived in Japan during the early 20th century; the eldest daughter marries a Japanese diplomat and must survive the war inJapan. The first book is Gods of War; the second is Occupation.

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Thu October 1st, 2009, 7:52 pm

Just remembered another couple I enjoyed- "Cloud of Sparrows" and its sequel "Autumn Bridge", by Takashi Matsuoka. They're set in 19th century Japan, and revolve around a group of American missionaries sent to Japan.


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