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The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail…
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The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (2007)

by Gail Tsukiyama

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This fine novel follows two Japanese families over three decades - from 1930s to 1960s. Interesting detail on sumo wrestling, Noh theater and the effects of the war. Tsukiyama's writing is poetic. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 2, 2016 |
Was rather slow paced and hmm, the best word I can use to describe it is aloof. While the characters were all likable, they seemed very one-dimentioned to me, lacking any emotional depth. ( )
  tmscott13 | Jan 23, 2016 |
Couldn't finish, too many other books vying for my attention. ( )
  NitaPagin | Nov 17, 2015 |
When I started The Street of a Thousand Blossoms I thought I was going to have some issues with it. The characters seemed stiff and distant. My reaction might have had more to do with Japanese culture than with Gail Tsukiyama's writing, but either way it took me awhile to get to know and care for the people in her story. But I couldn't stop listening (I had the audio version of the book read by Stephen Park). The novel is filled with careful descriptions of aspects of Japanese culture, creating a picture of life in Japan during and after World War II that is fascinating.

Then, as I read further, the characters began to come alive. I read another review that criticized the novel for going on too long after the war, but I found the personal tragedies that occurred at the end to be the best part. The characters had interesting reactions to the events they experienced, which made me care for them.

The story is about two brothers whose parents are killed in a ferry accident, so they are raised by their grandparents. One of the brothers, Hiroshi, is a talented sumo wrestler. The other, Kenji, is drawn to make Noh theater masks. Because the brothers are both interested in careers that are important to Japanese culture, Tsukiyama can spend a great deal of time describing those pastimes. Sumo wrestling gets a little more space than Noh theater, which disappointed me a bit. But all the descriptions were interesting to me.

I had some trouble with the names. I don't speak Japanese, so the sounds didn't stick with me as well as English names would. Combine that with the fact that the author used nicknames, surnames, and titles as well as the common names for some of the characters and I was confused. But after I listened to the narrative for awhile, the story always straightened itself out.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who would like to learn more about Japanese culture, especially around World War II.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Aug 28, 2015 |
In the Street of a Thousand Blossoms, two orphaned brothers Hiroshi, who want to be a Sumo &Kenji who has an interest in mask making are deeply affected by WW II. Two young daughters of a sumo master also find their lives darkened by the war.
This book tells the heart warming story of how WWII affects these simple families. How tradition shapes their lives. I can bearly believe i am the first one to enter it here as part of my library ( )
  AstridG | Feb 3, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312274823, Hardcover)

"Just remember," Yoshio said quietly to his grandsons. "Every day of your lives, you must always be sure what you're fighting for."
 
It is Tokyo in 1939. On the Street of a Thousand Blossoms, two orphaned brothers are growing up with their loving grandparents, who inspire them to dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows unusual skill at the national obsession of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of creating hard-carved masks for actors in the Noh theater.
Across town, a renowned sumo master, Sho Tanaka, lives with his wife and their two young daughters: the delicate, daydreaming Aki and her independent sister, Haru. Life seems full of promise as Kenji begins an informal apprenticeship with the most famous mask-maker in Japan and Hiroshi receives a coveted invitation to train with Tanaka. But then Pearl Harbor changes everything. As the ripples of war spread to both families' quiet neighborhoods, all of the generations must put their dreams on hold---and then find their way in a new Japan.
In an exquisitely moving story that spans almost thirty years, Gail Tsukiyama draws us irresistibly into the world of the brothers and the women who love them. It is a world of tradition and change, of heartbreaking loss and surprising hope, and of the impact of events beyond their control on ordinary, decent men and women. Above all, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is a masterpiece about love and family from a glorious storyteller at the height of her powers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:08 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"It is Tokyo in 1939. On the Street of a Thousand Blossoms, two orphaned brothers are growing up with their loving grandparents, who inspire them to dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows unusual skill at the national obsession of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of creating hand-carved masks for actors in the Noh theater." "Across town, a renowned sumo master, Sho Tanaka, lives with his wife and their two young daughters: the delicate, daydreaming Aki and her independent sister, Haru. Life seems full of promise as Kenji begins an informal apprenticeship with the most famous maskmaker in Japan and Hiroshi receives a coveted invitation to train with Tanaka. But then Pearl Harbor changes everything. As the ripples of war spread to both families' quiet neighborhoods, all of the generations must put their dreams on hold - and then find their way in a new Japan."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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