I spent the first 6 years of my life in Japan. I love the book. Have read it twice and have shared it with my mother, sisters, daughter and son. Just found the book in hardback for my library.
"So lonely am I
My soul is a floating weed
Severed at the roots"
This is how Lady Asano has felt since the forced suicide execution of her father. Adrift in a dangerous wworld, Lady Asano vows to avenge her father's deatha and restore his name to honor. To do so, she will have to travel the Tokaido Road.
As the novel opens, Lady Asano has transformed herself into Cat, a high-ranking coutesan, to support her widowed mother. Yet Cat's career is temporary; the powerful Lord Kira's campaign against her family is continuing and she must find Oishi, leader of the samurai of the Asano clan, weapons master, philosopher and Cat's teacher. Cat believes he is three hundred miles to the southwest in the imperial city of Kyoto.
Disguising her lovliness in the humble garments of a traveling priest, Cat begins her quest. All she has is her samurai training--in Haiku and Tanka poetry, in the use of the deadly six-foot weapon, the naginata, and in Japanese Zen thought. And she will need them all, for a ronin has been hired to trail her.
The ronin, a lordless samurai, is Tosa no Hanshiro. His weapon is the traditional long-sword, a two-hundred-year-old Kanesada blade. But he will find cunning adversaries in Cat and her faithful traveling companion Kasane. A peasant girl, Kasane is simple, her poetry a little crude. But her devotion to Cat runs deep.
Both picaresque and tragic, filled with the grand poetry, chivalrous love, and rollicking goings-on of the era, "The Tokaido Road" is a stunning achievement by a novelist writing at the peak of her considerable powers.
This book is a romance story set during the year the 47 ronin were ploting their revenge, with exception the two main characters most people mention are historical figures. I would of liked this book better if the author stayed with the Japanese names of some of the characters instead the English translation.
I loved this book. Great take on a Japanese historical event and scandal. Although it gets a little racy near the end, the majority of the book is about a woman in pursuit of revenge for her father's death, and the great journey she must make to achieve that revenge.
A $0.25 garage sale find, I figured that this book would be at least useful as a popcorn read--or for a scan of the hilarious facing page with a painting of two vaguely Eurasian individuals with fluffy permed-looking black hair having a romantic interlude in the forest.
I just couldn't get into it. I set into the story and got the vague feeling that the author was viewing the culture she was writing as if they were some sort of tribe of noble savages. I tried to put that aside, but the feeling was pervasive, and not helped by the fact that she translated a couple of names into English.
It'd be like writing about a character who called herself Sarah, but translating into Princess. It's silly and condescending...as is this book, in general.