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Mencius
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:41 am    Post subject: Has anyone read..... Reply with quote
.....

Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan (Eiji Yoshikawa)

The Samurai Banner Of Furin Kazan (Yasushi Inoue)

For some reason I came across these titles and they sounded interesting. But I'd like to double-check with people here before I consider buying them as to whether they're any good.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I've been reading Taiko for about a year now (it's quite dense and I'm easily distracted). It's quite good, though it doesn't feel quite as nuanced as Musashi (I loved Yoshikawa's descriptions of moments and nature in Musashi, very "Zen" and harmonious).
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Mencius
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Great, thanks for the recommendation. I'll put it on my "to buy" list.

Any other comments on either book welcome. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have about 25 pages to go in Taiko. Been reading it off and on for the last few months. Probably took about 10 weeks to get through it all reading a few chapters a night. Personally, I found it to be a bit of an ordeal. Wooden prose and flat characters were the two major impediments. I'm curious if it is any more interesting in Japanese. I finished it more out of a sense of duty to read every bit of Japanese historical fiction I could get my hands on. That said, I still liked it better than Musashi, because I liked reading an overview of Hideyoshi's career better.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I have enjoyed Taiko. However, once my boy Nobunaga dies, I quit reading it. Furin Kazan I have read in Japanese and English. Somehow, the movie is better in my opinion. I do not know why.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:27 pm    Post subject: Re: Has anyone read..... Reply with quote
Mencius wrote:
.....

Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan (Eiji Yoshikawa)

The Samurai Banner Of Furin Kazan (Yasushi Inoue)

For some reason I came across these titles and they sounded interesting. But I'd like to double-check with people here before I consider buying them as to whether they're any good.


Taiko has been around forever. I read it in 1994. If you do consider buying them, consider buying them from the Samurai Archives store - every penny counts when it comes to paying for the server!
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I read Taiko about five years ago and found it extremely boring. I think it is because Yoshikawa did not give us any reason to care about Hideyoshi, or anyone else. My memory of it is that we were not really given any idea of his real motivation or goals.
I remember feeling sorry for the translator having to get through it. At least he did not have to translate the whole multi-volume work. According to the library catalog, the translation is of an abridgment by Eimei Yoshikawa.
I read Shin Heiki Monogatari and Musashi much before. The former was my first Japanese historical fiction, and I got very involved. I do not remember being bored by Musashi, but though I have no intention of reading it again.
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Mencius
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 2:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Has anyone read..... Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
If you do consider buying them, consider buying them from the Samurai Archives store - every penny counts when it comes to paying for the server!


I'd love to, but I can't afford to pay in dollars and pay for the extra shipping given the current exchange rates!

Any other similar books people can recommend?
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Are you looking for semi-"accurate" historical fiction, or just "samurai" themes/settings?

If you don't mind the latter (and I'm fairly sure I'll catch some flack for this...), I personally enjoyed Lian Hearn's "Tales of the Otori" series. Certainly went a lot faster than Taiko. Laughing
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you Very Happy

Kabuki Dancer by Sawako Ariyoshi is set in the years 1588 - 1609. It's the story of Izumo no Okuni, the woman who was the first to present the type of dance/drama known as kabuki. I like it for the richness of the background and the emotional life of the characters.

Ariyoshi also wrote The Doctor's Wife, based on the Edo period doctor Hanaoka Seishu who invented his own anaesthetic, based on datura. It's a fascinating story.

And lately I've been reading The Curious Case of Inspector Hanshichi by Okamoto Kido, which is set in 1860s Edo - lots of fun.

I have read Taiko - I borrowed it from a friend, but the book of Yoshikawa's I most enjoyed was his autobiography Fragments of a Past.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Matsuhide wrote:
Are you looking for semi-"accurate" historical fiction, or just "samurai" themes/settings?


It doesn't have to be the former, but when I read the Otori thingy I found it a bit too children-orientated for my tastes. Like I got fed up with Harry Potter because of the teenage anxt that cropped up repeatedly.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Mencius wrote:
Matsuhide wrote:
Are you looking for semi-"accurate" historical fiction, or just "samurai" themes/settings?


It doesn't have to be the former, but when I read the Otori thingy I found it a bit too children-orientated for my tastes. Like I got fed up with Harry Potter because of the teenage anxt that cropped up repeatedly.

Mencius,

You do have some sort of inkling about whom Heron is, do you? Wink I think this may have been pointed out to you before.

Also, why are you posting a question about Taiko and looking for book recommendations in the San no Maru? You have looked in the literature forum as well as the samurai fiction store on the SA Amazon page to get some ideas of what to read?
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:

And lately I've been reading The Curious Case of Inspector Hanshichi by Okamoto Kido, which is set in 1860s Edo - lots of fun.


Are you reading this on-line at the Japan Times site or is it available in book form now?

Thanks for the lead on Kabuki Dancer. Despite Publisher's Weekly describing it as an "overlong and underwhelming history lesson disguised as a romance," the subject matter has tweaked my interest.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Shinsendo,

Have you tried looking up Hanshichi under the Samurai Fiction grouping on the SA's Amazon store? Laughing

Here's the link.
http://astore.amazon.com/samurai-20/detail/0824831004

And I'm reading it, too. A dear friend sent to me as a gift and I am very grateful for it. Very Happy I love old mysteries, stories of old Edo (and the action takes place in lots places near where I live/visit which is cool) and Japanese history, so this book has been a real delight. My only beef is that the translation is a little "unbalanced" at times. I'm not sure if that is as a result always of the translator or Okamoto Kido's writing style. Also, a few modern expressions are used and seem really out of place in the book.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Mencius wrote:
Matsuhide wrote:
Are you looking for semi-"accurate" historical fiction, or just "samurai" themes/settings?


It doesn't have to be the former, but when I read the Otori thingy I found it a bit too children-orientated for my tastes. Like I got fed up with Harry Potter because of the teenage anxt that cropped up repeatedly.


Yeah, that's along the lines of the flack I was expecting. Embarassed It definitely starts out that way; in fact, when I bought the first "book" the only copy I could find was just a pseudo-novella form of the first few chapters of "Across the Nightingale Floor" in the teen-reader section at a local Borders (I do, by far, prefer the cover art of that format to the full books though, with the exception of "Harsh Cry of the Heron"). However, Tomasu does grow up. If you feel like giving it another shot, I suggest starting with "Harsh Cry of the Heron." You don't need to have read the other books to enjoy/understand it, it's written in third-person, it's not just centered on Tomasu, and all the main characters are "grown up." If you end up liking it and want to go back to understand more of the back-story, you can go back to the first three to see how Tomasu gets through that angst (don't forget, we've all been through it). I've yet to read "Heaven's Net is Wide" but plan to at some point when I get the chance. Also, I could never even touch a Harry Potter book... I understand the comparison, but the extended themes and setting of Otori are much more to my liking.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Shinsendo,

Have you tried looking up Hanshichi under the Samurai Fiction grouping on the SA's Amazon store? :lol:

Here's the link.
http://astore.amazon.com/samurai-20/detail/0824831004

And I'm reading it, too. A dear friend sent to me as a gift and I am very grateful for it. :D I love old mysteries, stories of old Edo (and the action takes place in lots places near where I live/visit which is cool) and Japanese history, so this book has been a real delight. My only beef is that the translation is a little "unbalanced" at times. I'm not sure if that is as a result always of the translator or Okamoto Kido's writing style. Also, a few modern expressions are used and seem really out of place in the book.


Thanks for the link. Is it possible to link up SA with amazon.ca too? It would be nice to support the site without having to pay duty on books crossing the border. Speaking of Edo mysteries, have you read Ikenami Shotaro (Baian)? Some of the stories are available in English as Ninja Justice. Still working up my Nihongo to the level where I can read it in the original.


Last edited by Shisendo on Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Shisendo wrote:
Is it possible to link up SA with amazon.ca too? It would be nice to support the site without having to pay duty on books crossing the border.


Unfortunately no. If I could add non-US amazons, I'd have already loaded up on the Japanese section.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Shisendo wrote:
heron wrote:

And lately I've been reading The Curious Case of Inspector Hanshichi by Okamoto Kido, which is set in 1860s Edo - lots of fun.


Are you reading this on-line at the Japan Times site or is it available in book form now?

Thanks for the lead on Kabuki Dancer. Despite Publisher's Weekly describing it as an "overlong and underwhelming history lesson disguised as a romance," the subject matter has tweaked my interest.


I read the introduction on line and it caught my interest. I ordered the book as I prefer reading in that form. I agree with OK's comments about the style and translation, but I really like the main character and the setting.

Yes, PW's description of Kabuki Dancer is not inaccurate Very Happy but I still enjoyed it because of the detailed background. It is rather heavy going (like Taiko) Japanese historical novels seem to have very different intentions from Western ones and the approach to narrative is quite different. I haven't read Ikenami Shotaro. I'm sure I should - the NLA has 11 titles but maybe I'll try him in English first. Laughing
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
I haven't read Ikenami Shotaro. I'm sure I should - the NLA has 11 titles but maybe I'll try him in English first. :lol:


Ninja Justice is a quick, but enjoyable read. There are lots of little details that give an Edo period feel. The crimes can be quite gruesome, but that's probably necessary to give Baian's righteous assassin character the pretense to use his skills.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Mencius wrote:
It doesn't have to be the former, but when I read the Otori thingy I found it a bit too children-orientated for my tastes. Like I got fed up with Harry Potter because of the teenage anxt that cropped up repeatedly.
You do have some sort of inkling about whom Heron is, do you? Wink I think this may have been pointed out to you before.


Well I do now - at least until I leave the forum for another two years or so and forget again. No offence to heron, of course, as many people do like the books, and I think they're well written.

However, Matsuhide's comments about the later books are encouraging. I'll have a look into that.

Quote:
Also, why are you posting a question about Taiko and looking for book recommendations in the San no Maru?


Because I'm slow and haven't used the forum for ages, ergo not up to speed with its layout. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Shisendo wrote:
Speaking of Edo mysteries, have you read Ikenami Shotaro (Baian)? Some of the stories are available in English as Ninja Justice. Still working up my Nihongo to the level where I can read it in the original.
Thanks for the head's up. I got to say that the title Ninja Justice normally would put me off, but if it's about Baian, I'll have to eventually check it out. Very Happy But...before I can do that, I need to start Professor Vaporis's Tour of Duty. It looks uber cool. Stay tuned for the review.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Thanks for the head's up. I got to say that the title Ninja Justice normally would put me off


Yeah, that's what I was thinking. It sounds interesting - lots of good recommendations here (just hope I can get copies without too much trouble).
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
Kabuki Dancer by Sawako Ariyoshi is set in the years 1588 - 1609. It's the story of Izumo no Okuni, the woman who was the first to present the type of dance/drama known as kabuki. I like it for the richness of the background and the emotional life of the characters.

I'd been playing with the idea of a story-arc involving her and eventually leading up to a lycanthropic-kabuki actor in Edo. Laughing
This sounds like great research material! Right On
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
@Mencius: not offended at all. Everyone has different taste in books. I hope you find something you like among these suggestions.

@Matsuhide I can see that story-arc would have considerable possibilities Shocked Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 07, 2009 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
@Mencius: not offended at all. Everyone has different taste in books. I hope you find something you like among these suggestions.


I've decided to give Tales of the Otori another go. Anything to get me off Terry Pratchett (wonderful to read but awful in helping my own writing along)!
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