While not exactly an exciting read, most of the diaries in this book contain quite good narratives that go beyond the basic doings of the days and are reflective in nature about politics, "the Japanese way," and the physical and mental anguish during war while also discussing the struggles for food, inequities in distribution, the black market, neighborhood associations, difficulties in getting to work - and in finding coffins. A good variety of people are represented, including a kamikaze pilot eager to defend his country to the death because "we cannot not win," a soldier with misgivings who hoped for a cease-fire, musings of a Christian housewife who had spent time in the U.S., a weary working woman who writes, "no doubt the sun is unimpressed...," a hungry old man dreaming of his next meals and reminiscing of the countless sweetfish he caught as a boy," and evacuated children who seem happy except that they keep losing weight. There is a highly informative introduction that explains and summarizes the wartime situations within Japan to give readers a historical and cultural background to the diaries. A glossary and index finish the reading.
This book has a place in libraries and educational institutions as a rare English language study of Japanese lives during WWII, but it is a worthwhile addition to the bookshelves of anyone curious about how the Japanese people survived the war. I'm keeping mine! See also Senso: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War: Letters to the Editor of Asahi Shimbun