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Perhaps it is different for you...
on 10 October 2006
The book is certainly exciting - or at least it coveys a sense of excitement and adventure of the ninenteenth century which has probably lost to us. But I could not continue reading, most likely because I am Japanese and there are so many little things in the story that have troubled me. The Japanese characters in the book keep saying 'hai, sodesu'. Well, this is what the Japanese might have said to the occupying Americans after WWII. People of the nineteenth century, certainly of the warrior class would not have spoken like this. While there were plenty of impoverished samurai around at that time, no daughter would be sent to a brothel without being cut off from the family, and the depiction of the first wife therefore is very unconvincing. I also sensed a hint of orientalism in his depiction of Japanese women. Well, men are always men, and Western men remains Western, it seems. And I am always puzzled with the over-appreciation of of the influence of Buddhism in Japanese society, present and past, by Western authors - believe me, if you go around saying 'existence is suffering', you would not start a quasi-revolution to modernise/Westernise a country. However, if you are not familiar with Japanese history and society, perhaps this reads like a great story.