The Samurai's Garden
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The Samurai's Garden

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  11,896 ratings  ·  1,116 reviews
The daughter of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, Tsukiyama uses the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s as a somber backdrop for her unusual story about a 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family's summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent hous...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1994)
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Chrissie
NO SPOILERS

This book is beautiful. The primary theme is about beauty. (And then there is a love story too.) I think beauty is very important in the Japanese culture. What really is beauty? The tempo is lulling, quiet, and calming. This too creates a kind of beauty. The concept of beauty is drawn through the lives of the main characters. The novel takes place at the time of the Rape on Nanking, when the Japanese were invading and slaughtering the Chinese at the end of the 1930s. In contrast, the...more
Aubrey
3.5/5

The jury's still out on this one, but frankly, I know myself too well to believe that they'll ever return with a definitive answer in hand.

Relying simply on gut instinct, I enjoyed the book. I have never traveled outside the US, and the cosmopolitan feeling of having aspects of China, Japan, and vague traces of Western culture all wrapped into one story was appealing, to say the least. The appeal for me was strengthened by the majority of the story taking place in Japanese landscapes filled...more
Kevon
This was an excellent and peaceful book...it is about a young chinese man who is sent to his parent's summer home at the beach in Japan to recover from an illness. The caretaker of the home becomes his life-teacher and as the book unfolds he learns about relationships, how to find peace within himself, and about love and loss. It is written as excerpts from his journal and so it is from his perspective...as though we, the reader, are sharing his inner-most thoughts and feelings. It gave me an in...more
Jeannette
Simply put: beautiful.

***************************

Second read July 2014, buddy-read with DianeLynn. Still a 5-star read.
Karla
A gracefully illuminating novel that is tender and as delicate as a first blooming blossom in Spring. There is so much to discuss in this story, perfect for book clubs. At first it appears so simple, a story of a young Chinese-Japanese young man named Stephen leaving his family house in Hong Kong so his younger sister may not get exposed his sickness. So he travels to stay at his family's Summer shore side home in Tarumi, Japan to recoup from a battle with tuberculosis. He stays with Matsu a mas...more
Diane Lynn
Buddy read with Jeannette

On the face of it, The Samurai’s Garden is a beautifully told story of one young man’s journey to figure out who he is, a sort of coming of age story. But there is really so much more below the surface. There is an enchanting and poignant love story. The reader is shown how beauty can exist in a cruel world. There is betrayal, adultery, young love, and two gardens that play a large role as a place of peace. Plus other topics I don’t want to mention so as not to spoil any...more
Ellery Adams
Languish for a while in the Tsukiyama's Japanese garden and you may never want to leave. The serenity created in Matsu's little haven is contradicted by the military domination of the Japanese over the Chinese and the reclusive leper colony struggling for a peaceful existence in a realm beyond that of war. It is to this environment that a young Chinese boy enters into in search of healthier air and soothing salt of the sea . As his body begins healing, his emotions are delicately fractured by al...more
CeeAnne
This review may seem a little backwards because I believe that there is so much more to this story than what is on the surface. I just finished this one, and I’ve been thinking about what it is that made me love it so much. I believe that one message in this book is not to take people at face value, but more so, that we should not judge people’s reactions to situations as weaknesses in their character. One character in this novel especially showed that being devoted to someone means not reacting...more
Patricia
A very old-fashioned book - sweet, slow, peaceful, with a gossamer-light style that will not appeal to all. It is nearly a fairy tale, and a very gentle one, at that. While it takes place during WWII (during Japan's massacre of Nanking), very little of the war intrudes. This is the author's choice, to show an interlude of the sort that took place for those stricken with TB (rather like the middle class Americans who would retreat to the Catskills in the late 19th C., early 20th C.). This is not...more
Sara
Such a quiet, slow paced book, but yet so much happens. A person's life can change so much in one short year.

During World War II, a young Chinese man stays at his family's beach house in Japan. The war between Japan and China is always in the background of the book, never quite forgotten even though it does not seem to impact the lives of the main characters directly. During the course of the year, there are floods and fires, celebrations and funerals, failed relationships and happy reunions.

As...more
Sande
Feb 06, 2009 Sande rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sande by: M
The Samurai’s Garden is a quick read, in journal style, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Nature-as-Character. It has a calming pace. This book covers a wide range of topics in human suffering, yet the elder characters are filled with acceptance and devotion. It is a lovely story about service.
Laura
A very touching book telling the story of Stephen, a chinese man, who is sent to his family's summer house in Japan in order to recover from tuberculosis. There, he meets Matsu, Sachi and Kenzo and how these friendships will change his life forever.
Laurel Y
The novel The Samurai’s Garden was written by Gail Tsukiyama. Gail Tsukiyama was born in San Francisco, California to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father. She went to San Francisco State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree as well as a Master of Arts Degree. Other books that she has written include Women of the Silk and The Language of Threads. The Samurai’s Garden is about a young Chinese man named Stephen who is sent to their family’s summer home in Japan to recover from Tuberc...more
Dolores Ayotte
The Samurai's Garden" is a novel that came highly recommended to me by my sister. I had no idea what to expect as she never gave me any hint about the book's content. At times, it can difficult to find the most appropriate words to describe how a novel has impacted the reader. This is one such novel.

I am neither familiar with Japanese nor Chinese culture, therefore, I was intrigued to learn more about both. Author Gail Tsukiyama has definitely been exposed to both cultures as the daughter of a C...more
Jordan
While a good read I would have to say this is my least favourite Gail Tsukiyama novel to date. While a great story and a touching one like most of her other novels I somehow wanted this story to give me more and was expecting it do so only be a little let down in the end. I also found fault with the author's attempt to try and non-stigmatize leprosy only to add fuel to the stigma such as that lepers skin rot and have a smell of rotting. That is just plain not true as lepers skin does not in fact...more
Kat (A Journey In Reading)
This was a beautiful book that has so many layers among its simple writing. Simple beauty.

Stephen is a Chinese man who is away at college when he is stricken by an illness and is sent home to recover. His parents decide to send him to their family home in Japan to recuperate. It is Japan where Stephen learns that many things in life are not as they seem, the things he once thought were important are irrelevant. Stephen is taken care of by his family's caretaker Matsu. Matsu has taken care of the...more
Sirpa Grierson
I read this almost a decade ago and again in 2014 for a reading group and surprisingly enjoyed it even more the second time. The quote "Even if you walk the same road a hundred times, you'll find something different each time" (210) is true for me in rereading this novel. Tsukiyama's novel is gentle and subtly crafted as we move through the seasons with Stephen, a 17-year-old Chinese adolescent who is sent from his home in Hong Kong to recover from tuberculosis at the family beach house in Japan...more
Shelli
I enjoyed reading this book. It's not often that I would say I like a book with a slower pace. This definitely was not full of action or adventure or the intense drama that usually attracts me to books. It did however have rich characters and setting. I found it interesting to read about a young Chinese man who is living in Japan to recuperate from an illness whie Japan is at war with China....to get a glimpse of both sides. He is surrounded by wonderful people while others in that same country...more
LemonLinda
This is a very touching and beautifully crafted story set in Japan during the late 30s when Japan is already at war with China. Stephen Chan is a young Chinese student and artist who travels to the family summer home in Tarumi, Japan to recover from tuberculosis. His year there brings healing in many ways - physically, emotionally, spiritually - as he learns many valuable life lessons. He leaves reluctantly as the war is ever escalating yet is forever connected with those who have become like fa...more
Marcy
Jul 18, 2008 Marcy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Marcy by: I had already read Women of the Silk.
Gail Tsukiyama is one of my favorite authors! Born to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father in San Francisco, Gail understands both cultures. In The Samurai's Garden, she portrays a Chinese student who develops Tuberculosis and spends a year in Tarumi, Japan, in his grandfather's summer house in order to recuperate. The war between Japan and China begins. Not only does Stephen recuperate in Tarumi, but he learns the meaning of life, death, peace, friendship, and love. I cried many times through...more
Kate Nothem
A delicate masterpiece. Gail Tsukiyama expertly weaves a tale encompassing human emotion including loneliness, love, understanding and uncertainty. In the midst of war, Stephan, Matsu and Sachi compel readers to think about what is truly important in life. The beautiful backdrop of Tarumi, Japan and Matsu's garden create a setting in which one longs to escape. A book for the ages, one that definitely cannot be missed.
Cindy
Cannot stop thinking about this book. I like Booklist's comment,"An extraordinarily graceful and moving novel about goodness and beauty." Wonderful and likable characters, beautiful portrayals of settings, and symbolic meaning permiating the book (Yin/Yang, Death and illness/life and healing, earth/water/wood/fire/metal.
Peter Cobb
I loved the nuance and the poignancy of this book about the coming of age of a young Chinese man who finds himself in a village of Japan during a war between the two countries. The war becomes an almost incidental but still compelling backdrop to a novel that celebrates wisdom and compassion and courage in the face of loss. This book is beautifully written and the style reinforces the almost delicate tone of the story. It succeeds both in taking the reader to another place and time and simultane...more
Lorie
I was haunted by this book. It drew me in and I lived it for days. The simplicity in which it was written was astounding to me. And yet, there were so many layers of meaning. Great writing, a joy to read.
Norma Christensen
I'm going to give this book three stars, however if I read it again, I will probably give it four.
I didn't get into this book at first and I think it may have been so gentle and tender, that I didn't recognize it's beauty at first. As I got further into the book, I decided it was very well written, and I became more captured by its essence.
One passage that I would like to mention:
"The things you remember about a person when they're gone are funny. No two people will feel the same way, though usu...more
Nicole
This book is the perfect example of why I love PBT. I am not a huge fan of Asian literature. I have read some books and generally enjoy them, but rarely do I pick one up without a firm push. I am extremely glad that PBT pushed me this month to read the beautifully written The Samurai's Garden.

Stephen is a young, attractive man living and attending college in Hong Kong in the late 1930's when he is diagnosed with tuberculosis. His family decides he must leave his college and home to travel to the...more
Tocotin
Bad, sentimental, insipid book about a young Chinese man from a wealthy Hong Kong family who is sent to a small village in Japan (why?) to convalesce from TB (?), only to discover a leper colony (named Yamaguchi lol) up in the mountains. The Japanese are conquering China, but the young man Stephen who loves to call himself Stephen-san (which he shouldn't do when speaking about himself) doesn't really care either for his country, his friends, or his family. Neither does he care about his illness,...more
Rita Yu
Some people really hate to see much information about this novel in advance, especiall the ending, so I just add some my personal feeling about this book.
Unlike most novels, there's not any much exciting unfact plot to intentionally catch readers attention, but there's a magic power makes me keep reading, to feel them, to touch them. So if you are tried with stressful life or fickle people, and you really hate the unfact setting and polt of novels, which makes you feel even sick, "The Samurai'...more
Katie Wirth
‘The Samurai’s Garden’ was written by Gail Tsukiyama, who is the bestselling author of six novels; she was born to a Japanese father and a Chinese mother in San Francisco. She has written other books such as ‘Women of the Silk’, ‘Night of many dreams’, and ‘The Street of a thousand blossoms’.


This book is so sweet! It is based in the 1930’s during WWII, and written from the Main characters point of view. The main Character, Stephen is a twenty year old boy, although he is from Hong Kong he came t...more
Carl Brush
Gail Tsukiyama is a local writer of some note (dividing time between Napa and El Cerrito, a graduate of SF State.), and I’d never heard of her. Shame and pleasure. A shame to wait this long to discover her, a pleasure to find her at last.

The Samurai’s Garden goes this way:

It’s 1937. Sixteen-year-old boy, Stephen, sickly and tubercular, travels from his mother’s house in Hong Kong to Kobe, Japan, where his father (also Chinese) has a business. His parents believe the drier climate might help h...more
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nice book 5 29 Jul 08, 2014 11:11AM  
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Born to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father in San Francisco, Gail Tsukiyama now lives in El Cerrito, California. Her novels include Women of the Silk (1991), The Samurai's Garden (1995), Night of Many Dreams (1998), The Language of Threads (1999), Dreaming Water (2002), and The Street of a Thousand Blossoms (2007).
More about Gail Tsukiyama...
Women of the Silk The Street of a Thousand Blossoms The Language of Threads A Hundred Flowers Night of Many Dreams

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“Sometimes you can’t let go of the past without facing it again.” 217 likes
“Beauty exists where you least expect to find it.” 28 likes
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