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Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven, Japan, 1858 (The Royal Diaries)

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,718 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Princess Kazunomiya, half-sister of the Emperor of Japan, relates in her diary and in poems the confusing events occurring in the Imperial Palace in 1858, including political and romantic intrigue.
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published September 2004 by Scholastic
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17th out of 21 books — 243 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 06, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it
As a princess of Japan in the year 1858, twelve-year-old Kazunomiya lives a life of privilege and luxury. But it is one in which she is a virtual prisoner, kept sheltered behind palace walls, only able to leave for the occasional visit to a temple or shrine. But her predictable life is changing. Japan has kept itself isolated for generations, but now foreigners are clamoring to be allowed in, and given trading rights. And Kazunomiya finds her own future in question, when she learns that her betr ...more
What I learned from this book is that editors are WAY overpaid. This book is full of both factual and spelling errors. I was going to recommend it to my students since it is related to the big TV drama this year, "Atsuhime," but they would not be able to recognize the setting as Japan. I like the other books in this series, so this is a disappointment.
Lady Knight
This was a great book! Definately a front runner for my favorite "Royal Diaries" book. Kathryn Lasky covered all of the bases here: Romance, Friendship, Court Intrigue, Political Manoevering, and so so much more! I was very impressed with the level of complexity presented in this novel, especially since it is so short. Bravo!

Kazunomiya was born in the year of the Fire Horse, a very unlucky event for a girl. So her birthdate was changed to one year earlier to make her birthdate fall in a year tha
Kelsey Hanson
Dec 12, 2015 Kelsey Hanson rated it it was ok
This one was kinda on the depressing side as far as the Royal Diaries go. This focuses on Princess Kazunomiya's life at court and being torn between duty and her own desires. The descriptions of Japanese culture during this time period was very interesting, but I do wish that the other included a bit more detail about the significance of some of the ceremonies either in the actual diary or the historical notes. Particularly the teeth blackening ceremony.
Carrie Slager
Feb 14, 2014 Carrie Slager rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-borrowed
Maybe it was the fact that I really have no interest in Japan or Japanese history in general or maybe it was the book itself, but I did not really enjoy Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t as good as some of the other books in The Royal Diaries.

Kazunomiya was a pretty bland character who just did not appeal to me. Although it is likely how the real woman behaved, for someone born in the year of the Fire Horse and supposedly was a fighter, she was not very proactive. I
Aug 06, 2008 Tiffany rated it really liked it
this is a cool book. It shows how venomous court life could be, and how you had to fight for what you believed in. Court life wasn't just about pretty dresses and doing whatever you wanted to do. Most of the time, it was about power and some people had to do bad things to get it.
Sarah Crawford
Feb 03, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it
This book is about Kazunomiya, a young girl in Imperial Japan living at the end of the samurai era. She feels that she is basically a prisoner, her life controlled by others for their own purposes. She has been engaged to someone and had no input into that. She is a political pawn to be used by others and also has no say over that, either.

It's a novel that tells her personal story but at the same time gives the reader an excellent view into Japan at the end of the samurai period and the beginnin
Angelique Sapone
Oct 21, 2009 Angelique Sapone rated it it was amazing
COMPLETELY interesting book in 19th Century Japan. Not just the food they ate, but the traditions! So neat. Royal Japanese women are mean and petty by the way.
Apr 04, 2012 Meadow rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book. The descriptions of her palace are great and the cover art is gourgeous.

This series have been one of my all-time favorites.
Oct 03, 2014 Renee rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book I found to be a fairly accurate, believable, and interesting historical fiction read that I wanted to keep reading until the end; The time set of ancient Japan has always fascinated me.
The book clearly tells the truth of the ancient Japanese court: the lies, treacheries, and conquests that went on secretly and openly. Kazunomiya's life in the Japanese court is no different.
This story is based on a true story of a real Kazunomiys, explained in the back of the book, which I found very i
Helena Oh
Apr 29, 2015 Helena Oh rated it it was ok
Kazunomiya, along with her royal family, is thought to be descended from the goddess of the sun, and she lives an extremely sheltered life. However, when a Japanese general signs a treaty with the men from America, uncertainty and turmoil erupt in the kingdom. But the external threats do not compare to the tangled intrigue, romance, and politics that dominate the imperial palace, as wives and queens plot to destroy Kazunomiya and her mother. She has her Prince.. And she doesn't want them to forc ...more
"They can try and make me their puppet. They can blacken my teeth. They can change my birthday, but deep inside of me nothing will change. My real birthday will always be my birthday. So, you see, no matter how they cut me up to serve their purposes, within me there shall always remain a little spark, a small piece that is my essence and cannot be destroyed no matter what."

Kazunomiya, along with her royal family, is thought to be a divinity, descended from the goddess of the sun, and she lives a
Ana Mardoll
Feb 24, 2011 Ana Mardoll rated it really liked it
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Kazunomiya, Prisoner of Heaven / 0-439-16485-0

In a sense, most of the princesses in the Princess Diary series are prisoners in one form or other, as they are maneuvered in and out of political marriages and, in some cases (such as young Elizabeth of the Tudors) as they are maneuvered in and out of actual prisons. Kazunomiya herself dwells in a prison, albeit a lovely gilded one.

The year is 1858, and Japan is in a turmoil as investors from America have arrived on their shores and have threatened
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Maria
Cover Story: A Dream of Spring
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Word Crimes
Bonus Factors: Poetry, Sweets, God Complex, Japanese History
Relationship Status: Sassy Gay Friend

Read the full book report here.
Nov 10, 2015 Shirleon rated it it was amazing
I don't know much about Japanese history or culture at all, just to start off with. So this was a very interesting read.

I hadn't known the people treated their royal families with such high regard. I mean, I had heard/learned in class that they were seen as gods, yes, but to be treated more like they just didn't exist was crazy. It seemed to me that they really had no power; that was all the General.

I also had no idea that teeth blackening was a thing. Ever. I had to look it up, but it's true! J
Apr 29, 2010 Kristina rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes historical fiction
I really like this book because it gives you a strong sense of the characters feelings. This book is about a girl,Kazunomiya, who was born on a bad luck day,fire horse. Kazunomiya's birthday is changed because she becomes the new emporer's wife. The Emporer requires her to change her birthdate so she is the same age as the Emporer. They belive the birthdate change will make the blood line stonger. An important event that occurred in the book was when Kazunomiya's favorite aunt died. This aunt wa ...more
Gigi Anderson
Jul 13, 2014 Gigi Anderson rated it it was amazing
I have always loved Japan and this book is a great representation of it. Sadly she really was a prisoner and this is made me wanna cry because I think if she had been free she would have made a great ruler. She is strong, defiant and did the best with her lot in life. The more I saw how amazing she was the sadder I became.
Jun 11, 2014 Kellee rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the voice of this book and the poetry that was included. This is written for a younger audience but I thought it was great. I will absolutely recommend it to my nieces. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Jan 25, 2009 earthy rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical, juvenile
Another fascinating historical lady whose real life isn't given nearly the attention to detail it deserves in this book. The diary format works a little better here than in other Royal Princess Diary books, but it's still occasionally awkward and riddled with the same amount of editorial and proofing errors. And like the other stories in the series, we're only given a very quick look at Kazunomiya's life before the book is over and an inadequate historical note rushes through the rest of her adv ...more
Not the best thing Kathryn Lasky has ever written, by a long chalk. But good for detail of the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate...
Nov 03, 2015 Lew rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I leaned something from this book, and it is that ladies in japan used to blacken their teeth.
Feb 02, 2015 Maggie rated it really liked it
A great R.D book, very different from the other anglo-saxon style of the rest of the princesses.
Jan 11, 2010 Ren rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Royal Diaries fans, orient lovers, teen girls.
I bought and read this early during Junior High, because I was so highly attracted to the Japanese Culture. It is a very simple read, as are all of the Royal Diaries, and the entires paint vivid pictures in your mind. Sometimes you forget at all that you are reading diary entries at all. It was a good read, with good character development but not very challenging; I would rate the reading level from 4th to 7th. However, all of the Royal Diaries pleased me greatly, even now as a college student, ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Kelly rated it really liked it
A lovely story based on the life of a real Japanese Princess.
Sep 02, 2013 Emmah rated it it was ok
This book to me as a child was boring, now reading it at least 8 years later it is still probably the most boring book published by the series. I have never been fond of Asian history (no I'm not being racist, I could just never get into their history or understand it, iunno maybe it's just me) so this book before I opened it was already a drag. But as a child I remember enjoying this book a whole lot than I did this time around re-reading it. A good story I guess, but it takes interest and unde ...more
Hamsa Damouk
Jun 06, 2015 Hamsa Damouk rated it it was amazing
"too powerful for men." wow.
Mariah H
Nov 29, 2014 Mariah H rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
I like diary's.
It was an interesting book, but I was rather bored through a lot of it. I mean it sounded like a bad love triangle for teenagers and the worst part is that it's true.
The teeth-blackening and never cutting hair unless the husband dies is just weird. I cringed when I read about it, but I was curious enough to Google it and now I'm completely disturbed. I mean, did they do that to hide imperfections and rotting? And/or to make the face appear even whiter? Doesn't make much sense to me, SMH. Yuck.
Feb 01, 2014 Ashleigh rated it really liked it
4.5 Spunky!
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Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her latest book, Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 15: The War of the Ember, was released on November 1, 2008. Guardians of Gahoo ...more
More about Kathryn Lasky...

Other Books in the Series

The Royal Diaries (1 - 10 of 20 books)
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  • Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile - 57 B.C. (Royal Diaries #2)
  • Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain, 1466 (Royal Diaries #3)
  • Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles, Austria - France, 1769 (Royal Diaries #4)
  • Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess, Russia, 1914 (Royal Diaries #5)
  • Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa, 1595 (Royal Diaries #6)
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  • Lady of Ch'iao Kuo: Red Bird of the South, Southern China, A.D. 531 (Royal Diaries #8)
  • Victoria: May Blossom of Britannia, England, 1829
  • Mary, Queen of Scots: Queen Without a Country, France, 1553

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