Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Harp of Burma” as Want to Read:
Harp of Burma
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Harp of Burma

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  432 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Harp of Burma is Japan's haunting answer to Germany's well-known requiem for the First World War, All Quiet on the Western Front.

Winner of the prestigious Mainichi Shuppan Bunkasho prize, and the subject of an acclaimed film by Ichikawa Kon, Harp of Burma portrays a company of Japanese troops who are losing a desperate campaign against British forces in the tropical jungle
Paperback, 132 pages
Published December 15th 1989 by Tuttle Publishing (first published April 17th 1959)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Harp of Burma, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Harp of Burma

Shōgun by James ClavellMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenTokyo Vice by Jake AdelsteinNorwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Best Books About Japan
49th out of 304 books — 178 voters
The Glass Palace by Amitav GhoshFrom the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo ThweThe Perfect Hostage by Justin WintleBurmese Days by George OrwellThe River of Lost Footsteps by Thant Myint-U
39th out of 50 books — 38 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 686)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Matt S
Jan 09, 2008 Matt S rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The novel, harp of burma by Michio Takeyama, was about the lives of a group of musical Japanese soldiers who were P.O.Ws in Burma after WWII ended. They face many challenges, especially when they do not know the whereabouts of a beloved soldier. Most of the book is about the soldiers trying to find out where he is, if he is even alive. Takeyama has also ritten, The Scars of War: Tokyo During World War II: Writings of Takeyama Michio. WWII is a common theme in his novels, and does have japanese h ...more
Michio Takeyama, author of Harp of Burma, was born in Osaka, Japan in 1903. He spent many of his childhood years in Seoul, Korea and later graduated from the German Literature Department of Tokyo Imperial University. After the great success of Harp of Burma, Michio gave up his career as a professor of German literature to focus on literature and literary criticism. Harp of Burma recounts the journey of a company of Japanese soldiers in Burma at the end of World War II. The men encounter many har ...more
Written by Michio Takeyama, Harp of Burma is a war novel taking place during World War II in Burma, which is now called Myanmar. Takeyama wrote the novel in 1946, and it was later translated into English in 1996. The novel demonstrates the significance of music in a soldier’s life. The Japanese soldiers who were known as the “singing company”, sang songs and played instruments to cheer themselves up during rough times, and also times of rejoice. The main character of the story, corporal Mizushim ...more
During the cruel and brutal time of World War II, soldiers from Japan would seek for redemption from the people they killed as they reach Burma. In reality, Japanese soldiers have kept a covenant in protecting their country at the cost of their life and wield hyper-lethal weapons that causes critical damage to their enemies. But throughout this novel, it seems as if guns were replaced with music. A soldier named Mizushima seeks to attain peace from the war by fighting with his harp.

As I progress
In WWII, one company of Japanese soldiers was called "The Singing Company" because their leader taught them to sing and play instruments, and that mitigated the horrors of war for them. When the war ended and they were taken prisoner in Burma, one of their number, Mishizuma, was sent on a mission to bring news of the war's end to another entrenched company of Japanese in Burma. He never returned, though throughout their imprisonment, the Singing Company kept getting reminders of him--a monk who ...more
Anirudh Sengupta
The first thing I noted was that, it was different from any other book I had read before. The way the author has written this book although is certainly unique, it isn’t very captivating.
The story is about a company of Japanese soldiers during the Second World War who are famous for their singing and how their singing helped them to survive. Now that is not a very realistic theme. A group of soldiers fighting in the rough terrain of Myanmar singing to deceive Indian and British soldiers.
The stor
Archan Chumsena
Although the novel kept me busy for some time, but it might not have been good writing that kept me reading it. I carried on reading this book believing that it might get better, something deeper in this story. I was sadly disappointed after I finished the book spammed by; “music is the key to keeping together and getting through tough times. The “tough times” in the book was not described with too much details and took knowledge of how bad WWII was in order for me to imagine the setting of the ...more
David B
At the end of WWII, Corporal Mizushima, the pride of his unit, accepts an assignment to convince another Japanese unit to surrender to British forces. Mizushima's unit goes to a POW camp and spends its days tormented by the fate of their missing comrade, who had become something of a symbol of good luck and hope for them. About this time, they also become aware of a travelling Burmese monk who often wanders through the area and bears a striking resemblance to...could it be? I don't want to revea ...more
Edgar Oo
The novel "Harp of Burma" written by Michio Takeyama is quite an interesting book to read. Mizushima, a soldier for the Japanese travels with the other soldiers to Burma. This book takes place during the times of the World War II. This story is about Mizushima, who is also a Harp player, goes around Burma with wars taking place and trying to stop the war by playing his harp.

For me, this book is made for 5th graders because of very easy reading, with a very fictional plot to understand. This boo
A beautifully writen story about a company of Japanese soldiers in Burma at the close of WWII. To keep their morale high, they sang and played insturments, and the main insturment was a homemade harp. It is a charming story of bravery and companionship, and also a comment on the ugliness of war. I highly recommend it for its charming story and beautifully written prose.
Ted D
A wonderful book about the power of faith, the meaning of "home", the importance of friendship and about forgiveness and redemption.
Set in the final months of the second world war, Corporal Mizushima is sent on an important scouting mission for his platoon. Known for his playing of patriotic music on his harp, his very presence raises the spirits of his comrades. He effectively disappears, believed dead by his friends.
Beautifully translated from Japanese, this book gripped me from the start...
Jan 09, 2008 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everybody
Shelves: shelf-one
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew V
Harp of Burma, written by Michio Takeyama, was published in 1946. Michio lived the beginning of his life in Korea, and later moved to Japan. His main interests were German literature and essays. He was also a professor at university in Tokyo. Takeyama’s novel won him the Mainchi Shuppan Bunkasho, which kicked off his stardom. Harp of Burma depicts a company of Japanese soldiers during World War Two. This book tells the story of these brave men as they travel through the country of Burma.
The over
Christian L
Harp of Burma was written by Michio Takeyama. Michio has also written other novels, one example is Scars. The setting of Harp of Burma takes place in Burma. The novel starts out with the Japanese surrendering, but there are still some Japanese that are still fighting. A Japanese solider, Mizushima was given a mission to perused the Japanese soldier on a mountain to surrender. The story counties and we as the reader do not know what happen to Mizushima, but we here about the daily activities of t ...more
Sherean Nur
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I just concluded reading the book Harp of Burma by Michio Takeyama. Michio Takeyama is a distinguished Japenese writer who specializes in novels that express his views on politics and war. Harp of Burma is his most praised novel and is set during World War II. The book follows the journey of the Japanese "Singing Company", a unique group of soliders and friends. The reader gets a good perspective at how surprising it must have been for the Japanese to hear of their country's surrender and be ta ...more
A Don
The book I most recently read was Harp of Burma, a Japanese war novel written by Michio Takeyama. The author grew up in a Japanese colony in present day Korea, where he won the ambitious Mainchi Shuppan Bunkasho award for this particular novel. Harp of Burma takes the reader to Burma towards the end of the British-Japanese struggle and follows a particular company known for their singing into prisoner of war camps. But this company had an unusual problem where their beloved hero, Mizushima, is ...more
Jessica H
Harp of Burma was written by Michio Takeyama. Michio Takeyama mostly writes about war and politics. This particular was novel was published in 1946, and won Michio an award which expanded his fame. Harp of Burma takes place in Burma during World War II. It follows the lives of Japanese soldiers who bravely fight, only to lose their greatest leader and become POW's. The soldiers overcome their hardships in this witty war novel.
I thought that this war novel was unlike any I have read before.
Caroline S.
Jan 09, 2008 Caroline S. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of war novels
Shelves: books
Harp of Burma, written by Michio Takeyama, is the story of a troop of Japanese soldiers during the Second World War The soldiers love to sing and do so quite often. When the Japanese surrender, the soldiers are put in a POW camp. They are constantly worried about one of their missing comrades, and they sing to keep their moral up. Michio Takeyama has also written Scars, Showa no Seishin-Shi, and Ningen ni Tsuite.
This book was definitely entertaining with its sudden twists and creative plots. I
The novel, Harp of Burma, was written by Michio Takeyama, a notable scholar of German literature. Takeyama was born in 1903 and spent much of his youth in Korea and later a Japanese colony. The story, Harp of Burma, is based on a company of Japanese soldiers who love to sing. The book is set just after World War II ends and discusses how the characters react to becoming prisoners of war. The main character, Mizushima, was a part of the "singing company" and the book discusses how he became sepa ...more
Chris K
Harp of Burma is one of Michio Takeyama best novels. Other writings he has written include Showa no Seishin-shi and the Jiyu. Takeyama was born in July 21, 1899 in Osaka, Japan. He was inspired to write this book after he saw his Tokyo destroyed by air raids. This book is a world known novel and there has been a movie based off the novel. In this novel, a singing company in WW2 losses one of its favorite members. After being taken as POW’s they lose hope that their comrade, Mizushima will return ...more
Jan 09, 2008 Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: War-book-lovers
Harp of Burma by Michio Takeyama follows the adventures of a Japanese company in WWII. The soldiers of this company use music to pull them through hardships and celebrate their few triumphs. The corporal, Mizushima Yasuhiko, accompanies the singing company on his harp. He is a young, serious soldier that eventually realizes his longing for the natural, spiritual life of the Burmese natives. When the company is finally captured and informed of Japan’s loss, they are taken to a POW camp. There, M ...more
Matt G
Jan 10, 2008 Matt G rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 13+, anyone who enjoys historical fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2008 Madison rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like war novels
Harp of Burma Review
By: Madison Prestipino

Harp of Burma is a novel written by Michio Takeyama. Michio is a Japanese writer who was born in Osaka. He graduated from Tokyo Imperial University’s Department of German Literature. Some novels he has written include, Germany, a new Dark Age, and The Japanese and Beauty. After World War II, Michio became famous for his novel, Harp of Burma. It is set during the time of World War II, and is narrated through the eyes of one of the many Japanese soldiers.
Andrew S.
Harp of Burma was written by Michio Takeyama. Takeyama was a professor of German, and translated several German works into Japanese. He was born in 1903 in Japan. Takeyama wrote one other novel in his lifetime, Scars. Harp of Burma is about a group if Japanese soldiers fighting in Burma during WWII. It describes this group's experience in the war, their time in a POW camp, and one man's jounrey of personal discovery.
Harp of Burma is an excellent book with many good qualities. However, a few s
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dina R
Jan 09, 2008 Dina R rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
I just finished reading Harp of Burma by Michio Takeyama. Michio Takeyama (1903-1984)was a Japanese writer and German scholar. This book recounted a tale of a Japanese singing company who fight in War World Two. The company goes through a lot on their journey from fighting for their lives to trying to make it back to their home.

What I found interesting was the language; Michio has his own very distinct style of writing and I liked it. I thought the imagery in the book was wonderful. The symboli
Ian C
Jan 09, 2008 Ian C rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Teenagers or older
Recommended to Ian by: Mr. MacConnell
Shelves: finished-reading
In a time named World War II, one author manages to distinguish himself: Michio Takeyama. Born in Osaka, he moved around far eastern asia frequently with his father. One may know Michio Takeyama from writing such books as Scars and On Human Beings. However, the novel which made Takeyama famous was entitled Harp of Burma. Harp of Burma is about a Japanese company during WWII, whom seperate themselves from others by singing. However they all become distraugt when the fate of one of their own is un ...more
Caroline J
"Harp of Burma" by Michio Takeyama was a very interesting and enlightening novel. Takeyama was born July 21st, 1899 in Osaka, Japan. He created a literary magazine, and translated many classic literature works of his time. The story "Harp of Burma" is the heart wrenching tale of a company fighting in World War I. The company is fondly named, "The Singing Company" because of their cheerful attitude and tendency to break out in song. The company travels through Burma, first to fight, then as priso ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Fires on the Plain
  • The Secret History of the Lord of Musashi & Arrowroot
  • The Wild Geese
  • Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century
  • The River Ki
  • A Dark Night's Passing (Japan's Modern Writers)
  • The Broken Commandment
  • Five Modern No Plays
  • And Then
  • Rivalry: A Geisha's Tale
  • The Waiting Years
  • From the Fatherland with Love
  • Rashomon and Other Stories
  • Autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa
  • The Tale of the Heike
  • Self Portraits: Tales from the Life of Japan's Great Decadent Romantic

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“I seemed to be walking on and on forever through a peaceful, languid garden of rice paddies. This was no longer the territory of savages, but of an ancient and high civilization. Here and there farmers were plowing their fields, using water buffaloes. As a buffalo started to move, snowy herons would fly down and perch on its back and horns. But they flew away again in fright whenever a buffalo reached the edge of the field the farmer turned his plow.
Once, as I was walking along, a moist wind began to blow and the sky quickly filled with black clouds. Herons were tossing in the wind like downy feathers. Soon the rain came. Rainfall in Burma is violent. Before I knew it, I was shut in by a thick spray. I could hardly breathe--I felt as if I were swimming.
After a while the rain stopped and the sky cleared. All at once the landscape brightened and a vast rainbow hung across the sky. The mist was gone, as if a curtain had been lifted. And there, under the rainbow, the farmers were singing and plowing again. ”
More quotes…