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Storm Rider

3.03 of 5 stars 3.03  ·  rating details  ·  30 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Hikotaro is thirteen years old and an orphan, left to a life of adventure at sea. When the merchant vessel he sails on is caught in a violent storm on the Pacific, an American ship comes to the rescue and takes the young boy to San Francisco. With trepidation and hope, the boy-now dubbed Hikozo- accepts his new country.

Hikozo soon dreams of returning to his village, but a
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 3rd 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2004)
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Such a disappointment! It plodded along, following a young man who never feels anything but a vague homesickness. Surely there's a point in a young man's life where he'd think "Fuck this shit, I'm going to try and have some fun"?

It's also clumsy. The narrative is often interrupted by new shipwrecked Japanese sailors and their entire life stories. Yawn. On page 305 we're told that "Two days later" reports reached our hero of leading merchants in Kyoto being attacked; their heads were severed and
Storm Rider is primarily a story about a young Japanese castaway rescued by American sailors trying to get back to his homeland. Hikotaro, who became Hikozo, and later Joseph Heco becomes a successful interpreter for various commercial enterprises and the US government during the period when Japan was opening itself to western trade again in the 1850's. Even though Hikozo is able to return to his homeland in his heart he is knows that his fellow countrymen will always be considered a criminal fo ...more
A ship is lost at sea during the storm and Japanese sailors rescued by an American ship and and taken San Francisco. Story of their quest to return to Japan. Hizoko's story was interesting, but I think it got a bit bogged down with all the other castaways he met along the way. Learned a lot about Japanese history (pre-restoration and during) and culture, engagement with the west etc. and it was interesting, but for someone who didn't know much about that era, it was a bit difficult. The book is ...more
Phillip McCollum
"Storm Rider" attempts to semi-fictionalize the true story behind Hikotaro (aka Joseph Heco), a thirteen-year-old boy living in 1850 Japan. His father died when he was an infant and his mother passed away a few months before his thirteenth birthday. Finding himself without obligation or purpose, Hikotaro took up sailing like his merchant stepfather and became lost at sea. He was saved by a passing American trader ship, propelling him toward a life straddling two very different cultures during a ...more
Excellent historical drama based on the lives of Japanese sailors who were shipwrecked in the days when Japan was closed to the west (except for small Dutch or Chinese trading zones.) Such sailors who were rescued by foreign vessels and taken to China or United States or elsewhere were often barred from returning to Japan, a society closed to the outside world. Those who did return could not have converted to Christianity or other non-Buddhist/non-Shinto religions.

Follows the life of one sailor
A fascinating book about Japan in the mid-1800s prior to their opening to the rest of the world. This book describes the experiences of a sailor set adrift in the Pacific Ocean; he was not allowed back into Japan for many years. He lived in the United States for a while and met three presidents, including Lincoln. The book is a bit of a slow read in parts, but still very interesting.
Enjoyable. It is a very easy read in English, which helps. Hikozo is a character that is easy to like. You see him leave him home and be forced to grow up between cultures. Eventually, both cultures deny him, and he discovers that his is something new. He is not pure Japan, but neither is he American. He cannot escape that he is something new.
This book looked like it had potential, or at least the story summary sounded interesting. Unfortunately, it ended up being rather dull and repetitive, mainly because of the writing style. Most of the book felt like a series of factual statements, like "this happened. another thing happened." and so on.
Great book - a wonderful window into the social turmoil of Japan's opening to the West. A great, meandering exploration of the sense of "homelessness" associated with living between two cultures experienced as a sort of "castaway" - adrift upon various social and cultural currents.
I read this book for both The Expanding Horizons Challenge and The TBR Challenge.

Here are the links for my review: (Votes appreciated)


My blog: So Many Precious Books, So Little time

Steven Hartman
Not as enticing as I remember when I read it the first time.
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Prize winning Japanese writer. Akira Yoshimura was the president of the Japanese writers union and a PEN member. He published over 20 novels, of which in particular On Parole and Shipwrecks are internationally known and have been translated into several languages. In 1984 he received the Yomiuri Prize for his novel Hagoku (破獄,engl. prison break) based on the true story of Yoshie Shiratori.
More about Akira Yoshimura...

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