Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Boy Called H: A Childhood in Wartime Japan” as Want to Read:
A Boy Called H: A Childhood in Wartime Japan
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Boy Called H: A Childhood in Wartime Japan

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  17 reviews
This is the fascinating true story of a Japanese boy's growing disillusionment with the conduct of a patriotic war.

Boy H's father was a tailor, his mother a tambourine-banging Christian in a country of very few Christians. His childhood unfolded in the 1930s, when militarism was steadily strengthening its grip on Japan; it ended when the nation lay in ruins. What set H apa
Paperback, 528 pages
Published February 14th 2003 by Kodansha (first published January 2000)
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 A Boy Called H, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Boy Called H

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  106 ratings  ·  17 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Boy Called H: A Childhood in Wartime Japan
Dec 19, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: japan
Well, here we go with a Japan shelf, in preparation for 2018's Japan project. This one's rec'd by the esteemed Maru, who has more to say about Japanese books here. ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
There are certain books a person must read about WWII, and I think this is one of them. It is about a boy growing up in Kobe and the war going on around him. The boy, Hajime, is unusually perceptive and his father is also very wise. His parents (especially his mother) are Christians. Hajime is good at art and ended up becoming an artist and writer.

I looked at Kappa Senoh's biography on google and his real name is indeed Hajime Senoh. I don't personally believe that this book is strictly autobiog
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
One of the best books I have ever read. It provides a highly descriptive and personal account of growing up in Kobe during WW2. The author covers day to day details of his life as a student in a world that was becoming more difficult to live in by the day. Food shortages, brutal treatment by teachers, work in the factories and H's growing sense of disillusionment with those who were promoting the wartime propaganda are vividly portrayed. H also shows his own transformation from a young boy to hi ...more
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have read many books about Jews and their suffering during WWII, but I have never read anything about the Japanese psche and their lives during the war. An American friend of mine (from our Geneva days) is married to a Japanese pastor. They have now retired to live in Japan. Her husband knew the father of H (the father, however, was a pastor, and not the tailor portrayed in the book). Gloria recommended the book and has seen the movie in Japan. What is amazing is that the Japanese really liked ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature



May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this 500 plus page book very much - enjoyed the actual reading. It has short chapters and most are interesting and it reveals a lot about life in the years just before and during WW II. The author was born in Kobe in 1930 and the story/memoir was written many years later so I wonder if the sentiments are truly those of a young boy, but his personality remains consistent throughout. He grew up in an unusual home - both parents were Christians and his father was an amazingly gent ...more
An autobiographical novel- a hefty one, too. Slow starting with a bit too much detail about his young childhood. As he gets to high school age & war begins to approach it gets a lot better- much more focused and interesting. The last half was really good except for the final chapter or two but maybe I was just really tired trying to finish in time for f2f discussion. This was an awfully BIG book to have to read quickly. I give it a 5 for style and an 8 for the better bit of content. Made me thi ...more
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: compelling
This is a book I would recommend to mostly everyone for its readability and its story. I do tend to like young boy narrators, and I thought this story was so relevant and so true that I couldn't help but like it.

After reading this, I've decided to change how I've been rating books. I've mostly only been giving 5 stars to books I would call "favorites" or books that changed me, or books that I find personally beautiful. But since I didn't want to just say "I really liked it" = 4 stars, I decided
Apr 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
In brief, this book is amazing. Somewhat unbelievably I was put onto it by one of those 'celebs summer reads' articles in one of the sunday papers. Gordon Ramsay recommended it. I find Japan pretty fascinating; its about as close as you can get to an alien world, so different are their customs and beliefs from those in the west. This book is a window on time in from 1937-1946ish and is exceptionally well written. Insightful, funny and very touching it brilliantly illustrates how people in Japan ...more
Linda Stenberg
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent story. The boy comes from an unconventional Japanese family and thus he has unconventional thoughts. I love when he tells the story that his mother, as a Christian, would run around telling the neighbours that she loved them. You have to think of how out of place this would have been in Japan in the 1930s. If you want a good story to read, made even better because it's based on his real life, this is it. ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Insightful look into this era and culture. It helped me better understand my mom who went through many of the same experiences as a child in wartime Japan. Not really an exciting read but interesting and perceptive.
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A truly information and fascinating book; a look into the war that I had never considered; the life of a Japanese child, growing up under the Japanese flag in WWII. A definite must read!
This book, while translated from the original Japanese, reads fluently in an excellent English prose.
Megan Winkler
Jun 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This one is special. It's the WWII Japanese experience. Read it. Seriously. It's profound ...more
Jun 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
A look at day to day life of a school boy during war, told through short-story-like chapters. Very good!
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A good read - we must remember what happens to people in the actual war torn countries....they are not the enemy...they are just ordinary people caught in horrible situations.
Ross-Barry Finlayson.
Sep 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Has just been made into a movie. Well worth the time to read.
rated it really liked it
Apr 04, 2012
rated it liked it
Jul 21, 2016
Dr. Nose
rated it it was amazing
Apr 18, 2009
rated it it was amazing
Jan 14, 2012
rated it really liked it
Nov 24, 2013
Sonya Horbelt
rated it really liked it
Nov 11, 2017
Elizaveta Weinberg
rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2017
Antoine Chevais
rated it it was amazing
Dec 19, 2016
R.S. Noel
rated it it was amazing
Aug 07, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Jul 25, 2012
rated it it was amazing
Aug 30, 2019
Jennifer Hathaway
rated it really liked it
Dec 31, 2014
rated it really liked it
Dec 17, 2018
Kozue Iwa
rated it it was amazing
May 10, 2021
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
  • The Elements of Style
  • The Paradox of American Power: Why the World's Only Superpower Can't Go It Alone
  • The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (Revised and Updated Edition)
  • The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West
  • The Politics of United States Foreign Policy
  • Chinese Lessons: Five Classmates and the Story of the New China
  • Blades of the Night (The Severance Trilogy Book 1)
  • The Three Musketeers (The D'Artagnan Romances, #1)
  • The Emperor's New Clothes
  • Oliver Twist
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • White Fang
  • Robinson Crusoe (Robinson Crusoe #1)
  • The Invisible Man
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Great Expectations
See similar books…

Related Articles

It's June, which means it's time to celebrate Pride month in honor of the LGBTQ+ community! This year, we wanted to highlight the...
265 likes · 56 comments