Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “So Far from the Bamboo Grove” as Want to Read:
So Far from the Bamboo Grove
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

So Far from the Bamboo Grove

(So Far from the Bamboo Grove #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,775 ratings  ·  370 reviews
Prequel to My Brother, My Sister, and I.

Though Japanese, eleven-year-old Yoko has lived with her family in northern Korea near the border with China all her life. But when the Second World War comes to an end, Japanese on the Korean peninsula are suddenly in terrible danger; the Korean people want control of their homeland and they want to punish the Japanese, who have o

Paperback, 183 pages
Published August 12th 2008 by HarperCollins (first published April 1st 1986)
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 So Far from the Bamboo Grove, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Mary Hollowell During WWII, Yoko, her mother, and her sister flee northeastern Korea and head for Seoul. They ride the rails and walk south on the tracks. Along the…moreDuring WWII, Yoko, her mother, and her sister flee northeastern Korea and head for Seoul. They ride the rails and walk south on the tracks. Along the way, Yoko is injured by a bomb, and they are forced to disguise themselves as communist soldiers.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Feb 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
Yoko Watkins gives us a fictionalized account of her family's escape from North Korea at the end of World War II. However, she narrowly limits the historical setting and plot and avoids the moral issues surrounding her family's presence in Korea in the first place. Her family was in Korea as part of the Japanese imperial drive to conquer of Korea, China, the Pacific and even the western US. They were driven by a race based state religion that saw the Japanese Emperor as being a god and the Japan ...more
This is the first time ever that I don't want to rate a book I have read - and this has nothing to do with the author's writing which I thought was very compelling. When I picked it up, I had no idea how controversial the novel had become over the years. For me it was just another book that caught my interest as I browsed our shelves. While reading, it didn't take long before I was in tears the first time - and decided then and there that the brutalities referred to in the book made it unsuitabl ...more
Michelle Kim
May 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
I would like to give zero stars if possible. This book is full of lies but Yoko Kawashima writes it like it's her autobiography. I can't believe that this was once recommended to American students. Japanese soldiers were the ones who abused Korean women, not the reverse. During the time period she stayed in North Korea, there were no communist soldiers yet. America had ordered Japanese soldiers to stay and keep the country in order (although they had already surrendered to them) until American s ...more
Kajal Patel
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it
So Far from the Bamboo Grove was spectacular! This memoir reminds me much of the story of Anne Frank because of both of their inner-self. If I were to be in Anne Frank's or Yoko Kawashima(the main character in So Far From The Bamboo Grove) and I was in the middle of World War II going on and I have to travel from one place to another, I would be with my family, but I wouldn't be in the same home I have lived, grew up, and created memories in; I would be in a place that was half-comfortable to me ...more
Sadye Chester
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My teacher in middle school, made this a required reading. Ever since reading the first page, it is one of my all time favorite books. It changed my life. Right before reading it my mother died of cancer when I was 12. I didn't know what cremation meant until I read this book. Although that isn't what this story is about, it meant a great deal to me. I love this book, one I will read over again in a heartbeat.
Mrs. Mengedoth
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love reading books that are based on true stories, and this one had me from the beginning. Yoko is a Japanese girl living in Korea during World War II. As the war is about to end, her family realizes they need to leave the country and get back to Japan. Her journey is remarkable! This novel allowed me to see life during the war from a young Japanese girl's persepective. Yoko is a character I will never forget.
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
i was looking at possible books for teachers to teach, and i came across this title, so i did what i always do when i'm unfamiliar with a title, i went to and looked at it's summary. much to my surprise, there were great reviews along with some really negative ones with real specific beefs. i'm finding that the beefs are pretty well founded....

this book wasn't bad, but if it's taught without a little history, the koreans look like total barbarians. it's unfortunate that at the end of
Downgrading my rating from 3.5 stars to 1 star. Upon reading, I thought this was historical fiction. But alas, it is just fiction. The military actions mentioned never took place. I feel misled by this book. If you want a researched historical fiction account of this time, When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park would be my recommendation.
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I originally read this book in middle school. The author lived in the next town over, so she came to my school and read the book to us. Later there was Q&A and it was a very memorable experience. Yoko even autographed copies of her book for us kids. This was a great book and it tought me about life in a different time and place.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This rainy fourth of july was actually the first time I read this children's classic. I found it a profoundly moving novel, and I would certainly recommend it to my students. It sheds a different light on our Japanese "enemies" during World War II, and it reminds us of the essential humanity of all people, which often gets lost and/or forgotten in the heat of battle.
Shirin Dc
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read it during my childhood and it was one of the most inspiring, meaningful books i read. The book is a true page-turner. Back then, I recommended reading it to everyone i knew!
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jolie Sukonik
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Yoko Kawashima Watkins’ fictionalized experience, So Far From the Bamboo Grove, is marked as one of the most raw and revealing stories I have ever been captivated with. As an autobiographical piece, the novel details her family’s fleeing from North Korea following WWII as they were only there as a part of the Japanese imperialistic tactics. This memoir parallels other WWII memoirs as it is organized in a way that shows the progression of the family’s life as they escape from North Korea and seek ...more
Satoshi Oota
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Since my mother's family was in Manchuria and afterwards China during World War 2, I've been familiar with some incidents described in this non-fiction novel. While she doesn't like to talk much about her experiences on the way back to her homeland, Japan, I occasionally learnt her segmented stories about the escape, which were definitely harsh experiences to a ten-year-old girl at that time.

But my mother was lucky. She had her father together all along their escape from China’s continent. But t
Having read When my name was Keoko, which was the Korean point of view on the Japanese occupation of Korea, I then picked up this book, "So far from the Bamboo Grove", the first in a two volume autobiographical novel series by Yoko Kawashima Watkins, a Japanese girl who grew up in Korea, the child of a member of the Japanese ruling class. When the war began to go badly for the Japanese, and the Korean Communist party/forces attack the Japanese colonialists, Yoko, her mother and sister leave and ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I gave this a read b/c I wanted to see why Koreans hate it so much. They go nuts over it b/c it portrays Japanese folks in a kind light while also showing some of the evil potential of Koreans taking out their anger on their previous controllers upon war's end.

Surely that happened to some degree, but Koreans will likely continue thinking that they were perfect angels upon liberation and every point after that.

The book bothers me because it is supposed to be autobiographical fiction, the "fiction
Taelor Threadgill
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The theme for this book is taking place around the time of the vietnam war. When Japan is under attack by Korean gorillas, Japanese families spring to action. 8 year old Yoko Kawshima is on the run for her birth Place, Japan. She is running with her mother and sister on voyage to safety. Yoko had long beutiful, black hair, as well as her mother and sister, before it became to dangerous to be traveling as women and girls. So they shaved it all off. Yoko is motivated to get to Japan and finally me ...more
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
What caused me to review this specific book was an article in the Japan Times on-line site, dated Jan. 18, 2007, and entitled Book Claims Koreans Raped Japanese. My review of that article is in my current events section on atrocities.

I wanted to see if what the people were objecting to was really there. The book is about Yuko's mother and older sister fleeing from North Korea, trying to get to the south and away from the Korean Communists.

Very early in the book Yuko and the others are treated al
Stephanie Ochoa
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is about a family who has to leave their home in Nanam, Korea to go to Seoul, Korea, because of the World War ll that Japan had just entered in 1942. The family are the main characters: Yoko, Ko, Hideyo, and their mother. People who aren't family but main characters in this book are: the Corporal Matsumura, the school's janitor, Mr.Naido, and the Korean Communist soldiers. There are some characters in the book that aren't main characters like: hideyo's friend's, and the spoiled school ...more
Sep 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
100% curious - would this book be so lauded in America today if it was written by a 2nd gen German-American immigrant who was the child of a German official fleeing Nazi-occupied France in the aftermath of WWII? Would the writer's description of scary US soldiers and angry French mobs attacking her family for no reason seem a little short-sighted and forgetful of history? I'm genuinely intrigued by the people who would denounce this book if it was written from a European perspective but sing pra ...more
Daniela Osorio
So Far from the Bamboo Groove is a good book about a family on a journey Their father is fighting in a war right now,and their brother.He is actually running from soldiers to get to Japan and find his family. his family are in Korea looking like boys to protect from being hurt or killed.While in Japan the 2 girls(yoko and sister) live in a train station and go to school,and while at school the kids at school make fun of them because they go to school looking all ugly.while there at school their ...more
Nov 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-reads
Based on the experiences of the author during
World War II, it is the story of two Japanese sisters and their mother escaping Korea and then trying to survive as paupers and eventually orphans in Japan.

What touched me most was when I gave it to my WW II veteran father to read. I thought he might find it interesting since he served in Japan as a Marine and later as a LDS missionary. I did not know/remember he had actually been in Kyoto. He remembers being told as a marine not to give any of the
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
(Historical, nonfiction 1986) This was recommended by the elementary school librarian where I repair books. There is so much I did NOT know about World War II! This story begins in Korea, just as Japan is bombed by the USA. At that time, Japan had control over Korea, and the Korean people revolt against that control. The story is written through the eyes of 11-year-old Yoko Kawashi. She, her older sister and her mother are forced to flee their home in Korea by the uprising, and make their way to ...more
Lizbeth Robles
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed So far from the bamboo grove. I thought it was really interesting and gave alot of details like if i was actually seeing what was happenig during world war II. The situation in the book was really harsh, because yoko(the main charachter of the book)only being 11 years old had to struggle with her honarble mother and honarble sister, to find food, shelter, and still had to be traveling to get to Seoul then to pusan when they were forsed to flee their contry. Then trying to find b ...more
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm currently reading this with my 6th grade students. They are enjoying it and are amazed that the central character, who is their age, is able to deal with the desperate situation in which she finds herself. Set in Korea and Japan at the very end of World War II, it gives Western students a glimpse of the war in Asia from the perspective of a young Japanese girl caught in the aftermath of the war. SHe and her family must make their way from Korea back to Japan where, once there, they find life ...more
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book and very inspirational, it teaches you that no matter how hard life gets you have to keep fighting. I adored the constant imagery throughout this book, it gives you a visual, and makes you feel as if you're in that exact moment. The story is heartbreaking but their desire to turn things around and make the situation better is what made this book so great.
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book is so powerful. The imagery is vivid, but some parts may be a bit hard for students. I do not think that is a reason to hold this book back from students though. The glimpse into history by a child their own age can really help a student connect with history. People are what make history interesting, not facts and dates.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a work of writing, I thought this was a beautiful and compelling story. That's completely aside from the allegations of inaccuracies, unfair demonization of Koreans, and so on. Looking at it on its own in isolation, which is all I'm really able to do, I got into it quite a bit.
Jan 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I don't really have a thing for historical books, but this one was okay, and I thought that it was pretty inspirational and depressing at times because all of the deaths really happened.
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
So Far From the Bamboo Grove tells the story of an 11 year old Japanese girl, Yoko Kawashima, who had lived in Nanam in North Korea all her life; in fact, she had never even seen her homeland Japan.

But now, towards the end of the war, Yoko, her mother and older sister Ko are warned by a friend, Corporal Matsumura, that things are not going well and they must try to return to Japan immediately. With Mr. Kawashima, a Japanese diplomat, away in Manchuria, China, and their 18 year old brother Hideyo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
New perspective 4 24 Feb 03, 2012 03:40PM  
  • When My Name Was Keoko
  • Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale
  • When the Rainbow Goddess Wept
  • Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp
  • War Games
  • The Other Half of Life: A Novel Based on the True Story of the MS St. Louis
  • Year of Impossible Goodbyes
  • Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture
  • The Terrorist
  • For Freedom: The Story of a French Spy
  • Epileptic 1 [L'Ascension du Haut Mal, 1-3]
  • The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey
  • Detour for Emmy
  • The Cartoon History of the Universe III: From the Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance
  • You Hear Me?: Poems and Writing by Teenage Boys
  • Stumptown Kid
  • Hapa Girl: A Memoir
  • The Facts Speak for Themselves
Yoko Kawashima Watkins was born in Japan in 1933. Her family lived in Manchuria, a region in northern china where her father was stationed as a Japanese government official. This region of China had been under Japanese control since 1931. The family later moved to Nanam in northern Korea, where her father was overseeing Japanese political interests. Japan had taken control of Korea in 1910. Althou ...more

Other books in the series

So Far from the Bamboo Grove (2 books)
  • My Brother, My Sister, and I
“When this book [So Far From The Bamboo Grove] was accepted for publication, a writer friend told Yoko that now she would be competing with other writers. Yoko said, No, she would not compete with anyone for anything. "I competed with life and death when young," she said. "And I won." ... Here is the story of her victory.” 0 likes
“When this book [So Far From The Bamboo Grove] was accepted for publication, a writer friend told Yoko that now she would be competing with other writers. Yoko said, No, she would not compete with anyone for anything. 'I competed with life and death when young,' she said. 'And I won.' ... Here is the story of her victory.” 0 likes
More quotes…