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Tei, A Memoir of the End of War and Beginning of Peace

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  70 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
More than sixty years ago, Tei Fujiwara wrote a memoir 流れる星は生きている (Nagareru Hoshiwa Ikiteiru) about her harrowing journey home with her three young children. But the story of her story is what every reader needs to know.
Tei’s memoir begins in August 1945 in Manchuria. At that time, Tei and her family fled from the invading Soviets who declared war on Japan a few days afte
Paperback, 344 pages
Published June 1st 2014 by Tonnbo Books (first published 1949)
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Nieret Mizushima
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a riveting and heart-rending story of a mother who will go to all ends to protect her children despite the odds. The translator, Nana Mizushima, is my sister and when she asked me to read an early version of the book, I did not know that I would not be able to put it down. I was intrigued with the the introduction explaining how our mother choked up during the reading of the book (she seldom talks about her experiences during this time and she tears up even less). Then I was curious abou ...more
Nanako Mizushima
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Find more information at As the translator of this remarkable memoir which became a Japanese bestseller, it wasn't possible to remain objective. This is a very emotional, personal account of a war refugee and her family who flee from Manchuria, travel down through northern Korea, cross the newly established 38th Parallel into southern Korea, and back home to war torn Japan. Her story gives the reader insight into not only the historical setting but also the feelings ...more
B Forshay
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tei – By Tei Fujiwara, Translated by Nana Mizushima

Become a firsthand observer of the author's journey of her family’s escape from war and starvation. Tei is a story of a Japanese woman and her 3 young children escaping from invading Russian forces in China during WWII. It’s remarkably more about her journey and trials than the war. The reader becomes a witness to human nature at the base level of survival, raw and exposed. Experiencing the disparities of title and class plus the nature of human
Ansley Clark
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For the past several nights, I have been curled up around this book. Tei's story is impossible to forget, a bone-achingly sharp and beautiful reminder of my privilege.

This is one of those very special stories that one encounters from time to time, whose characters refuse to leave you, long after you've stopped reading. I found my thoughts returning again and again to the details of Tei's survival through a nearly impossible ordeal--her long journey with three children, her loneliness, her const
Cm Yang
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“Tei”….a powerful, moving story of a mother’s desperate struggle to evacuate her 3 and 5 year old boys and baby daughter from Manchuria after Japan’s defeat in WWII. With her husband shipped to the Soviet Gulag, Tei encounters selfishness, indifference even cruelty among her fellow evacuees and the Japanese soldiers, with acts of kindness and compassion mixed from the Koreans who suffered greatly under Japanese occupation, the Russian soldiers , and finally the Americans, during the year-long ev ...more
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Goodreads send me the book TEI A MEMOIR OF THE END OF THE WAR for an honest review. thank you.
this is a memoir of a japanese woman at the end of the world war, attempting to go home again with her 3 small children. it is really a horrifying experience what refugees must experience.
perhaps there are 3 small paragraphs where you might smile, somewhere in the middle of the book but otherwise there is no levity. whatsoever. it is appalling what some of humanity has to suffer and how experiences cha
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My husband received this book in the Goodreads giveaway.

During the last few weeks, I have really been struggling to get "into" a book. When I picked this one up, the struggle was over; it immediately grabbed my attention, and I didn't want to set it down until I was finished.

The story will leave you with that unsettled feeling when you read a book that is true story, one that is so remarkable that it is hard to believe that anyone could survive.

I dare you to pick it up. Definitely worth it.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a personal account of the harrowing return to Japan of the author, Tei Fujiwara and her three children - a baby, a toddler, and a 5-year-old, from Manchuria through North and then South Korea. She thought she was dying so she wrote in great detail about this journey, as a way of helping her children come to terms with why they had to go through so much hardship. The suffering she describes is immense, grinding - physical and psychological. The reader gets an insight into her thinking, ho ...more
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am grateful to have received this book as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Tei Fujiwara, in this exquisite memoir, tells her story of unspeakable suffering following the defeat of Japan in August, 1945. As the wife of a worker at a meteorological station in Manchuria, she was force to flee the approach of the Soviet army with her three small children, ages five years to one month, without her husband and with only what she could carry. The ensuing year takes her to an impoverished Japanese ref
Joey P
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
When I first received the book, it was hard for me to begin reading it for many reasons. Knowing what the Japanese has done to the Chinese, Korean and Russian before/during WWII, I did not know if I would have any sympathies for the reverse position. Tei was fleeing from Manchuria where the Japanese would immigrate to get a higher social or financial status, also Manchuria was where all the "research experiments" took place (Unit 731). WWII lasted six years why would she settle and have three ch ...more
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tei, A Memoir of The End of War and the Beginning of Peace by Tei Fujiwara is the true story of a woman’s harrowing journey with her three children over sixty years ago. She wrote this book as a gift to her children and as an apology of her stern behavior towards them that enabled them to survive the trek. Ms. Mizushima translated this book with the help of her mother to share this story with the world. The world needs to have this story of courage, endurance and strength.

The story starts on Aug
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am very thankful that I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.

In all my history classes years ago I heard a lot about WWII and the atomic bombs we dropped on Japan. But, then the war ends, and I was never really taught about all the repercussions: the Soviets invading Manchuria which was part of the Japanese Empire (did I even learn how far that extended?) and the hikiage of thousands/millions of Japanese trying to return to Japan through Korea. This memoir is about one woman trying to g
Chuck Nemer
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The story of Tei Fujiwara is amazing. I found myself in equal parts, amazed, humbled, and terrified if I could ever live that standard of relentlessness and courage. It also makes me realize how thin a veneer civilization is. The lessons learned for me are to take hope when confronted with ultimate challenges that the human spirit CAN rise to the occasion, and the infinite capacity of people to change,endure, forgive, and grow. I'm a voracious reader and can whip through a book in a couple days. ...more
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful, inspirational, and at times heartbreaking true story of a Japanese woman living as a refugee in Korea and trying to make her way home with her three young children (including an infant) after WWII. This is a story I will remember! As a mother and a woman, the struggles and challenges Tei Fujiwara faced seem unimaginable. Poor living conditions, exposure to the elements, malnutrition, disease and the inhumanity of others surely broke many others living under these conditions. ...more
Joanne Kelly
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I recently read "Unbroken," so the imprint stamped in my brain was of Japanese as cruel abusers of prisoners of war. This powerful memoir tells a different side of the story. It chronicles the cruelty and abuse suffered by a Japanese woman and her three young children as they tried to return home to Japan from Manchuria after the Japanese surrendered at the end of WW2. Tei's maternal ferocity, resourcefulness and determination kept her children alive and moving towards home, even when they had t ...more
Pam Ferdinand
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Tei’s story moved me profoundly. Tei brings us with her through condition of appalling hardship with two small children to look after as best she could, often in depths of despair. she inspires us, and she humbles us. For Tei never loses the most precious aspect of being human: her ability to see those around her as human beings, also. Their actions are helpful and generous, or threatening and cruel, but they are human. In a time when people were often seen as merely one of a group defined as al ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, reviews
I'm not even really sure where to start with this review. Reading the book was slow at first but once I got about 50 or so pages in I couldn't put it down. Tei Fujiwara is hands down one of the bravest human beings who has ever existed. It is impossible to read her account without tears and a racing heart, especially as a parent. Throughout the entire narrative I found myself wondering whether I would have had the strength or courage to do the things she did or endure the pain she had to endure. ...more
Robert Franzblau
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I started this book while in the middle of another, however, I then wanted to stay with it until I finished it. I was immediately pulled into the struggle that a mother and her 3 children endured. This is a very well written true story that is filled with both vivid descriptions of physical events as well as the emotions that a mother felt and had to deal with during their journey of mostly unknown outcomes. It reveals tremendous personal strengths and sacrifice that had to be employed to enable ...more
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing

While reading "Tei" for the first time, I could see that this book is something special: well-written, the translation is meticulous, and the story is engrossing. The historical perspective of a mother, trying to survive with three small children during a war, is rarely recorded except for snippets on the news. Well done.
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*I received this in a goodreads giveaway*
In US History class we learned about the Manhattan Project and the atomic bombings in Japan, but we never discussed the effects it had on the people of Japan. The living conditions of those who fled to Korea were awful! It was eyeopening to read such a violent memoir about innocent Japanese civilians during WWII. I highly recommend this book!
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Won this for free via Goodreads First Reads. A beautiful memoir about a mother's journey with her children.
World War II didn't end with the atomic bomb—not really. For some, it lasted much longer.

For Tei Fujiwara, the end of the war meant one thing: flee. She was living in Manchuria with her family at the time, and they knew they had to get away, get back to Japan. But that wasn't an easy matter. Fujiwara spent months in...not quite an internment camp? But in terrible conditions, anyway. Her husband was sent to a camp with almost all the other men in their group, and nobody knew if those men would ev
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an astonishing story on many fronts. It is a rare account of the Japanese flight out of Manchuria and Korea after WWII, a woman manages to bring three small children through physical and emotional hell, and the story is written in a personal and poetic manner that is not typical of Japanese writings, especially from the time this book was originally written. Tei Fujiwara takes her children and flees south from Manchuria with other Japanese while her husband remains behind and is later se ...more
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading Tei's story. The incidents she chose to convey her experiences in Korea and on her journey home have such poetic beauty and weight to them, and at the same time her voice is so completely relatable (despite events and circumstances that are almost unimaginable). What struck me most is her honesty about her feelings in the moment; she doesn't sugarcoat her frustrations, nor does she present herself as a saint. And yet as she looks back, she demonstrates a quiet compassion and unde ...more
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that should be on everyone's to-read list. Yes, it is a story with a lot of heartbreak, but more importantly it is a testament of what the human race is capable of doing to survive and especially what mothers are capable of doing for the survival of their children. I say mothers because in this story the father's are quite often not present. It also gives us a glimpse of how some people, when faced with extreme challenges, can be selfish and uncaring while others are willing to le ...more
John Neal
Jul 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book! So honest, so evocative. Some of the hardships Tei and her children suffered made me squirm in my chair. But the journey through this particular hell was worth it. The glimpses we get into another time, a different culture, and a woman's spirit -- both her bravery and her frailty -- is invaluable.
Thank you, Nana Mizushima, for translating this memoir so beautifully. It reads so naturally, I often forgot it wasn't originally written in English. "Tei" is a marvelous book,
Mad Giles (Giles A. Madding)
A Tale of How the Struggles of War Do Not End On the Battle Fields

Five is not enough stars for this powerful piece of history. A piece of history that deserves to be read by everyone at least once.

This story will stay with you long after the last page. We readers travel along on the harrowing story of despair, uncertainty, and the tenacious fight for survival of a young mother trying to bring her family to the faraway safety.

** This book was won as a Goodreads First Reads **

Gillian Clifford
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book. Wouldn't have chosen it myself but it was a read as part of book club. The endurance of humans through ear time is amazing and the strength to survive is paramount from start to finish. A rally rewarding read.
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is so powerful. Possibly moreso because Tei Fujiwara wrote this for her children when she thought she was dying. This book is about survival in a foreign country where most people hate you for your nationality after a war that tore up Asia and it is most definitely worth the read.
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for every high school and college history class involving WWII, or really any war for that matter. Both heart wrenching and a testament to the strength of the human will to fight and live, it was one that I read in a day.
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