Most noble-born girls of Tokoyo’s age learn to sing, paint, and write poetry.
She’s the daughter of a samurai in fourteenth century Japan, Tokoyo’s father trains her in the martial arts. When he is away, she escapes to the sea where she works with the Ama—a society of women and girls who dive in the deep waters for food and treasure. But disaster strikes her family. Can Tokoyo save her father using the lessons she learned and the skills she mastered to overcome corrupt officials, her own doubts, and a nasty sea demon?
Faith L. Justice is a science geek and history junkie who writes award-winning novels, short stories, and articles in her historic Brooklyn home. She’s published in venues such as Salon.com, Writer's Digest, Strange Horizons, The Copperfield Review and Circles in the Hair.
You can read her stories, interviews with famous authors, and sample chapters of her novels at her website. Check out her blog for historical fiction book reviews, interviews with HF authors, "History in the News" roundups and giveaways.
Faith lives with her husband, daughter and the required gaggle of cats. For fun, she likes to dig in the dirt—her garden and various archaeological sites.
Tokoyo is the daughter of a samurai in medieval Japan during the fourteenth-century. When her father is falsely accused of cursing the local Regent Hojo Takatoki and banished to the Oki Islands far away, Tokoyo is determined to find and clear his name.
The story begins with Tokoyo coming up from a long dive of collecting oysters with the Ama, "women of the sea" or pearl divers. Among her catch is a pearl of "great worth," which she gifts to the Ama to thank them for allowing her to dive and training her. Later in the story, this generosity is repaid when the Ama take her in after her father is arrested and their home and wealth are seized. In addition, a corrupt minister claims all of Tokoyo's belongings except for some clothing and a knife she was able to barter for by giving him some of her deceased mother's jewelry. Several months go by as Tokoyo lives and works with the Ama collecting oysters, her father always on her mind. When her concerns about not receiving any word about his safety become too deep, Tokoyo sets out across the ocean traveling from village to village in the nearby islands searching for her beloved father. Everyone she meets has either not seen him or is unwilling to risk angering the Regent by telling her his whereabouts. While on one of the islands, Tokoyo comes across a priest about to sacrifice a young girl to appease the sea demons and she offers to take the girls place instead. Tokoyo plans to dive into the ocean and kill the sea demon or die trying.
According to the author's note, Tokoyo was inspired by a Japanese folktale called "The Tale of the Oki Islands" from the book, Best-Loved Folktales of the World. The story held a special meaning to the author so she was inspired to trace the origin of the original story, which it turns out was a collection of stories from Ancient Tales and Folk-lore from Japan written by Richard Gordon Smith. Also according to the authors note, the original story featured Tokoyo's father as the "hero" of the story but the author instead wanted to write a story about an adventurous girl who battles a sea demon to save her father. Tokoyo is both strong-willed and talented having learned how to dive and through her samurai training from her father. Just by looking at the cover you can see the determination in her eyes. She is also quite brave and a lovely heroine and the one who ultimately wields her dagger killing the sea demon. Tokoyo also manages to free her father by finding the actual culprit that cursed the Regent, thus winning his freedom. There are lovely black and white illustrations by Kayla Gilliam and I especially enjoyed the addition of the Cultural notes which provided the definition of the Japanese words used in the story as well as the Author's note at the end of the book. While the story had the length and feel of a folktale, I did wish the ending wouldn't have been so sudden as I really liked Tokoyo's spirit and love for her father and would've enjoyed learning more about her. *In exchange for an honest review I received a review copy from the publisher*
Tokoyo, The Samurai’s Daughter is set in Japan in AD 1319, the third year of Hojo Takatoki’s regency for Shogun Price Morikuni.
Tokoyo’s father is Tokoyo’s whole world. He is also Lord Oribe, the noble samurai, and Tokoyo is the samurai’s daughter. Tokoyo does not have a mother, she died giving birth to Tokoyo’s still-born brother when she was just a baby herself.
Born into a world of privilege, Tokoyo is very aware of the poorer circumstances of those in the village. One of her favourite past times is to dive with a group of female divers called the Ama, who are trained to dive for oysters at the bottom of the ocean. The book very quickly provides insight into Tokoyo’s character, which is determined and tenacious as well as kind and generous and sets the reader up for the story to come.
One morning, Tokoyo’s world is shattered. Her father is accused of cursing the most powerful man in Japan, Regent Hojo Takatoki, and is banished to the Oki Islands. His lands and fortune are forfeited. Tokoyo is barely able to say goodbye to her father and when she returns to her family home, she finds that she has been turned out without a penny. The only items she manages to salvage are some sensible clothes and a knife.
Tokoyo is convinced of her father’s innocence and sets off on a dangerous journey to join him in his banishment on the Oki Islands.
This is a story of rising above adversity and good conquering evil. The story also highlights how good deeds and kindness to others have a way of returning to the giver in a time of need.
I read this book with my son, Michael, aged eleven years old. While Michael loves to be read to, he is a reluctant reader himself. He loved this book so much that he actually read on ahead by himself which is very unusual.
Michael’s favourite part of the story was Tokoyo’s encounter with a water monster. Michael was very admiring of Tokoyo’s ability to hold her breath underwater for long periods and fighting skills.
Our rating for this book is five out of five stars and I would recommend it for readers, male and female, aged 10 years and upwards.
Tokoyo: The Samurai’s Daughter by Faith L. Justice , 101 pgs. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Raggedy Moon Books, 2017. $6.99 Language – G (0 swears, 0 “f”), Mature Content – G; Violence – G;
MS – ADVISABLE.
As the daughter of an honored samurai, Tokoyo has lived a comfortable life with more freedom than others think she should have. Then her father is framed for treason, and Tokoyo is thrown out of her home penniless. Only by using the samurai skills her father taught her does Tokoyo stand a chance to clear his name and find the real criminal.
The story of Tokoyo illustrates several Japanese ancient traditions, including samurai honor, ancestor worship, and mythology. I love that such a short story can still reveal the beauty of a different culture. Following Tokoyo’s quest to save her father teaches readers of honor, love, and sacrifice. Furthermore, the illustrator, Kayla Gilliam, does a fantastic job alongside Justice. I looked forward to seeing Gilliam’s portrayals of Tokoyo’s journey.
You are immersed in a sea of Japanese culture in the fourteenth century, through a story inspired by the Japanese folktale called "The Tale Of The Oki Islands." Tokoyo, The Samurai's Daughter goes into more depth than the original folktale by really capturing the essence of the Ama, Japanese pearl divers who are usually women, by incorporating them into the story in a way that makes them more prominent. Even the traditional Japanese clothing worn by the Ama is showcased, such as the fundoshi, a loincloth, and a tenugui, a blessed bandana. Tokoyo learns the skillful yet difficult art of diving for pearls and food with the Ama, and thus the ability to hold her breath for a prolonged period of time, which she ultimately utililizes later in the story for a different purpose.
Tokoyo isn't the typical dainty, young Japanese girl who learns to paint and write poetry. She is the daughter of a noble samurai and is trained in martial arts. She is fierce. She is brave. She is extremely capable as a female. So when her father, samurai Oribe Shima, is banished to the Oki islands for a suspected curse against the Regent Hojo Takatoki, Tokoyo eventually goes on an incredibly dangerous adventure in search of her father, even encountering a sea demon, to try to save him and his honor. Her skills as a samurai's daughter and as an Ama prepare her for her journey. I really adored this book! The whole story was fascinating and such a delight to read. And I was very pleased with the ending.
It was nice to see such a strong female lead with a strong backbone, especially in fourteenth century Japan. Even in the face of hardships, Tokoyo, as a young girl, does not lose hope, and has such immense courage and fearlessness, that even a samurai would be impressed by and proud of. I also loved that in this story, a daughter is treated no differently than a son would be in terms of honor and being taught the ways of the samurai and martial arts. There is a strong sense of prestige to be a samurai and for one's kin/descendants. In an Asian culture where a son is highly prized, this book takes a refreshingly liberal take, by a samurai holding his daughter in the same esteem as he would a son. This was very endearing and even though the book displayed a moment where this was deemed unacceptable by a Japanese guard, Tokoyo and her father overlooked this. Tokoyo's samurai father was very encouraging and loving to her. I also liked how Tokoyo had so much freedom during this time period to do something for herself, in order to seek out her definition of happiness. For Tokoyo, that was diving for pearls among the Ama.
In terms of the nature of the Japanese culture, I felt that Faith L. Justice did a wonderful job displaying the utmost respect that Japanese people have towards their elders, as shown in the well-mannered dialogue. Also, meditation is practiced in the story, which is also a well-known technique in Japan. In addition, the samurai's prominence and noble nature in fourteenth century Japan, as well as the honorable duties of the Ama were well demonstrated. Japanese folktales are also a fascinating part of Japanese culture and I loved how this story was inspired by one. I also liked that a cultural notes page was added to the back of the book, which provided definitions to the Japanese terms that were mentioned in the book.
The beautiful black-and-white illustrations in the book really bring the story to life and are brilliantly done. They are not only aesthetically pleasing, showing fine craftsmanship and artistic talent, but also grasp intense emotion. The message they evoke is powerful and meaningful. Kayla Gilliam did a marvelous job!
Faith L. Justice created an intriguing tale that was even better than the original Japanese folktale it was inspired by. It was outstanding! You are swept away not only by the beautiful storytelling, but also the wonderful illustrations. Tokoyo, The Samurai's Daughter is a remarkable illustrated middle-grade book that is incredibly inspiring and touching. I highly recommend reading it!
I have no idea where to begin with this book. I was asked by the publisher if I wanted to read and review it, and while I don't do that very often, I decided to give this book a try, because it looks pretty awesome and sounded exciting too. I had hoped that this would be an exciting and epic adventure. But it was not. Not even a little bit.
Which is a bit disappointing. My review won't be very long, as this book took me less than an hour to read. It was very short, and not that good either. Giving it two stars, as I felt like it could have been a great story, if only it had been written a bit better, and been a lot longer. Instead it ended up being pretty much of a disappointment.
I shall start with the writing. I suppose that it wasn't all bad, but it was not a writing for me at all. It's set in year 1300 something, in Japan. I felt nothing about this history, because the writing wasn't good, and nothing was described. The book is really truly all kinds of short, and so nothing really happens. This is not a book to read if you wish to read about old Japan. I don't know how old this main girl was supposed to be, but I think she was a young teenager. The reason for why I also had such issues with the writing was that in the beginning of the book, the girl thinks that if her father died, she would die too, and that she would have nothing to live for. And that's just. Yeah. Not a story for me at all. Ugh. Big thank you to the publisher, for sending me a copy of this book to read.
I really do not have much to say about this story. It was really short. And I did not like it much, I'm sorry to say. I wish this could have been a book for me. There are some kind of cute illustrations included, though those weren't that amazing either, sadly. I do think that some people could enjoy this story, but I was not one of them. I didn't like the writing, and I found the story to be way too fast and full of flaws. It's about a young girl who lives with her father, a samurai. It's mentioned often, but never shown. Should have been.
Then her father is accused of doing something she knows that he could not have done, and so he is sent away. She loses her home, and is full of grief. I felt nothing for this, simply because it was not written well enough to me. I didn't feel anything for this girl, as there was no personality there at all. After a year, she finally goes after her father, to live in exile with him. Just. Not good. There is even a sea dragon included. Story was too short, and too weird, and not good enough for me. But I am kind of glad that I gave it a try.
Faith Justice’s book, Tokoyo: The Samurai’s Daughter (2017, Raggedy Moon Books) is an intriguing story featuring a strong female as the central character. Set in 14th Century Japan, the books reads as a combination of historical fiction and fantasy adventure. The chapters are suspenseful and this short chapter book should appeal to “tween age” boys and girls alike. The Author Notes and Cultural Notes at the end of the book are interesting and helpful to the reader in understanding Japanese culture. Kayla Gilliam’s black and white illustrations enhance the book perfectly.
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I received a copy of Tokoyo, The Samurai's Daughter from @kidlitexchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Tokoyo is the end of a long line of Samurais. Her father is well known and respected until one day he is falsely accused of putting a curse on the Emperor. He is banished to an island that is forbidden to have visitors. Tokoyo trains and travels to the island with the help of her friends, Ama ladies, whom Tokoyo has been training with since she was a child. Ama ladies train to dive deep into the water to get oysters and can hold their breath for long periods of time. Tokoyo searches and searches until she is just about to give up. She has lost everything except her mother's scarf and her great grandfather's knife that gives her strength. Tokoyo wakes up to find a priest is sacrificing a young girl to a horrible eel-like monster in the ocean. She decides to take the girls place instead. Once in the ocean, Tokoyo finds a statue with the real curse but must battle the sea monster. Of course, she does and she wins. All live happily ever after as her father is cleared of the false accusations. Based on an old folktale, this story is interesting to read. I recommend this book for 4th grade and up.
Language – G (0 swears, 0 “f”), Mature Content – G; Violence – G; As the daughter of an honored samurai, Tokoyo has lived a comfortable life with more freedom than others think she should have. Then her father is framed for treason, and Tokoyo is thrown out of her home penniless. Only by using the samurai skills her father taught her does Tokoto stand a chance to clear his name and find the real criminal. The story of Tokoyo illustrates several Japanese ancient traditions, including samurai honor, ancestor worship, and mythology. I love that such a short story can still reveal the beauty of a different culture. Following Tokoyo’s quest to save her father teaches readers of honor, love, and sacrifice. Furthermore, the illustrator, Kayla Gilliam, does a fantastic job alongside Justice. I looked forward to seeing Gilliam’s portrayals of Tokoto’s journey. Reviewed for https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/
If you loved the story of Mulan, this one will take you back...minus the singing, helpful critters, and fireworks. Take one beloved father wrongfully exiled, and one daughter determined to clear his name and see him once again. There are dangers, trials, struggles, surprises, and a whole lot of heart.
I enjoyed the tale told, the traditions shared, and the values celebrated. The only thing I would have changed was the length...I wanted more! A great read for the younger adventurer in your life or those young at heart.