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The Forest of Wool and Steel

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  466 ratings  ·  99 reviews
What he experienced that day wasn’t life-changing . . . It was life-making.

Tomura is startled by the hypnotic sound of a piano being tuned in his school. It seeps into his soul and transports him to the forests, dark and gleaming, that surround his beloved mountain village. From that moment, he is determined to discover more.

Under the tutelage of three master piano-tuners
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 25th 2019 by Doubleday (first published September 2015)
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Amalia Gavea
‘’Inhale the scent of a forest close by. I can smell the earthy fragrance of autumn as night falls, the leaves gently rustling, I can feel the damp air of dusk descending.’’

Our story begins in autumn. Tomura, a young man from Hokkaido, starts working as an apprentice to a piano tuner, a charming man named Mr. Yanagi. Tomura meets all kinds of clients, some sensitive, others abrupt and demanding, but no meeting influences him more than the acquaintance of Kazune, an enigmatic young woman, and
The Forest of Wool and Steel is a story of Tomura who at the age of 17 becomes mesmerised by the sound of a piano played by a piano tuner who just finished the tuning. Tomura suddenly realises that all he wants to do in life is to become a piano tuner. After finishing his piano tuning studies, Tomura starts working as an apprentice in a small city in Hokkaido. Tomura is observing his more experienced colleagues who have many years of experience and can tune pianos to their clients requests. ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just didn’t choose a book that suited me, I was very intrigued by synapses, the idea of a story around a piano tuner. Too bad that the whole thing is really slow until the nervous breakdown; all this dreamlike ideas thrown there, can be held up to a certain point...
Okay, you get to the end of the book ( and I personally had to pray all the Saints in order to finish this book, i have this syndrome,... never being able to give up on shitty books, i have to finish all i read! Stupid me!!) and
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
My thanks to NetGalley and RandomHouse UK for a review copy of the book. This is a Japanese novel translated into English by Philip Gabriel (who has also translated Murakami).

The Forest of Wool and Steel tells us the story of a young man Tomura. As a high school student, Tomura was deputed one day to conduct a piano tuner, Mr Itadori to the school gym to tune the piano. Hearing him work, more specifically the sounds that he manages to produce, evokes in his mind images of the forest at
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“Whenever I had a spare moment I'd stand in front of the piano, heave open its mighty lid and peer inside. Eighty-eight keys, each with one to three strings attached. The steel strings were taut, and I felt a jolt of excitement each time I contemplated the line of hammers, ranged across the action like an exquisite row of magnolia buds, just waiting to be used. The forest, with everything in perfect balance, was utterly beautiful.”

The Forest of Wool and Steel is an award-winning novel by
The Forest of Wool and Steel is a melodious novel about a young man, Tomura, at the beginning of his career as a piano tuner. He's filled with self doubt and thinks he'll never measure up to other masterful piano-tuners.

This is a character-driven novel, where nothing much happens, Tomura's journey being more important than the destination. It felt a bit too slow at times, as it goes into quite a few details about pianos, tuning, ways of playing. I enjoyed learning a bit about this magnificent
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
The title of this book is a reference to the internal workings of a piano where wool, in the form of felt covering the hammers, and steel, in the form of piano strings, make the metaphorical forest but also make music.

When Tomura hears a piano being tuned in his school hall, this sets him on a path to becoming a piano tuner himself. It turns out piano tuning, at least in this book, is a lot more complicated than simply ensuring each string on the piano plays the right note. Tomura has to battle
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Forest of Wool and Steel follows Tomura, a seemingly unassuming young man, on his journey to being a piano tuner and manages to be inspirational and empowering in the process. It has a simple fable-like quality to it which works so beautifully and led to a rich, rewarding reading experience. I always tend to find great works of Japanese writers serene and almost calming and this was definitely the case here. Sometimes the translation can skew the original meaning, but I feel it has been ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Such an appealing story. Knowing next to nothing about pianos and still less about tuning them, I was fascinated by all the detail involved in a piano tuner’s job. What clients mean when they want a ‘bright’ sound, for example, and how people’s perception of sound varies. I was particularly taken with the narrator’s likening of the nuances of tone and pitch to the sounds of the forest he grew up in - many opportunities for gorgeous descriptions here. Interesting, too, are his thoughts on the ...more
Kelly Furniss
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
The synopsis of this book pulled me in straightaway and as a fan of Japanese translated literature plus the accolades of this winning the 2016 Japan Booksellers Award and the translator been Phillip Gabriel who translates for one of my favourite authors Haruki Murakami I quickly got a copy.
Our main character Tomura is at school and witnesses the piano undergoing a tuning session.
Tomura is completely absorbed with the intricacies of the process and right there and then decides that this is what
Elvina Zafril
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such an appealing story. Translated by Philip Gabriel.

This book is split into five chapters. Everything about this book is just perfect. I was fascinated by all the detail involved in a piano tuner’s job.

Seven sounds - do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do, or twelve if you include semitones - are teased out, named, and then they sparkle just like the constellations. And it’s the tuner’s job to pick these out with precision from the vast ocean of sound, arrange them delicately and make them resonate.
Alex (PaperbackPiano)
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Apart from the fact that this book had the most perfect subject matter EVER for me, I absolutely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys literary fiction. This was just the loveliest, gentlest little book. There is such a dreamlike quality to the writing that I really loved. Check out this example:-

“Pianos want to be played. They are always open – to people and to music, ready to shine a helpful guiding light towards worldly beauty.”

I just adore that! This book had some of the most gorgeously
Shirley Bateman
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Charming and mystical with endearing characters. Not much happened and lots of references to piano tuning being a metaphor for life. A sweet, relaxing read.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, pragya, fiction
Book: The Forest of wool and steel by Natsu Miyashita
Genre: Japanese Literature
Pages: 224
My Rating:

The Forest of wool and steel is a beautiful book. It tells the story of a boy Tomura, who at the age of 17 finds his calling in life to become a piano tuner and traces his journey in fulfilling that purpose.
This book is written in a beautiful manner that it not only evokes feelings but also makes you resonate with it. The hardship that the protagonist suffers through in the book, is so relatable
A short novel (and the third unexpected book - all excellent, though this was the best - I picked by chance in a British bookstore on my recent visit there) and it was just awesome; the first half is among the best ever reading experience as it is magical and enthralling (the story is simple, a boy from an iso9lated mountain village in Japan gets to watch a piano tuner at work by chance when he is deputized by the principal of his school to greet him and show him around to the school piano, and ...more
Hizatul Akmah
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Playing the piano is not how I'll make a living. It's how I'll make a life.

Imagine your whole life changed when you listened to the hauntingly beautiful music coming from an instrument that you know next to nothing about? Tomura didn't grow up in a family that could afford to send him to the piano class but it didn't change the fact that he was always been born to be a piano tuner.

I'm a fan of descriptive writings that could make all the words come alive in my head. Like, I could listen to the
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book. *

The Forest of Wool and Steel is a metaphor for a piano, which creates music through wool felt hammers striking steel strings.

Tomaru is an aimless student from the mountain country, until he hears a piano tuner at work in his high school gym. The experience transports him and he instantly knows what he wants to do with his life. After getting some training, he gets a job as an apprentice. The book then
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
A beautiful story about how to find "your calling", and more importantly, how to deal with the disappointment and anxiety that comes with being unable to find or fullfil it. Such a light but emotional read that tought me a few lessons (and a great deal about piano tuning). Love educational fiction!
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a beautifully written ode to piano music and tuning.

We follow a young man called Tomura study how to become a tuner and work alongside his colleagues. I also learned a lot about the work itself, which is rather interesting.

This is a slow-paced and lyrical book.
If you like Japanese fiction, I can recommend this book.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy.
Alan Bevan
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A gentle account of a young man becoming a piano tuner, learning about himself in the process. The Japanese culture shines through. For me, it brought a deeper appreciation of the complexity of the piano, not just in a mechanical sense but as a medium to express sound.
Bethwyn (Butterfly Elephant Books)
I loved this soft and understated book. Tomura is such an interesting character, with so many doubts but still following his dreams as much as he can. There were some absolutely beautiful passages in here. There is a small place in my heart for this book now.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anyone who loves pianos would love this!
Dayana Aqela
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I inhale the scent of a forest close by, I can smell the earthy fragrance of autumn as night falls, the leaves gently rustling, I can feel the damp of air descending.”

With that as the first sentence of the book, I couldn’t help but shudder in excitement. Would it be a story in which there sit a piano and a boy in the middle of the forest, admiring the black shiny instrument just like the way he does when the mountains roar at night? Turns out it was quite like that.

As someone who has zero
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to start by applauding the beautiful imagery included throughout the whole book, the descriptions and spoken dialogue was unflawable. The read is split into five chapters with numerous sub-chapters that follows Tomura's journey from the first introduction he has with the piano to becoming a master of tuning. This helps break up the book nicely, although it's only 200 - or so pages. This time helps you to emotionally recover!

At places throughout the book you can feel Tomura's feel of
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel may well be slim but it packs a profound punch. Tomura’s life is changed when as a teenager he hears a piano tuner work on the school piano. Suddenly he’s transported in his mind to a forest of wool (the felt on the piano hammers) and steel (the piano strings), and feels a need to follow his vocation, to become a piano tuner himself. As we learn more about his training and accompany him on his first job with his fellow piano tuners, and the customers they tend to, we also contemplate ...more
Nicki Markus
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Forest of Wool and Steel is a book that could be described as a love song to the piano.It is a beautiful and (appropriately) lyrical work that will stir the hearts of piano-lovers everywhere. It is a homage to music, and to the art of perseverance. I loved following Tomura on his journey as he learnt both how to tune a piano and how to believe in himself and find his purpose in life. The story and characters captured my imagination and rekindled my own love for the piano. It's a book I would ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tomura had no idea where his career is heading when he hears a piano being tuned in school. In a split second a whole new world opens up to him and he discovers his professional vocation. Determined to answer his calling in life Tomura trains under three master piano tuners - each with different styles of tuning based on their different intended outcomes. Tomura is anxious to learn his craft well and provide a good service to his customers.. What a delightful story and so worth reading.

Pam Tickner
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Bright, quiet, crystal-clear writing that evokes fond memories, that seems a touch sentimental yet is unsparing and deep, writing as lovely as a dream, yet as exact as reality." Tomura aims for this in his piano tuning and the book reflects the sentiment throughout. The love of the sound of a piano is the central theme of this beautifully written book set in small town Japan.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
A very gentle read, completely in the tone and nature of the Japanese culture. A lovely book, but there wasn’t a lot to keep me intrigued. I felt it lacking in something. The characters were sweet but I didn’t feel particularly close to any of them, the storyline was simple.
Hmm... Difficult to describe.
I loved the writing, it was poignant and lovely with the metaphors to the piano. I must add that the mechanics of a piano fell flat on me since I am unversed in this area. However, it was enjoyable enough!
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Natsu Miyashita was born in Fukui Prefecture on Honshu island, Japan, in 1967. She has had a lifelong passion for reading and writing and has played the piano since she was very young. The Forest Of Wool And Steel won the influential Japan Booksellers’ Award, in which booksellers vote for the title they most enjoy to hand-sell. It has also been turned into a popular Japanese film directed by ...more
“With both hands, he played an octave. The piano, part of the scenery until now, began to breathe. As each note was struck, the piano raised its heavy body and stretched its folded arms and legs, preparing to break into song, about to spread its wings. This was unlike any piano I’d ever seen. I pictured an enormous lion, slowly rising, eyes on its prey.” 0 likes
“When you heard Kazune play, it summoned up visible, tangible scenery. Light shining down among the trees, wet with morning dew. Drops of water sparkling on the tips of leaves, then dripping down. One morning, repeated over and over again. A vibrancy and solemnity born fresh and new.” 0 likes
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