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Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven, Japan, 1858

(The Royal Diaries)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,133 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Princess Kazunomiya, half-sister of the Emperor of Japan, relates in her diary and in poems the confusing events occurring in the Imperial Palace in 1858, including political and romantic intrigue.
Hardcover, 157 pages
Published September 2004 by Scholastic
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,133 ratings  ·  93 reviews


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Crystal
What I learned from this book is that editors are WAY overpaid. This book is full of both factual and spelling errors. I was going to recommend it to my students since it is related to the big TV drama this year, "Atsuhime," but they would not be able to recognize the setting as Japan. I like the other books in this series, so this is a disappointment.
Rebecca
Apr 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
As a princess of Japan in the year 1858, twelve-year-old Kazunomiya lives a life of privilege and luxury. But it is one in which she is a virtual prisoner, kept sheltered behind palace walls, only able to leave for the occasional visit to a temple or shrine. But her predictable life is changing. Japan has kept itself isolated for generations, but now foreigners are clamoring to be allowed in, and given trading rights. And Kazunomiya finds her own future in question, when she learns that her betr ...more
Lady Knight
This was a great book! Definately a front runner for my favorite "Royal Diaries" book. Kathryn Lasky covered all of the bases here: Romance, Friendship, Court Intrigue, Political Manoevering, and so so much more! I was very impressed with the level of complexity presented in this novel, especially since it is so short. Bravo!

Kazunomiya was born in the year of the Fire Horse, a very unlucky event for a girl. So her birthdate was changed to one year earlier to make her birthdate fall in a year tha
...more
Claire
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
I really enjoyed this book, except for the ending. I just would have liked a bit more closure. In my opinion it ended quite suddenly. I was ready to read another chapter till I realized I just finished the last one. Again, I did enjoy the ride though.
Alyssa Thomas
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
I must be honest. I was very disappointed in this book. I almost DNFd multiple times, which has never happened before.
For a long time, I was absolutely obsessed with Kathryn Lasky’s books, and many of her books are still on my list of favorites, but this is the worst book I have read of hers. I didn’t realize that it was one of her books until I had just started it and scanned it on GR to update my page. Realizing this, I guess I came in with fairly high expectations, which were quickly crushed.
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Kelsey Hanson
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
This one was kinda on the depressing side as far as the Royal Diaries go. This focuses on Princess Kazunomiya's life at court and being torn between duty and her own desires. The descriptions of Japanese culture during this time period was very interesting, but I do wish that the other included a bit more detail about the significance of some of the ceremonies either in the actual diary or the historical notes. Particularly the teeth blackening ceremony.
Tiffany
Aug 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
this is a cool book. It shows how venomous court life could be, and how you had to fight for what you believed in. Court life wasn't just about pretty dresses and doing whatever you wanted to do. Most of the time, it was about power and some people had to do bad things to get it.
Angelique Sapone
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
COMPLETELY interesting book in 19th Century Japan. Not just the food they ate, but the traditions! So neat. Royal Japanese women are mean and petty by the way.
Meadow Frisbie
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful book. The descriptions of her palace are great and the cover art is gourgeous.

This series have been one of my all-time favorites.
Ellen Hamilton
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Only a few words need be said: the love(s) in this story was simply beautiful and amazing... 💕
Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Kazunomiya, Prisoner of Heaven / 0-439-16485-0

In a sense, most of the princesses in the Princess Diary series are prisoners in one form or other, as they are maneuvered in and out of political marriages and, in some cases (such as young Elizabeth of the Tudors) as they are maneuvered in and out of actual prisons. Kazunomiya herself dwells in a prison, albeit a lovely gilded one.

The year is 1858, and Japan is in a turmoil as investors from America have arrived on their shores and have threatened
...more
Carrie Slager
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-borrowed
Maybe it was the fact that I really have no interest in Japan or Japanese history in general or maybe it was the book itself, but I did not really enjoy Kazunomiya: Prisoner of Heaven. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t as good as some of the other books in The Royal Diaries.

Kazunomiya was a pretty bland character who just did not appeal to me. Although it is likely how the real woman behaved, for someone born in the year of the Fire Horse and supposedly was a fighter, she was not very proactive. I
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PurplyCookie
"They can try and make me their puppet. They can blacken my teeth. They can change my birthday, but deep inside of me nothing will change. My real birthday will always be my birthday. So, you see, no matter how they cut me up to serve their purposes, within me there shall always remain a little spark, a small piece that is my essence and cannot be destroyed no matter what."

Kazunomiya, along with her royal family, is thought to be a divinity, descended from the goddess of the sun, and she lives a
...more
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is about Kazunomiya, a young girl in Imperial Japan living at the end of the samurai era. She feels that she is basically a prisoner, her life controlled by others for their own purposes. She has been engaged to someone and had no input into that. She is a political pawn to be used by others and also has no say over that, either.

It's a novel that tells her personal story but at the same time gives the reader an excellent view into Japan at the end of the samurai period and the beginnin
...more
Shirleon Benson
I don't know much about Japanese history or culture at all, just to start off with. So this was a very interesting read.

I hadn't known the people treated their royal families with such high regard. I mean, I had heard/learned in class that they were seen as gods, yes, but to be treated more like they just didn't exist was crazy. It seemed to me that they really had no power; that was all the General.

I also had no idea that teeth blackening was a thing. Ever. I had to look it up, but it's true! J
...more
Kristina
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes historical fiction
I really like this book because it gives you a strong sense of the characters feelings. This book is about a girl,Kazunomiya, who was born on a bad luck day,fire horse. Kazunomiya's birthday is changed because she becomes the new emporer's wife. The Emporer requires her to change her birthdate so she is the same age as the Emporer. They belive the birthdate change will make the blood line stonger. An important event that occurred in the book was when Kazunomiya's favorite aunt died. This aunt wa ...more
Renee
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book I found to be a fairly accurate, believable, and interesting historical fiction read that I wanted to keep reading until the end; The time set of ancient Japan has always fascinated me.
The book clearly tells the truth of the ancient Japanese court: the lies, treacheries, and conquests that went on secretly and openly. Kazunomiya's life in the Japanese court is no different.
This story is based on a true story of a real Kazunomiys, explained in the back of the book, which I found very i
...more
Kelly
Jul 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: written-by-women
Other princesses might have ended up with worse fates, but I think Kazunomiya might win for most miserable day-to-day life. What's life like for a princess who can't leave the palace, know anything about outside life, or even choose her own birthday? Thanks to Kazunomiya and her mother and "aunt"'s determination, a lot more interesting than their enemies would want. It's not intriguing enough to warrant a higher rating, but it's not dull enough to knock it down either.

Last line:

(view spoiler)
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Cara
It was an interesting book, but I was rather bored through a lot of it. I mean it sounded like a bad love triangle for teenagers and the worst part is that it's true.
The teeth-blackening and never cutting hair unless the husband dies is just weird. I cringed when I read about it, but I was curious enough to Google it and now I'm completely disturbed. I mean, did they do that to hide imperfections and rotting? And/or to make the face appear even whiter? Doesn't make much sense to me, SMH. Yuck.
Ren
Sep 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Royal Diaries fans, orient lovers, teen girls.
I bought and read this early during Junior High, because I was so highly attracted to the Japanese Culture. It is a very simple read, as are all of the Royal Diaries, and the entires paint vivid pictures in your mind. Sometimes you forget at all that you are reading diary entries at all. It was a good read, with good character development but not very challenging; I would rate the reading level from 4th to 7th. However, all of the Royal Diaries pleased me greatly, even now as a college student, ...more
Heidi
Admirably, the Royal Diaries series doesn't just stick to princesses well-known in the West. I really enjoyed this one: it's the impetus behind me adding Margaret Drabble's The Red Queen to my To Read list (not about Kazunomiya, but about another Asian princess - Korean, in this case), and to chasing up more of the Royal Diaries for princesses I've never heard of.

A beautiful book, although I wonder about her ease in falling in love with her original intended.
Caity
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a particularly interesting view of Japan as the country's 200 years of seclusion were coming to an end and new treaties were being made with outside influences. The princess was in a unique position of being both very influential in how the country moved forward while also feeling that she had little to no real power. This is a great book for young readers who are a fan of the Royal Diaries or interested in Japanese history.
Johnny Bennett
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Interesting enough to whet my appetite for the shogun era again but not so well written to make me want to read anything else by this author. The diary format resulted in a choppy story and details that should have been fleshed out were left behind. Details that could have been left behind were explored much too deeply.
Devon
Kathryn Lasky's awesome to begin with, so I hoped her talent could do justice to this figure. Overall I think she did capture the voice of an elegant Japanese princess, and successfully communicated some of the vicious trials of court life. Still, as much as I love her, the conversations being had now in publishing would question why a Japanese author was not found to write this story.
Gigi Anderson
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have always loved Japan and this book is a great representation of it. Sadly she really was a prisoner and this is made me wanna cry because I think if she had been free she would have made a great ruler. She is strong, defiant and did the best with her lot in life. The more I saw how amazing she was the sadder I became.
Justine
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I rarely read historical fiction, but this was a refreshing read for me. It was interesting to see how even though Kazunomiya lived a life of luxury, she knew nothing about the world around her. I think prisoner of heaven was a perfect title for this book and I'm excited to read more about Asian princesses.
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Maria
Cover Story: A Dream of Spring
BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Word Crimes
Bonus Factors: Poetry, Sweets, God Complex, Japanese History
Relationship Status: Sassy Gay Friend

Read the full book report here.
Lauren
Yay! I got my copy back! OK, my thoughts. I liked this volume a lot. There were a couple of points where I thought they kind of broke diary narrative viewpoint, but I think some of that was necessary given the audience. The intrigue kept my attention, and Kazunomiya simply had a likeable personality in the book.
Emily
Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
For me this was one of the better books in the series. I got drawn in right away, the pacing was right, the story line was good, I connected to the main character. Everything seemed to be done right. There were just some parts that seemed to drawn out and because of that I rate this 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book. It's very good.
Victoria
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this. It was light, and the writing style was cute. It was too short for my liking, but it was fun. Kazunomiya was a different character to be reading about, and it was pleasantly refreshing. The historical aspect was just alright. I did wish they went into the political situation, but then I realize that this is in the eyes of a 12 year old. Nonetheless, it was good.
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1,624 followers
Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.

She was born June 24, 1944, and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is married to Christopher Knight, with whom she lives in Massachusetts.

Book 15, The War of t
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  • Lady of Ch'iao Kuo: Red Bird of the South, Southern China, A.D. 531
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