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The Tokaido Road

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,045 ratings  ·  103 reviews
After the execution of her father, the young and beautiful Lady Asano is in grave danger from the powerful Lord Kira. In order to save herself Asano must find Oishi, the leader of the fighting men of her clan. She believes he is three hundred miles to the southwest in the imperial city of Kyoto.
Disguising her loveliness in the humble garments of a traveling priest, and cal
Paperback, 528 pages
Published November 29th 2005 by Forge Books (first published January 30th 1991)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,045 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a very pleasant surprise for me, I loved this book and I have reread it several times. I might have to add it to my list of need to read again books now that I've brought it out of the dust. I have always loved Japan and this was a very colorful and detailed book about feudal Japan. I love history lessons any time they are interesting to read, this one was. The love story between the two main characters was beautiful. Danger, adventure, revenge, swords, true love, what more could you as ...more
Mikki Crisostomo
Ever been so down on your luck after your father was politically assassinated that you went and sold yourself to a brothel as a high-class courtesan to hide from his enemies? Me neither (my dad is just just fine, thanks!), but Lady Asano, otherwise known as Cat, has recently fallen from grace in those exact circumstances and figures she doesn't have anywhere else to go.

A dish of poisoned blowfish and a dead client shatter her life as a courtesan at the House of the Carp. Once again, Cat is on th
John Simmons
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. My wife got it years ago and read it several times. The cover and blurbs for it made me think it was a romance novel so I never picked it up. When I was looking for a book that was in the vein of Shogun (one of my favorites), Tokaido Road kept popping up. So, since we already had it, I decided I would give it chance.

Within the first chapter or two, I was hooked. The detail and the storytelling combined to keep me enthralled. About halfway through the book, I decided to go ahea
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book to read if you are interested in learning about Japan during the Edo period. The author actually lived in Japan, carefully researched the time, and traveled the Tokaido Road itself. The story is filled with fascinating details about how the ordinary people of the time lived - their day-to-day activities, food, traveling, method of worship and many others. The blurb on this copy read like a Harlequin romance, but the story is very far from it. It is actually based on a true s ...more
Ashley Marie
The audiobook narration was godawful. I may reread my physical copy eventually but after awhile it just seemed like a lot of nothing. "Travel" books tend to have this repetitive quality about them that authors really have to fight against in order to make things interesting, and I wasn't super-invested in any of it. ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
This proves that while I might teach Asian history and quite enjoy reading about history (in real life), novels about East Asia are not for me. For a story based on a real life event (and one that has been represented in song/theatre/film multiple times), this novel had nothing much that was new to add. Maybe it was revolutionary in its time (1991) but, 20 years later, it's not aged well. The first 100 pages or so plod along, much like Lady Asano (or Cat). The last part picks up a bit but, by th ...more
Cheli Scott
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was rich, lush, and well researched. It pulled you into a complicated family drama, but was action packed. The romance was beautiful, but not soppy. It was a long read, but I hardly noticed and when I finished it I wanted more! I suggest it for anyone who likes historical fiction and intricate detail. A must read for new adult women, because it was both empowering and sexy!
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Hard to put down - and, my goodness, I can hardly wrap my head around the complicated rules of 17th century Japan! Thoroughly researched, gripping, and very interesting.
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, lit-general
This historical novel was a mixed bag. It had the best sense of place of any Westerner-penned novel about feudal Japan I've read and the characters were appealing, but its length and incredibly slow pace as well as the relatively unexciting plot hurt an otherwise appealing book.

This book was incredibly well-researched. I'm fairly well-versed in the Edo period and fluent in Japanese, and I could find very few nits to pick. The author demonstrated such a broad grasp of Japanese history that I was
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Tokaido Road
by Lucia St. Clair Robson
The Tokaido Road is a break for Lucia St Clair Robson from her adventures in the American Revolution, and the American tragedy of the Trail of Tears. The Tokaido Road is a dynamic story showing the ideology of Feudal Japan. The complex characters and use of imagery, poetry, and art bring to life the noble Japanese spirit. I will add this as another in my collection to be placed with Memoires of a Geisha, Life of a Geisha, and the tale of Genji, the tale o
Apr 29, 2016 added it
I gave up on this half way through.. honestly it all started rather fascinating and stayed like that until page 120 and then I began to skim the pages. I think the main problem was my lack of general knowledge concering the history of feudal Japan. Also after reading some of the reviews on goodreads I found that I wasn't the only one struggling with the unwarranted length of this novel. One benefit came out of this: I will start reading some more books about this era in Japan. I really found it ...more
Lady Rebecca
Feb 03, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished it and instantly wanted to re-read it. Absolutely got lost in this one. You can smell the food, feel the cold, see the landscape, and hear the brass of the pilgrim bells. It's so well described without being excessive- this is probably one of the main reasons I enjoyed it so much. The character's journey along the road and within herself are well paced. It felt fresh and not a retelling of a standard heroine formula. The humor was spot on. The tension between characters and situations ...more
"The Tokaido Road" is, at first glance, a road trip wrapped around a tale of revenge . . . and a beautiful one, at that.

Lady Asano, nicknamed "Cat," is a gorgeous, refined daughter of a samurai lord who was betrayed and forced to commit suicide. We first meet Cat, who has been forced to work as a courtesan thanks to her family's disgrace, as she stares at a dead "client," who died eating a poisoned dish meant for her. Within moments, Cat uses her ingenuity to escape her brothel and begin her jou
May 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wonderful book. I learned about it because it received a high rating on Smart Bitches http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.co... but it took until almost the end for me to determine why it might be considered a romance novel.

Lady Asano, aka Cat, escapes her life as a courtesan and takes to the Tokaido road to travel to find her Sensei and seek his help in avenging her father's death. She is chased by her father's enemies and a ronin (former samarai) sent be the house where she worked. Along the w
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not sure what my fascination is with feudal or just slightly post-feudal Japan, but the Floating World is fascinating. In this story, the heroine Cat does more than float. She's well-trained in swordsmanship and in the duties of the daughter of a disgraced father. She undertakes her own vendetta and hurries along the Tokaido road in pursuit of Lord Kira who is responsible for her father's death. As in any road story, from Chaucer onward, the fellow travelers become the story. Some aim to prevent ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: didnt-finish
I like historical fiction, but I think this book just hasn't aged especially well. I'm usually all for description, but this book actually managed to be too granular in description of dress, setting, etc, even for me. The characters felt very distant- I couldn't really empathize with them, although they sometimes did interesting things.

You'd think the theme of a young woman impersonating a man to escape a brothel in order to avenge her father would be exciting, but the book seemed very slow pac
Marceline Smith
Aug 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, borrowed
This has been sitting around for ages but I finally read it and enjoyed it a lot; it’s a retelling of the famous 47 ronin tale of old Japan. It has clearly been meticulously researched for realism so it’s a nice look into Japanese customs as well as an epic tale. I wonder if they made it into a film.
Jonathan Lupa
Aug 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Things this book made me do:
1. Order a copy of Musashi's Five Rings.
2. Read poetry.
3. Not get any sleep until I finished.

This is an absolute joy to read... neither too thick, nor too thin. Well paced, in a wonderful setting.

Rebecca Huston
Sadly, this one I could not finish. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not get into this one.
Marty Nicholas
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Picked this up off the bargain table. Sat around for ages...Excellent, Well written, based on the 47 Ronin tale.
Kevin Fedigan
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
I loved the character of Cat/Lady Asano/Kinume. She proved to be a determined, resilient, and resourceful protagonist. I thought that Hanshiro would be Cat's enemy, leading to their meeting on the Tokaido, but I was pleasantly surprised that he turned out to be Cat's devoted ally and lover. The relationship between Cat and Kasane is strong, and Robson did a terrific job of developing their bond from an uneasy alliance to an unbreakable friendship. Robson's description of the scenery, towns, and ...more
May 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
I chose this book as part of my personal book challenge for May 2021 to read books featuring Asian Pacific Heritage themes but found it also fit two other book challenge prompts I’m doing: read a book starting with the letter “T” and a book featuring an historical event I knew little about. This book certainly included that. Based on a true event in the rule of the fifth Tokugawa shogunate (roughly a period lasting between 1688 to 1703), this is the tale of the avenging of the death Lord Asano T ...more
Megan Olsen
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
So many random things to say. In no particular order...

I was a little intimidated when I saw how long this book was (I listened to it, and the audiobook was 20 hours and change), and I went in wondering if it would drag. That was not the case. There are many suspenseful and interesting adventures going on, and one or another of these kept bringing me back. There was one place, about 70% through, where I got a little bored with their extended adventures on the road, but I also think I was a littl
Tom Johnson
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Tokaido Road by Lucia St Clair Robson. Promoted as a Japanese erotica and martial arts novel, I would question the claim of erotica, as it just wasn’t there. However, martial arts fans will enjoy all the action. This is feudal Japan, probably in the 1400s. When her father fails to bribe the official, Lord Kira correctly, he is removed and his name pulled from record. He commits suicide, which is the only thing left for him to do. However, his daughter wants his named revenged. Kinume Asano, ...more
Sky Reads
Feb 01, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overall Rating: Five Stars

The Tokaido Road is an exhilarating journey with excellent writing, lyrical poetry and engaging characters who never fail to deliver value to the stories’ thrilling adventure.

The historical backdrop for the story is utterly vivid and compelling. Every stop along the Tokaido Road was saturated with the unique cultural and religious details of the time, providing a gorgeous setting that lived and breathed as much as the book’s characters. The way in which people conveyed
Ryan Baxter
Oct 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
You know that one question you are so often asked: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is the one item you would choose to have with you? Call me crazy, but a copy of The Tokaido Road would be at the top of my list. Every book Lucia St Clair Robson has written is a gem, but The Tokaido Road is a brilliant-cut diamond. There are so many facets to this story and they all sparkle.

I can’t think of another work of fiction that has so drawn me into its world, that has so delighted me with
Sep 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2020
Retelling the classic story of the 47 ronin through Lord Asano's (newly invented) daughter, this historical novel was a pleasant surprise in many ways. The extensive research that went into writing this book is evident in the wealth of detail that enlivens the setting in feudal Japan, the protagonist who started out fairly unlikable (to me, at least) grew on me more and more over the course of her journey once she started forming relationships with her newly found companions, and I enjoyed the r ...more
Oct 19, 2022 rated it it was ok
Not for me.

This is a "road story" that plods.

A high-born courtesan escapes her pleasure house to avenge the political assassination of her father.
Lady Asano, "Cat" is our protagonist: beautiful, dainty, knows poetry/literature/art, is trained to use various weapons, has studied Zen Buddhist philosophy, gets the better of three samurai in battle, you get the drift, eye roll. So implausible as to be laughable. And she is impersonating a man, and her voice does not betray her? Puhlese.

This story do
4.5 stars
The perfect behemoth of a novel to end 2018. This is one of the best Japanese historical fiction books I have ever read. Even though it was a long, arduous journey I found myself interested in the story. It was incredibly well researched, and I love the poetry and romance interspersed throughout. I need to buy myself a copy of this for my library! The only thing I had a hard time getting past was that the protagonist's name was "Cat" - it didn't feel as authentic as "Lady Asano", "Oishi
Debra Gillespie
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've had this paperback for several years now and have read this novel numerous times; I really enjoy the mixture of drama, poetry, adventure and the learning of the everyday life of people in feudal Japan in the early 18th century. Although it is historic fiction, it is based on the true story of the 47 master-less samurai that successfully avenged the death of their lord, and then were arrested and committed ritual suicide. ...more
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Lucia St. Clair Robson has been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a teacher and a librarian. Her first historical novel, RIDE THE WIND, appeared on the New York Times best seller list, and in 1983 received the Golden Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. Since then she has written seven more novels set in a variety of times and places. Kirkus Reviews wrote, "Few novelists working today have a bet ...more

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