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The Street of a Thousand Blossoms
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Manufacturer: St. Martin's Press
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Hardcover
Dewey Decimal Number: 813.54
EAN: 9780312274825
ISBN: 0312274823
Label: St. Martin's Press
Manufacturer: St. Martin's Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 432
Publication Date: 2007-09-04
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: 2007-09-04
Studio: St. Martin's Press

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Editorial Reviews:

“Just remember,” Yoshio said quietly to his grandsons. “Every day of your lives, you must always be sure what you’re fighting for.”


It is Tokyo in 1939. On the Street of a Thousand Blossoms, two orphaned brothers are growing up with their loving grandparents, who inspire them to dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows unusual skill at the national obsession of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of creating hard-carved masks for actors in the Noh theater.

Across town, a renowned sumo master, Sho Tanaka, lives with his wife and their two young daughters: the delicate, daydreaming Aki and her independent sister, Haru. Life seems full of promise as Kenji begins an informal apprenticeship with the most famous mask-maker in Japan and Hiroshi receives a coveted invitation to train with Tanaka. But then Pearl Harbor changes everything. As the ripples of war spread to both families’ quiet neighborhoods, all of the generations must put their dreams on hold---and then find their way in a new Japan.

In an exquisitely moving story that spans almost thirty years, Gail Tsukiyama draws us irresistibly into the world of the brothers and the women who love them. It is a world of tradition and change, of heartbreaking loss and surprising hope, and of the impact of events beyond their control on ordinary, decent men and women. Above all, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is a masterpiece about love and family from a glorious storyteller at the height of her powers.

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Ambitious but Flawed
Comment: It is clear what Gail Tsukiyama wants to communicate in her newest novel, "The Street of a Thousand Blossoms." The book strives to convey love, loss, coming-of-age, the horrors of war, the rebuilding of a nation--and throw in a little instruction in Japanese culture to boot.

Spanning more than thirty years immediately before, during, and after World War II, "Blossoms" follows the lives of the residents of Yanaka, a suburb of Tokyo. It finds its main characters in Hiroshi and Kenji Matsumoto, two young boys taken in by their grandparents after the death of their mother and father, and quickly expands to chronicle the lives of those around them: their grandparents, the sumo coach who nurtures Hiroshi's burgeoning talent, the mask maker who draws the quiet Kenji into the world of the theatre. The novel's subject is nothing less than the breadth and scope of these people's entire lives.

Clearly, then, the characters should be the story's driving force. But this is where the book stumbles. The characters feel a little too controlled, as if Tsukiyama does not trust them to tell their own story. She is too ready to describe feelings and frame dialogue in terms of platitudes and expected turns--a shame, because she has a wonderful gift for simile and metaphor. She is capable of beautiful, evocative choices of words, which makes it all the more disappointing that she so often relies on old saws. Meanwhile, her characters, once in a great while, say or do something truly unexpected, and thus freed, they transform into the most convincing human beings. If these moments, scattered throughout the book, were more common, Tsukiyama might have truly achieved the depth she seems to seek.

Instead, the thinness of her presentation creates the sense that the characters and story are subservient to the themes she wants to portray. The narration is given to fits of exposition that tell in a paragraph exactly how a character is feeling or what happens to them after a certain event, a too-pat approach that causes parts of the novel to feel rushed even though it's more than 400 pages long.

Alternatives suggest a reading list: those interested in the history of Japan after World War II should read John Dower's Embracing Defeat, to which Tsukiyama acknowledges a debt for this novel. Those seeking a novel about the changing Japan of this era should consider Junichiro Tanizaki's The Makioka Sisters. And readers simply new to Tsukiyama's work should read The Samurai's Garden instead.

"Blossoms" by no means fails miserably; it is reasonably entertaining. But it's hard to recommend a book when the best thing you can say about it is that worse has been written. Tsukiyama seems to be grasping at timelessness here, but she would have done well to let it arise from the more intimate, character-driven storytelling at which she excels.


Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: A beautiful yet sad story
Comment: I love this writers work. This was a very wonderful story but very sad. I enjoy the poetic way Gail Tsukiyama writes and have enjoyed all of her work. I gave this one 4 stars because it dragged in parts and I wanted to hear more about the No masks and theatre. The writing style kept me turning the pages.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Educational, But Hard to Get Through
Comment: Our CHATTER Reading Group reads literary works of fiction and nonfiction. Based largely on the 4.5-star rating other Amazon.com readers had given it, we read and discussed "Street of a Thousand Blossoms". Knowing that everyone else had rated this book on average 4.5 stars, it was difficult for us to go against the grain. We even discussed WHY others might have liked it so much. Certainly, it was interesting to consider Japan during the WWII period and realize that the "enemy" of the U.S. is a country made up of people just like us and that they suffered.

Also, if asked ahead of time, "How would you like to read a book about Sumo Wrestling?", we certainly would have said, "No, thanks." Yet, it was also extremely interesting to read about this sport, admittedly previously unknown to us. The same goes for Noh Mask Artistry. I researched and shared photographs of masks and information about how they are made with the group. We also shared a sumo wrestling video. So, again, this book gets points for its educational aspects, which lead to a very interesting book club discussion.

Our group thought it was necessary to include our opinion of the book as a warning to the uninformed reader who might think, "this must be a real page-turner with reviews like that!" The writing style felt predictable and left us wondering about a few things (such as, why include that bit about Aki catching the caretaker in the middle of the night - what was the purpose of that?) After a slow beginning, the book did pick up a little. But, quite frankly, if it had not been a reading group book, it would have been hard for us to get all the way to the end before giving up (some members didn't even make it that far).

This book was voted an average of 3 stars by the 6 reading group members who finished reading it.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Wrestling Made Beautiful By Tsukiyama
Comment: Street of A Thousand Blossoms is an epic work spanning the pre and post war years in Japan. History comes to life through the everyday struggles of ordinary people trying to cope with the destruction,deprivation and misery of war.The topics of sumo wrestling and mask making at first did not appeal to me ,but in the deft hands of Tsukiyama I was drawn in and won over.It occurred to me that these two topics offer wonderful analogies to the many themes running though the novel. Sumo wrestling represents strength and honor...... attributes of the main characters......Hiroshi, Haru,Kenji and the nurturing grandparents, Yoshio and Fumiko.......... Mask making provides a cover for the realities of war........as well as a cover for the truths that are so difficult to cope with in the main characters......the mangled hand of Haru , the unrealized true nature of the mask maker, Yoshiwara,the heartbreaking guilt of Aki,and the unattainable love of Haru for Hiroshi.......Tsukiyama has a way of telling a story that draws you in and holds you there and forever changes the way you think afterwards.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Her best yet
Comment: I was surprised that another commentator preferred this to The Samurai's Garden. That book was only about a 3 star book to me but it was written 13 years before this book and it was her debut. I can see how she has grown and matured as a writer and she is at the top of her game right now.

This book is absolutely superb. My Japanese husband also read it and loved it. Time and again we had to go to the internet to look up places and events depicted in the book. If you don't have a burning to desire to go to a Noh performance then you haven't read the book yet! I can't wait for her next book!

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