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Chapter 14 - The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is being celebrated this year between March 20 and April 14 in Washington DC. The festival commemorates the gift of approximately 3,000 cherry trees from the Mayor of Tokyo to the United States in 1912. You can find out the specific history of the gift here at

So this seems like a good time to introduce to you one of my favorite authors, Gail Tsukiyama. Born to a Chinese mother and Japanese father, Tsukiyama's books go between both worlds and explore Chinese and Japanese history. Here are some of her books I've really enjoyed.

Women of the Silk - This was Gail Tsukiyama's first book where she hooked me right from the start. The book takes place in rural China in 1926, where a group of women forge a bond among the deafening machines in a vast silk factory. The reader is introduced to Pei, a strong and resilient woman.

The Samurai's Garden - The story takes place during the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s. In it, a 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen is sent to his family's summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, the family's housekeeper and gardener. As Stephen regains his strength he learns much from Matsu, a former Samurai.

The Language of Threads - A followup to Women of the Silk as the protagonist, Pei, leaves the silk house for Hong Kong. After a few missteps she finds a home, only to lose it to war.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms - In 1939 Tokyo, two orphaned brothers grow up under the watchful eyes of loving grandparents who encourage them in traditional pursuits. Hiroshi, has skill and interest in the tradition of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of creating hard-carved masks for actors in the Noh theater. This family saga follows the changes which take place in the worlds of these two brothers.

So here are other books of Tsukiyama's which I haven't read but based on her others, I am sure they are good.

Night of Many Dreams - The story is about two sisters who leave their life in Hong Kong during the war and go to Macao. When they return home, they part ways but find out how bonded they really are.

Dreaming Water - A mother/daughter story where Hanna, has Werner's syndrome which makes her age twice the rate of normal, and Cate, her mother try to make sense of all the challenges they collectively and individually face.

A Hundred Flowers - Tsukiyama explores Mao's 1957 Cultural Revolution in this novel. This is another novel of ordinary people trying to survive in extraordinary circumstances.

Have you read any Gail Tsukiyama? Have you been to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC? Please let me know!

You may order these or other books at

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