Set in the midst of samurai warfare in the mountainous region of Aizu in the late nineteenth century, the novel recounts the coming of age of the young peasant girl Okei, who falls desperately in love with the fierce warrior Sasanuma Kingo, only to discover that the world she inhabits has no place for such passion. Okei must learn to understand both the nature of her hidden feelings and the arcane codes and honour system of the samurai.
As the forces of the old Tokugawa order struggle to contain the imperialist army, Okei and the rest of her rural community find that exile to the New World may be their only remaining chance of survival. Capturing the character of a country in the throes of revolution and faced with the onset of modernity, Mitsugu Saotome’s masterful novel succeeds in blending vivid historical detail with a timeless tale of romance, self-discovery and growing up.
Read an excerpt from Okei