The Opening of Japan to the World
In Japan, at the age of 13, Hikoraro lost his mother and became an orphan. His stepfather gave him the choice of continuing school or become a sailor of his ship. Though he knew that his mother wanted more for him, he chose sailing.
Out on his first trip, there is a huge storm and the ship becomes lost and immobile at sea. Luckily an American vessel comes upon the ship and rescues all of its occupants. Eventually they sail to San Francisco. The story then goes on to how the castaways keep trying to make their way back to Japan and what happens to them, including Hikoraro.
This is the story about both the castaways and how Japan finally opens up to American and the world. It is also the story about Hikoraro and how he became caught up between two worlds, Japan and America.
Though I found the historical aspect of this book fascinating, the story of the castaways’ fell flat for me. There was no emotional depth to any of these characters, and while I was concerned about what would happen to them, I kept reading because of the history. This my be in part because of how the book was translated, but I’m more inclined to believe that it was because Yoshimura chose to use very little dialogue.
Besides the problem with the characters, I also found parts of this book to be quite repetitive. I think that much more editing and polishing was needed.
Non the less, I found this book worthwhile and do recommend it for those who are interested in the opening of Japan.
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