Genre of book
The book starts in a suburb of Toyko in 1939. Two boys who have been orphaned are living with their grandparents. Their grandparents love their grandsons and want them to find their passions. The elder brother, Hiroshi is becoming quite good at the national obsession, sumo wrestling. Just as the war starts he is accepted for training at a facilty run by Sho Tanaka. The younger brother is more creative and interested in carving masks for the Non theater.
World War II intervenes. Tsukiyama paints such a vivid picture of the war years in this suburb; the shortages, starvation, home front police bullies and the awful air raids. Each of the brothers is affected. Hiroshi's training is stopped or rather never really starts and Kenji's sensei or master eventually disappears.
This book covers a span of about thirty years. It deals with both the war and the occupation and finally the Americans leaving Japan. It deals with the brothers and the growth of their passions and their search for how they fit into the traditional Japan and the post war modern Japan. The brothers and their loves, their sorrows and joys and triumphs are very well portrayed and brought to life.
I loved this book and the way Tsukiyama described life. It felt so real. The way of life for sumo wrestlers and the traditions and amount of work involved in the Non mask carving were extremely interesting.
First Line: "A white light seeped through the shoji windows and into the room, along with the morning chill."