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The Samurai's Daughter    by Sujata Massey order for
Samurai's Daughter
by Sujata Massey
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Nina de Angeli

Japanese American antiques dealer Rei Shimura pays a rare visit to her parents at their home in San Francisco, only to leave for her usual haunts in Tokyo after quarreling with her father. Her research into the family's samurai history apparently has raised a touchy issue. Why does Dr. Shimura keep his ancestral samurai sword hidden away in the bedroom, instead of
isplaying it proudly? Why did he sell a family heirloom, a scroll signed by Emperor Hirohito? The sword, once worshiped as a sacred relic by the family, symbolizes both a proud past and a contemporary conflict, reflecting the age-old contradiction in Japan's social values represented by the chrysanthemum and the sword. Rei prefers the lovely furniture, fabrics, and ceramic art of Japan's past to the military tradition of her ancestor.

Meanwhile, Rei and her Scottish friend Hugh investigate mysterious attacks on Filipino survivors of wartime Japan's military atrocities, needed as witnesses for Hugh's law firm's reparations suit against a wealthy and powerful Japanese firm. Rei's personal feelings about the case swing back and forth between her love of the art and beauty in Japan's cultural history, and the uneasy knowledge that imperialism, cruelty, and violence were part of a military tradition touching her father's family. A sleazy old boy friend, a slick corporate attorney, and a radical student group of militant imperialists add to the confusing mix of plots and suspects.

As usual in this series, Massey skillfully conveys the nuances of Rei's outsider status and her love of Japanese culture, while revealing fascinating details about life in Japan, the latest trends as well as historic and cultural background. From a family New Year's dinner to the swinging night life, this book gave me the feeling of visiting Tokyo myself

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