Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book Review for Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi

by Keith Yatsuhashi

Reviewed by:Tonya
Published: Musa Publishing
                      Gene:Young Adult Fantasy

About Book

When eighteen-year-old Keiko Yamada’s father dies unexpectedly, he leaves behind a one way ticket to Japan, an unintelligible death poem about powerful Japanese spirits and their gigantic, beast-like Guardians, and the cryptic words: “Go to Japan in my place. Find the Gate. My camera will show you the way.” 

Alone and afraid, Keiko travels to Tokyo, determined to fulfill her father’s dying wish. There, beneath glittering neon signs, her father’s death poem comes to life. Ancient spirits spring from the shadows. Chaos envelops the city, and as Keiko flees its burning streets, her guide, the beautiful Yui Akiko, makes a stunning confession--that she, Yui, is one of a handful of spirits left behind to defend the world against the most powerful among them: a once noble spirit now insane. Keiko must decide if she will honor her father’s heritage and take her rightful place among the gods.

My Thoughts

First I want to say I was thrilled to read this book, it allowed me to go into a world I have never been but always wanted to go. To see Japan through the eyes of the author through this story was so amazing. I found myself stopping often to Google different things, words, phrases, places within the story which allowed me to learn so much more about Japan, what a beautiful place, what beautiful people.

For example I had never heard of Torii Gates before, so when I looked it up I learned that this is a traditional Japanese gate most commonly found at the entrance of or within a Shinto shrine (where they keep sacred objects) and it symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred. The oldest existing is from the 12th century and the earliest mentioned was in 922. And one of the most famous is at the Itsukushima Shrine (Japanese: 厳島神社 Itsukushima-jinja) on the island of Itsukushima (aka Miyajima) and is best known for its “floating” torii gate. It is in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Japanese government has designated several buildings and possessions as National Treasures.

I also learned that a Jisei is a Japanese death poem written near the time of ones own death, some are written like a haiku and usually done by literate people. Many cultures practice this. In the story Yui says they belong to the Samurai something I have always been fascinated with ever since watching Tom Cruise in “The Last Samurai”.

So for me I found this book among many things, educational for me, allowing me a look into another country, another lifestyle, another place. I found it so very interesting.

More so was the introduction to Keiko and Yui and how right away you sense that Keiko is destined for something great. That her father knew this and has sent her on a journey that was written cryptically within his jisei to her. And that somehow Yui is there to aid her on this journey or to protect her. Because protect is what she does when they are attacked in the subway by a powerful dragon, one of two. The things Keiko saw prior to the attack were so well described I felt like I was clearly seeing them.

You learn early on there are forces much greater than we see with our own eyes going on in this story. I mean red and blue dragons that shoot fire and ice wow and powerful people who are considered “Watashi wa Kami desu” which translates to “I am the god” this is what Yui and her father are, who is older than the world. There are protectors around the world that protect gates that have held for millions of years but are now weakening. And now they have to come together to fight to save to survive.

Keiko learns fast who and what she is, she has to learn to control elements what it means to be a guardian, to protect, to fight, to survive against a powerful spirit who wants nothing but complete control and power. The author does a fabulous job of spinning this story from Japan to America, from a Japanese girl who was born and raised in America with no true knowledge of Japanese customs and history. To Yui who liked to tell things when she saw fit, lol, she was a spitfire for sure, I really liked her. I love how the author could tell the story from so many different perspectives, multiple points of view throughout this book but at no time did I ever feel lost or confused. 

Oh and I really loved that Florida played a part in this story since well that is where I am from :) I loved this book from start to finish, the action, the history, learning so many new things about such a beautiful country, just everything about the book captured me and kept me wanting more. I can’t wait to read more from this author.