The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

Irene Gallo posted this picture of an origami tree on her blog yesterday. She said it is of 500 creatures flying about a dragon.

Isn’t it the most amazing origami Christmas tree you’ve seen? I was so happy Carl told me about it. I have two little origami trees in my own home. One is of cranes, and one is of little three dimensional prisms, but neither can compare to the beauty of this magnificent work.

Today has been a beautiful day of snowfall, with temperatures of around 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Now that is what I call a perfect day. After our dog took us for a walk, and I watched the first half of the Rose Bowl in which the fighting Illini were stomped on by the apparently better fighting Trojans of USC, I was finally able to finish The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama.

You may remember that this is part of the first place prize for the Japanese Literature Challenge. Now, the person who wins this won’t have the glorious moment of cracking the binding open because I have read it first, but I promise I took care with it. You can barely see the little smudge of chocolate on one page.

Similar to a Russian novel, it required some attention on my part to learn the names of the characters which seem like a string of consonants and very few vowels. But as this novel unfolded, I became quite familiar with each well developed person.

The story centers around two brothers, Hiroshi and Kenji, who are being brought up by their grandparents. Hiroshi’s dream is to become a champion sumo wrestler while Kenji dreams of creating the hand carved masks for Noh theater.

We follow their dreams and aspirations, their failures and successes, the people they meet and women they marry, throughout the novel. It transcends culture in that the themes are applicable to all of us: sorrow, achievement, death and fear. Yet it is not a book of despair by any means, rather one which I found empowering for overcoming the “little tricks life plays on us” as the author described.

I loved this book not only for its character development, and life lessons, but because Gail Tsukiyama has interspersed Japanese words throughout every page until I am so familiar with them I feel that I have a very small understanding of Japanese vocabulary.

I leave you with two quotes I found quite inspiring while reading this book:

“It’s through the hardships you endure that you’ll gain real strength.”


“Every day of your lives you must always be sure what you’re fighting for.”

Now we just have to determine what we’re fighting for ourselves. And, of course, see who wins this book.

21 thoughts on “The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

  1. I've been really enjoying the snow lately. It came during our Christmas break as an extra present for me to enjoy these past two weeks. Hopefully, we'll even have a snow day when school resumes!


  2. I guess if we're going to have extremes in weather I'll take 14 degress F. over 90 degrees any day. I abhor heat and humidity, and this October? We had 90 degree days up until Halloween!


  3. What a great picture. The tree is amazing. I can appreciate the time and effort that went into it.The books sounds like another good one. I'm about half way through my final book and it is completely different from the first two. Oh, I've been meaning to tell you that I love the new header. It's great.cjh


  4. CJ, I believe you're the first one to complete the Japanese Literature Challenge (or soon to be done). I'm looking forward to your last review. The snow pictures on YOUR blog are just beautiful.


  5. Susan, I wonder if your boss folds origami? I do little pieces with my class, and as prizes for them from time to time. They really seem to like it (almost as much as I do!).d. chadwick bryant, Winter is my favorite, too. Put your vote up in my poll so I'm not the only one! :)I've really been enjoying this Christmas break because we've had so much snow. By the way, I went to Macy's to get some L'Heure Bleu for my mother and the woman said it's probably not in production any more. What an idiot! You can get it online any day.


  6. I voted for winter. :<) I love your colors, the new picture, and the little poems. Such a lovely contrast sidebyside with the origami tree. What a great thing life is to offer such beauty.


  7. Yay! I guess you and I stand alone, Nan, in our utter appreciation of Winter. The gray background of the blog seems to make colors look very orange to me, but I do like the peaceful aspect to it. Your banner of icicles is quite beautiful. Tanabata also put up a banner with a beautiful icy branch.


  8. I do love winter best. And I'm not a snowboarder or snowmobiler. I occasionally snowshoe. But mostly, I just like it. It makes me calm. I do try to live in the other seasons as they come, but when winter comes, I go "ah, it is here." The only thing that takes away from its perfection is worry when my kids are on the roads. :<)


  9. "It makes me calm." That's EXACTLY how I feel! You hit the nail on the head with that one sentence. There's something so very peaceful about the white and freshness. Even when it turns a bit grey. Let me know if you ever find the secret to not worrying about one's kids.


  10. Hooray for winter! Gail Tsukiyama is such a smooth writer. I like your post because Tsukiyama is like the winter snows – there is the calm smooth surface, but there is so much happening underneath that a quick glance misses. Thanks Bellezza.


  11. Reader Kay, what a good analogy! I never thought about it that way before, but in a way, Japanese writing seems to fit with winter for exactly the reason you mentioned: a calm, smooth surface with a lot going on underneath. Great point!


  12. This sounds good. On to the wishlist it goes. I've only read The Samurai's Garden by Tsukiyama, it's about time to try another I think.As for the poll, I thought I already voted for winter but I'm not sure now. I was so so happy to see the snow during our New Year's holiday. 🙂


  13. Great post-I just read and posted on this work. I agree the characterization is very well done and we learn a lot about Japan in the years 1939 to 1965. I enjoyed learning about the art of Noh mask making and the life of an apprentice Sumo Wrestler. I think One Man's Justice by Akiza Yoshimura gives a great portrayal of life in Japan during the American occupation, from the Japanese point of view. I have linked to your review-I am looking forward to the Brother's Karamazov read along


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