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Publisher's Summary

Gail Tsukiyama's The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is a powerfully moving masterpiece about tradition and change, loss and renewal, and love and family from a glorious storyteller at the height of her powers.

It is Tokyo in 1939. On the Street of a Thousand Blossoms, two orphaned brothers dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows early signs of promise at the national obsession of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of Noh theater masks. But as the ripples of war spread to their quiet neighborhood, the brothers must put their dreams on hold - and forge their own paths in a new Japan.

Meanwhile, the two young daughters of a renowned sumo master find their lives increasingly intertwined with the fortunes of their father's star pupil, Hiroshi. 

©2007 Gail Tsukiyama (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC

Critic Reviews

"Gail Tsukiyama is a writer of astonishing grace, delicacy, and feeling. Her lyric precision serves not only to leave the reader breathless but to illuminate human suffering and redemption with clarity and power." (Michael Chabon)
"Well written and emotionally gripping." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Another great story from Ms. Tsukyama

Street of a Thousand Blossoms is the best Gail Tsukyama book I have read so far! Taking place in Tokyo prior to WWII, it follows the lives of two brothers raised by their grandparents as one becomes a Sumo champion and the other a famous artisan. Life in Japan leading up to, during the war and afterwards is brought to life in vivid detail through the lives of very well-developed characters. I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it highly to anyone who loves historical fiction - this is as good as it gets, I think.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Audio Book

This is a new author to me, so I was a bit hesitant at first. I'm glad I decided to listen, as it was very enjoyable.

Also, I noticed quite a few similarities between this audio book, and the movie "Letters from Iwo Jima". A bit interesting, simply because of the number of times I recognized something in common between both stories (which both took place during WWII).

A great listen if you haven't already purchased it!

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Vanilla, but beautiful vanilla

For evoking a sense of time and place and mood, I give this story 5 stars. It is beautifully written and very well read by the narrator. However, there really was no STORY or conflict or surprises. All the grandparents were sage and wise. All the parents were happily married. All the kids were good and succesful and followed their dreams. And any potentially messy plot points were neatly resolved with a kind word or two from someone, or a convenient outside event. As a mood study of Japan just before and after WWII, this book is very successful. As a story, it is not.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

pure joy

I love the interpersonal relationships that Gail creates. the emotions are so strong. The joys are also so strong.. excellent relaxing book to enjoy.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Expected to love this

This book has so many elements that I love, but somehow despite earnest trying, I couldn't get past the dreadful narration.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved the story

I really loved the story and the reading was really good too. I had been worried after reading some reviews that the Japanese pronunciations would be odd or bad but I was not bothered by them at all (but I not a native Japanese speaker so maybe that is why.). I really have enjoyed Gail Tsukiyama’s books and this did not disappoint!!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story!!!

Enjoyed the book and the narrator was excellent in delivering images to the theater of the mind! Was drawn in from the very beginning.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

I can’t recall a more disappointing book-reading experience. I rarely give up on books after the half-way point — so close to the end! just finish it! — but this was too torturous to finish.

Tsukiyama has a very distinctive writing style that will either appeal or not. In my case, it did not. What others may hear as minimal and beautifully unpretentious, in my ears was weak, flat and lifeless. So there was a fairly significant style problem right from the beginning.

I also hated that Japanese words were thrown into the story, but then explained… along the lines of: “She put on her kimono – a kind of traditional robe – and went outside”. This is an exaggerated example but definitely representative. It kept taking me out of the story and reminded me that this is a story about Japan, for non-Japanese, and there was something really irritating and irksome about that.

To describe the two protagonists, Hiroshi and Kenji, as characters is an undeserved compliment… they were actually caricatures. Hiroshi is a first-class sumo wrestler and Kenji is a first-class Noh theatre-mask master… two of the most stereotypical and impossibly niche career choices imaginable. I’m trying to imagine a story set in 1940’s Australia with one brother as a famous kangaroo wrangler and another as the architect of the Opera House. Actually that’s a bad example… that in fact sounds like a good book. I think this sounds like a petty criticism, but you’re just going to have to trust me – they seemed like caricatures. And I couldn’t decide if they were meant to represent some kind of fantasy parable of distilled Japanese culture, or if Tsukiyama was genuinely trying to tell an everyday story about a normal family but lazily reverted to recognizable typecasts.

It’s one thing to dislike a book, but another altogether to have high expectations that are then dashed. I really wanted to like this, as it was recommended in Japan (Lonely Planet Country Guide) as one-of-two novels to read before visiting Japan. The other recommended novel was Hiroshima Diary… I hope that’s more my scene.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Unique story.

A bit hard to follow, yet a wonderful listen. The actual plot was not certain to me yet the details of Japanese culture and interesting and nicely written. I will listen to this again. And am planning read more from Gail Tsukiyama.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Bad pronunciation

Proper pronunciation of Japanese words would have made the story telling better. Overall good story.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Vonny Milonny
  • 06-24-16

Can't recommend this enough!

Beautifully written and narrated wonderfully, I felt I'd been transported into the lives of the characters. Very sad at times, so sad in fact that I had to leave the story and return to it a little later on a couple of occasions. I've only just finished but miss it already.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ruan
  • 01-11-16

Loved it

A beautiful story. The characters are so rich with history and so vivid in description. If you are searching for a gripping slice of life story give this one a try.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Gianni D. Dean
  • 05-01-21

Good start but ultimately a waste of time

The idea of the book is very good but ultimately fails to deliver. The first part of the book is good and enjoyable but it soon becomes more and more elaborate and fanciful. I listened through to the end but ultimately was barely engaged with the storyline and it became far too ridiculous. I wouldn’t waste your time on this.