Draws on more than eight hundred letters to recount the tragic romantic relationship between an ambitious British army officer and a Japanese woman, who fell in love on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War and defied conventions and the challenges of numerous military conflicts to remain in touch. 35,000 first printing.
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This is the true story of an extraordinary love affair that began when a young British Army officer fell for a Japanese woman in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1904, Arthur Hart-Synnot was sent to Japan to learn the language of his country's new ally. At least five generations of the Hart family had served in the British Army, and the ambitious young officer expected to keep up the tradition. Arriving in Tokyo on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War, Arthur met Masa Suzuki at the Officers' Club and was immediately smitten. Masa had grown up among shopkeepers and craftsmen in the working-class section of Tokyo. She had left school at age fourteen to work in a shop and was a dutiful Japanese daughter-when helping her mother serve meals, she would kneel at a respectful distance while her father and brothers ate. But her feelings for Arthur were so powerful that she was willing to risk her family's disapproval to be with him.
Covering a forty-year period, Sword and Blossom follows Arthur and Masa's attempts to make a life together and chronicles the racial prejudice and social snobbery they encountered. Separated for years at a time, they stayed in touch through long, deeply affectionate letters that they wrote to each other in Japanese. The authors use this treasure trove of more than eight hundred letters to describe an extraordinary story of enduring love and great loss.
Arthur and Masa's love story is set against the wider history of their two countries, in an era when Japan was emerging as a world power. It moves between the dusty, rickshaw-filled streets of Tokyo and the beech woods of Arthur's family estate in Ireland, and from the temples of Kyoto to the mud of Ypres and the horrors of the Great War. Their doomed relationship, like that of their two countries, was part of a confused age of extremes and contradictions, of violence and beauty, and of destinies etched out amid the conflicts of the first half of the twentieth century.About the Author:
Peter Pagnamenta is a writer and documentary maker. He first went to Japan in 1975 and has been returning ever since to make programs for British television. He produced and wrote the eight-hour series Nippon, an archive and testimony history of Japan since 1945. Major historical programs for the BBC include the award-winning People's Century, a twenty-six-part television history of the twentieth century coproduced with WGBH Boston for which he was the BBC executive producer and scriptwriter. He was also editor of the British current affairs series Panorama.
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