Cover image for Riding the east wind
Riding the east wind
Kaga, Otohiko, 1929-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Ikari no nai fune. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
Tokyo ; New York : Kodansha, 1999.
Physical Description:
518 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
"...adaptation with abridgements made with the author's permission, of the Japanese novel published by Kodansha Ltd. in 1982 under the title Ikari no nai fune."--T.p. verso.

Based on the true story of Kurusu Saburō, a Japanese ambassador to America.
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A Japanese-American pilot in the days before Pearl Harbor is the hero of this novel which illuminates the tensions between the U.S. and Japan as war between them became inevitable. The hero, Ken Kurushima, is torn by his loyalty to both countries.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Otohiko's wartime family saga expresses all the heartbreak and wicked irony that one might expect from the genre. It is, however, different in that it is told from the point of view of the family of a Japanese diplomat, one whose wife is American and whose children, naturally, are of mixed race. The family of Saburo Kurushima has lived wherever in the world his diplomatic career has taken him, but the children, in spite of their American mother and appearance, consider themselves Japanese. The oldest, Ken, is an officer in the Japanese Army Air Corps. Their story is one of loyalty, the deprivations of war, and the fear and prejudice that results from their Caucasian appearance. The tone of the novel is gentle and nostalgic, but the point that the author is making, that of the futility and waste of war, is never in doubt. This is the first translation into English of a novel of this award-winning Japanese author and is likely to find a following here as well. --Danise Hoover

Publisher's Weekly Review

The diplomatic intricacies of Japanese-American relations on the eve of Pearl Harbor and the terrible conflicts faced by a Japanese army pilot who is half-American are the rich material of bestselling Japanese author Kaga's compelling English-language debut. First published in Japan in 1982, and based on actual events and people whose names have been changed, the story focuses on the Kurushima family: Saburo, a pro-American Japanese diplomat sent to the U.S. to broker a last-minute peace agreement; his American wife, Alice, who genuinely loves her husband's native land; and their only son, Ken, an aviation engineer who becomes a pilot. Through Saburo, Kaga skillfully reveals the friction between the Japanese military command, who were eager to start a war with America, and the Japanese diplomats who felt their country could not win such a confrontation. Reproducing authentic communiqu‚s between the two countries, the author evokes the mounting tensions that climaxed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, with the unsuspecting Saburo learning of his country's horrific actions from an irate U.S. secretary of state. The rigors of military conflict are detailed in the second half of the book, which follows Ken's transformation from an idealistic technician who dreams of designing and flying a superior plane to a resigned soldier who fights for his country despite knowing it is a losing battle. Ken's double allegiance torments him, adding intrigue to the fast-moving plot. Kaga reveals fascinating information about Japan's difficulties with ill-made aircraft, inadequate production facilities and an antiquated approach to aviation and military strategy. Although Levy's translation is sometimes stilted (particularly in rendering dialogue), the book delivers a powerful message about the consequences of war. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Saburo Kurusu was the Japanese special envoy who delivered Japan's "final offer" to U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull--after the attack on Pearl Harbor had begun. American historians have argued that Kurusu's mission was to stall America while the Japanese prepared for the attack. Now in this Tanizaki Prize-winning novel, Kaga contends that Kurusu (called "Kurushima" here), a pacifist with an American wife, believed that peace was possible but was manipulated by the Japanese high command. Although told on an epic scale uncharacteristic of modern Japanese fiction, the novel does deal with the classically postwar Japanese themes of duty and loyalty. Most readers know what will happen, but they will still be gripped by the political intrigue and tales of the ongoing war. Written in 1982, this is Kaga's first novel to be translated into English--and a wonderful translation it is. A welcome addition to World War II literature; recommended for larger fiction collections and anywhere historical fiction is in demand.--Tom Cooper, St. Louis P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.