Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back (Paperback)

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Three young Japanese girls of the Meiji era are chosen by their empress to learn the strange ways of Gilded Age America, only to return after ten years to a home they no longer know--“other to everyone except each other.” Such are the incredible lives of Sutematsu, Shige and Ume, lived on the cusp of modernity, witnessing the collision of East and West, tradition and progress, history and the future. A great nonfiction summer read--the perfect blend of history, culture, and women’s studies.

— From Daughters of the Samurai (Janice P. Nimura)


In 1871, five young girls were sent by the Japanese government to the United States. Their mission: learn Western ways and return to help nurture a new generation of enlightened men to lead Japan.

Raised in traditional samurai households during the turmoil of civil war, three of these unusual ambassadors--Sutematsu Yamakawa, Shige Nagai, and Ume Tsuda--grew up as typical American schoolgirls. Upon their arrival in San Francisco they became celebrities, their travels and traditional clothing exclaimed over by newspapers across the nation. As they learned English and Western customs, their American friends grew to love them for their high spirits and intellectual brilliance.

The passionate relationships they formed reveal an intimate world of cross-cultural fascination and connection. Ten years later, they returned to Japan--a land grown foreign to them--determined to revolutionize women's education.

Based on in-depth archival research in Japan and in the United States, including decades of letters from between the three women and their American host families, Daughters of the Samurai is beautifully, cinematically written, a fascinating lens through which to view an extraordinary historical moment.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393352788
ISBN-10: 0393352781
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 17th, 2016
Pages: 352
Language: English