PageTurners Read “The Samurai’s Garden”

The Samurai’s Garden
Gail Tsukiyama
The daughter of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, Tsukiyama uses the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s as a somber backdrop for her unusual story about a 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family’s summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener. Over the course of a remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu’s secret and gains not only physical strength, but also profound spiritual insight. Matsu is a samurai of the soul, a man devoted to doing good and finding beauty in a cruel and arbitrary world, and Stephen is a noble student, learning to appreciate Matsu’s generous and nurturing way of life and to love Matsu’s soulmate, gentle Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.

The PageTurners Book Club met on Thursday, April 12, at 6 pm in the Bottom Shelf Room at the Rice Lake Public Library. Seven people attended the discussion. The general consensus about the book was that it was well written and lyrical. The average score awarded to this book was  out of 5 books; the lowest score was a 4 / 5 and the highest score 4.5 / 5.

Click on the book graphic below to see a full recap of book club members’ opinions.


The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama is available at the Rice Lake Public Library. There over ten copies of this book in the MORE System. Please visit the card catalog website or call us at 234-4861 to reserve a copy today.

The PageTurners Book Club is sponsored by the Friends of the Rice Lake Public Library. It usually meets on the first Thursday of each month at 6 pm at the Rice Lake Public Library. Discussion lasts an hour; everyone is welcome.


December 7th, 1941-A Day That Will Live Infamy

In remembrance of December 7th, here is a list of films to watch.

The Final Countdown (1980) Rated PG

When an electrical storm transports the nuclear-powered U.S.S. Nimitz back in time, hours before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the crew must decide between allowing the attack to take place and preventing it, which would forever change history.

From Here to Eternity (1953) Rated NR

Drama about life in the Army in the days prior to World War II. Private Prewitt is a soldier and former boxer being manipulated by his superior and peers. His friend Maggio tries to help him but has his own troubles. Sergeant Warden and Karen Holmes tread on dangerous ground as lovers in an illicit affair. Each of their lives will be changed when their stories culminate on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

In Harm’s Way (1965) Rated NR

Epic treatment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the attack on the naval base.

Pearl Harbor (2001) Rated PG-13

Two childhood best friends, Rafe and Danny, grow up wanting to fly planes. When Rafe gets the chance to join the Royal Air Force during World War II, he takes it, leaving his new love, Evelyn, a dedicated Navy nurse, and Danny, also a pilot, behind. Danny and Evelyn are transferred separately to the idyllic paradise of Hawaii, where they eventually meet through a connection to Rafe, who has been declared missing. But just as the love triangle begins to get complicated, Dec. 7, 1941 arrives, changing all of their lives forever.

Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) Rated G

A dramatization which chronicles the bombing of Pearl Harbor from both the Japanese and American points of view.

Honorable Mention: The Winds Of War (1983) Rated NR

Set against the backdrop of world events that led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Naval officer, Victor “Pug” Henry, and his family learn to navigate the waters of dangerous times in the late 1930s. While Germany expands and proceeds to seize several border countries, Italy attempts to establish a Fascist Colonial Empire under Mussolini and Japan prepares for a major battle with China. Meanwhile, the Henry clan finds itself drawn into the center of the conflict as they deal with the drama, romance, tragedy and heroism that lead to America’s involvement in World War II.

Japanese Films

Hidden Fortress (1958) Rated UR

A princess must escape across enemy lines with the royal treasure, guarded only by a loyal general and two greedy peasants.

Kwaidan (1965) Rated UR

Consists of four stories of the supernatural based on Japanese folk material. In The black hair, a poor young samurai leaves his first wife to marry a rich woman. When he is unhappy in his second marriage, he returns to his first wife, who at first appears unchanged from when he last saw her. In The woman of the snow, a woodcutter is spared by a mysterious ghost-like woman in the snow, but must promise never to tell anyone what he has seen. In Hoichi, the earless, a blind musician-monk named Hoichi is commanded by a gathering of ghosts to sing the saga of their ancient deeds. The head monk paints Hoichi’s body with prayer verses to protect him, but unfortunately overlooks Hoichi’s ears. In In a cup of tea, a writer wonders what would happen to a person who drinks another’s soul and finds out.

Ran (1985) Rated R

In 16th century Japan, an aging ruler attempts to divide his kingdom among his three sons. They turn against each other and betray their father, triggering events that ultimately shatter the kingdom, destroy the family, and drive their father insane. Based on Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Rashomon (1950) Rated UR

Set in 12th-century Japan, the nature of truth and subjective reality are probed in a series of flashbacks from four viewpoints to present the case history of a man’s murder and the rape of his wife by a bandit.

Seven Samurai (1954) Rated UR

A 16th century Japanese village hires professional warriors to fend off bandits. When the samurai arrive, a spectacular series of battles begins.

Current Events : Japan

Japan suffered a 8.9 / 9.0 magnitude earthquake on Friday, March 11, 2011. It struck off the northeastern coast of the main Japanese island, Honshu, and about 100 miles from the large port city of Sendai. Within half an hour of the earthquake, a powerful tsunami washed ashore and destroyed most everything in its path for several miles before carrying thousands of people out to sea. Current estimates of missing and dead range from 2,000 to over 10,000. Dozens of aftershocks with magnitudes over 6.0 have shaken Japan as the country attempts to recover. Search and rescue activities and relief services have been complicated by radioactive dangers from damaged nuclear power plants along the coast.

Rice Lake, WI, has a sister city in Miharu, Japan. Miharu is about 50 miles away from the Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. The city appears to be hosting survivors from surrounding areas in shelters.


Visit this website : ESRI Geographic Solutions to learn more about where the earthquake and aftershocks have struck.

Visit this website : US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Program to learn more about earthquakes.

Visit this website : to learn about tsunamis.

Visit this website : Scientific American to learn about nuclear meltdowns.

If you are interested in donating to help the people of Japan, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are reputable organizations currently working in Japan. If other organizations approach you for help during this crisis, be cautious and check their credentials at Better Business Bureau Charities. (Over 300 cases of fraud were reported after the earthquake in Haiti as unscrupulous people attempt to profit off of disasters.) This article at PC Mag lists additional ways to help.

To learn more about Japan and its history, consider checking these and other books out from your local MORE library:


Anime Films

Love anime: here’ s a list of anime films that made it to the big and little screens.

Bleach (2004) Rated T

“For as long as he can remember, Ichigo Kurosaki has been able to see ghosts. But when he meets Rukia, a Soul Reaper who battles evil spirits known as Hollows, he finds his life changed forever. Now with a newfound wealth of spiritual energy, Ichigo discovers his true calling: to protect the living and the dead from evil. And when he vows to defend Rukia from the ruthless justice of the Soul Society, he and his friends must cross over and do battle in the spirit world….”

Castle of Cagliostro (1980) Rated NR

“Master thief Lupin III, a.k.a. ‘The Wolf,’ and his right-hand gunman Jigen are hot on the trail of a double-crossing counterfeiter. But when their search leads them to the secluded European country of Cagliostro, they find far more than they bargained for. Lupin unwittingly attracts the attention of the nation’s mysterious monarch when he tries to help a damsel in distress escape the Count’s henchmen, and in the process stumbles upon the key to finding the lost fortune of the Cagliostro clan.”

Paprika (2006) Rated R

A revolutionary machine has been built that allows scientists to enter and record a subject’s dream. After the machine is stolen, a fearless detective and brilliant therapist join forces to recover the device before it falls into the hands of a “dream terrorist.”

Rurouni Kenshin (1997) Rated NR

Set in Meiji-era Japan, where the samurai have been largely disarmed, this series features Kenshin, a wandering swordsman. First saga: Seeking to restore the reputation of her fencing school, Kaoru looks for a vicious murderer and encounters Kenshin. She offers the wanderer sanctuary–and Kenshin becomes invaluable when the killer comes looking for her. Second saga: Kaoru’s school has been vindicated, but the students aren’t coming back. Kaoru and Kenshin encounter Yahiko, who has been reduced to pickpocketing to repay a yakuza syndicate for his late mother’s medical bills. The two decide to help. Third saga: Police officers storm the school looking for Kenshin, who is busy helping townsfolk being bullied and murdered by the corrupt police force. Fourth saga: Sanosuke challenges Kenshin to a fight he cannot refuse.

World of Hans Christian Andersen (2004) Rated NR

Produced in Japan, this full-length animated feature relates the story of a young Hans Christian Andersen, and tells of his efforts to help out his cash-strapped shoemaker father. The story incorporates elements of two classic Andersen fables, and makes use of many wondrous characters, places and situations. Beautifully produced, this delightful film will appeal not just to anime enthusiasts, but to broad general audiences as well.