Book Review: A memoir of the End of the War and Beginning of Peace by Tei Fujiwara

TEI

Synopsis from the back cover:

Almost seventy years ago, in a nation devastated by World War II,  Tei Fujiwara wrote her memoir 流れる星は生きている (Nagareru Hoshiwa Ikiteiru) about her harrowing journey home with her three young children. But the story of her story is what every reader needs to know.
Tei’s memoir begins in August 1945 in Manchuria. At that time, Tei and her family fled from the invading Soviets who declared war on Japan a few days after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. After reaching her home in Japan, Tei wrote what she thought would be a last testament to her young children, who wouldn’t remember their journey and who might be comforted by their mother’s words as they faced an unknown future in post-war Japan.
But several miracles took place after she wrote the memoir. Tei survived and her memoir, originally published in Showa Era 24 [1949] became a best seller in a country still in ruins. Over the following decades, millions of Japanese became familiar with her story through forty-six print runs, the movie version, and a television drama. To understand the war experience, Empress Michiko urged young Japanese to read Tei’s story.
Now English readers will have the chance to read her amazing story of survival and hope, and understand how she influenced an entire generation and a nation
Tei Fujiwwara was born in Japan in 1918 and moved with her family to Manchuria, China in 1943.  As of the printing of this English translation, she is 96 years old and living in a senior home in Tokyo, Japan.

My Review:

When I first received the book, it was hard for me to begin reading it for many reasons.   Knowing what the Japanese has done to the Chinese, Korean and Russian before/during WWII, I did not know if I would have any sympathies for the reverse position.  Tei was fleeing from Manchuria where the Japanese would immigrate to get a higher social or financial status, also Manchuria was where all the “research experiments” took place (Unit 731).   WWII lasted six years why would she settle and have three children in a place where three countries were constantly fighting over.   However, I understand that this is more about a journey how a normal civilian or more importantly a mother taking her three young children from Manchuria back to Japan after the war.

Yes, I know she has been through a lot to get back to her home town especially with the children without a husband or much money did not make it easier, but she was quite lucky compare to the other refugees.  .The Japanese Association was giving out free rice per person for ten months and free medical exams, and she got to stay in Sensen for a year instead of moving from places to places.  Some people helped her with the children and lent her money for oxen chart during the hikiage.  She did not have to leave Keijo or Giseifu so soon though, she could have let her feet heal and the diarrhea to go away first.

I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would have.  I like how the memoir is greatly separated by chapters and get to the point without any drags.  Also, the map Tei  provided was very helpful.  I wish the readers would get to know more about what had happened to the husband after he was taken away and the other people from the dan at the end.

Thank you, Nana V. Mizushima, for translating and introducing this memoir to the English readers.

4 out of 5 stars

Received a free copy through Goodreads First Read program in exchange for an honest review.

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