*** Daughters of the Samurai by Janice Nimura

In 1871, as part of the Meiji-era modernization of Japan, five girls between 6 and 14 were put on a ship bound to San Francisco, from which they would eventually travel to the East Coast to study and live in the United States, and stay there for ten years for the three youngest ones, long enough for them to speak perfect English, graduate from high school or college, and forget most of the Japanese they knew, at least for the youngest. The goal was for them to return to Japan to teach new generations of women about the ways of the West, but by the time they returned, the vogue for everything Western had cooled, and their positions as women did not exactly encourage them to create schools. Still, all three participated, to some degree, in educating girls and Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back tells their amazing story by relying on letters and archives, but with a lively tone and tempo so the book reads like a novel. It’s fascinating and makes you wonder about the strength of character they displayed as children and teens.


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