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Rei Kimura

Butterfly in the Wind

ISBN 90-806129-4-4


Bound in linnen with dustjacket
format 14,4 x 21,2cm
pages: 165

EUR 19,50

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Rei Kimura
Butterfly in the Wind

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Anchoku-Ro, Okichi's room
Okichi Saito was the daughter of a ship carpenter from Shimoda, Japan, born december 1841. Endowed with too much beauty to live a normal life, her father destined her for the geisha house. Nevertheless she fell in love with a carpenter and her father consented in a marriage.

1856 American ships appeared before the coast of Shimoda. The town became crowded with red-haired devils (gaijins) demanding the opening of Japan. The envoy Townsend Harris spotted Okichi walking from a bathhouse, and he wanted her. As a gesture of goodwill the local governer gave Okichi as a present to Harris. It would ruin her life. Five years she nursed the American politician and she had to satisfy his sexual needs. When Harris returned home, she was free, but she never got rid of the stigma of being a concubine.

She tried to make a living, first by running a hair and beauty saloon. Later, after the dead of her old fiancé, she ran an inn, called the Anchoku-Ro, which is still there to treasure her memory. There she drank more sake than she sold. She poured her heart in songs and played the samisen.

She lived in the small room you see on the picture for about twenty years before she ended her life by drowning herself in the sea in 1891.

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Rei Kimura
Rei Kimura is a lawyer with a passion for writing about unique events and personalities.
This interest led her to write a book about Alberto Fujimoro, the controversial former president of Peru. She also wrote on the Aumshinrikyo sect, responsible for the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo underground, that made many victims.
She considers her writing as part of the perennial quest for truth, challenge and fulfilment.

Ms Kimura is currently associated with the Australian News Syndicate.

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Above: Anchoku-Ro, Below: tomb of Okichi
"She realised that she had slept through the afternoon and night had fallen. Rushing to the window, she opened the paper screen a crack and peered outside. The gay jostling crowds had melted away and the village square was quiet and deserted. The silence was broken only by the sounds of the big, black, ugly crows foraging determinedly among the debris left behind by the merrymakers.
Okichi knew that as dawn broke, there would be the gritty scraping of straw brooms as the villagers cleared up the mess of the previous night's merrymaking and by daybreak, everything would be spick and span again.
The paper lanterns were still flapping gaily in the wind but the candles within had long burnt down to the quick. Nothing had changed in Shimoda. The summer festival was exactly the same as it had been, with the same paper lanterns being reused by its frugal citizens year after year and the same wind-bells still graced the doorways and windows of the houses.
Someone had even hung up one in the "Yume" and Okichi heard it now, the tiny tinkling of the lone wind-bell, timid and retiring, as if testing the mood of its mistress."

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Cover text

Shimoda 1856. Okichi Saito is engaged with the carpenter Tsurumatsu, when menacing shapes of black ships appear in the bay: the US demand the opening of the Japanese market.
The envoy, Townsend Harris, the later Consul General, is enticed by Okichi's beauty as he spots her walking from a bathhouse.
Japanese officials, who consider the 15 year old girl only as a pawn in their negotiations, deliver her to "Old Man Harris" to perfrom "personal services".
Five years later Harris returns home because of ill health. Okichi is free now, but a wounded person, scorned by the townsfolk, forever a "Tojin", a foreigner's concubine.
In the circumstances her reunion with Tsurumatsu ends as a tragic love story, one of the most touching ever.

First published in digital form, this biographic novel was a nominee for the 2000 E-book Awards of the Frankfurt Bookfair.

"A true bittersweet love story is portrayed between Okichi and her intended Tsurumatsu ... This is a wrenching, beautifully written story and one very worth reading." (Rosalie Whitney, US Times Bestseller List)

"The tender and tragic story of Okichi Saito, unsung heroine of Japan, is recounted with poignant, vivid detail ... Don't miss "Butterfly in the Wind". This one legend you will never forget." (Sonya Bateman, BookReviewClub.com)

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