The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

Gail Tsukiyama

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

448 Pages



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It is Tokyo in 1939. On the Street of a Thousand Blossoms, two orphaned brothers are growing up with their loving grandparents, who inspire them to dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows unusual skill at the national obsession of sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of creating hard-carved masks for actors in the Noh theater.

Across town, a renowned sumo master, Sho Tanaka, lives with his wife and their two young daughters: the delicate, daydreaming Aki and her independent sister, Haru. Life seems full of promise as Kenji begins an informal apprenticeship with the most famous mask-maker in Japan and Hiroshi receives a coveted invitation to train with Tanaka. But then Pearl Harbor changes everything. As the ripples of war spread to both families’ quiet neighborhoods, all of the generations must put their dreams on hold—and then find their way in a new Japan.

In an exquisitely moving story that spans almost thirty years, Gail Tsukiyama draws us irresistibly into the world of the brothers and the women who love them. It is a world of tradition and change, of heartbreaking loss and surprising hope, and of the impact of events beyond their control on ordinary, decent men and women. Above all, The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is a masterpiece about love and family from a glorious storyteller at the height of her powers.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is also available on CD as an unabridged audiobook.  Please email for more information.


Praise for The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

"The Street of a Thousand Blossoms has epic ambitions—considerable scope, encompassing the years 1939-66; a multitude of significant characters; and recurring moments of tragedy and redemption. But it's written in the reassuringly small-scale style of a folk tale, characterized by short anecdotes and a heavy dose of morals . . . Tsukiyama's prose is simple and slow, at times seeming to strive for the kind of eloquence found in a Noh play, whose centuries-old art depends on stylized action to create tension and drama."—Louisa Thomas, The New York Times

“[Tsukiyama] writes with eloquence and feeling. Her prose is so finely wrought that you smell the rotting persimmons and the sawdust from wood being sanded in a mask shop. You are chilled by the mist rising in a Japanese mountain valley and even feel the heat and stench of the flames consuming parts of Tokyo during a World War II firebombing. This book is a feast for the senses . . . Tsukiyama has the soul of a storyteller.”—Denver Post
"A fascinating, intricate portrait of Japanese customs and rituals that floods the senses."USA Today
“Tsukiyama's writing is clear and spare, and the thoughts and actions of her characters are accessible, believable. She unmasks their intentions for us, making it all the more tragic when they misread one another.”—Seattle Times
“Tsukiyama has long been known for her emotional and detailed stories. This time, she has gone even deeper to explore what happens to ordinary people during frightening and tragic times.”—Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love

“Gail Tsukiyama is a writer of astonishing grace, delicacy, and feeling. Her lyric precision serves not only to leave the reader breathless but to illuminate human suffering and redemption with clarity and power.”—Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
“Covering the years of the war and after, on the home front of Japan, Tsukiyama tells a powerful story of family, of loss, and of endurance with her usual insight, her perfect imagery, and her unforgettable characters.”—Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
“Gail Tsukiyama takes us into the world of sumo, allowing us to experience what exists beyond the rituals and the wrestling: the fascinating culture of contact and the intimacies of family love and devotion. This is an impressive achievement.”—Elizabeth George, author of What Came Before He Shot Her and Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life
“A master storyteller . . . Gail Tsukiyama expertly and beautifully weaves together the lives of a sumo wrestler and his family, and a Noh mask-maker through World War II and into the 1960s.”—Jane Hamilton, author of The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World

“Tsukiyama is a mesmerizing storyteller . . . [her] historically detailed and plot-driven story of resilience, discipline, loyalty and right action is popular fiction at its most intelligent, appealing and rewarding.”—Booklist

“Tsukiyama returns to the historical fiction genre and brings to life another sumptuously written work . . . As in her other novels, Tsukiyama proves to be adept at capturing sensory detail.”—Library Journal

"Tsukiyama tackles life in Japan before, during and after WWII. The story follows brothers Hiroshi and Kenji Matsumoto through the devastation of war and the hardships of postwar reconstruction. Orphaned when their parents were killed in a boating accident, the boys are raised by their grandparents in Tokyo. In 1939, Hiroshi is 11 and dreams of becoming a sumo champion, and soon Kenji will discover his own passion, to become a master maker of Noh masks. Their grandparents, Yoshio and Fumiko Wada, are vividly rendered; the war years and early postwar years, centered in their home on the street of the novel's title, are powerfully portrayed . . . Tsukiyama's close attention to historical and geographical detail enriches the narrative . . . The lingering effects of war . . . combined with a nation's search for pride and hope after surrender comprise the novel's oversized heart."—Publishers Weekly

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  • The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Gail Tsukiyama's novel The Street of a Thousand Blossoms. Japan, 1939. On the Street of a Thousand Blossoms in Tokyo, two orphaned brothers are growing up with loving grandparents who inspire them to dream of a future firmly rooted in tradition. The older boy, Hiroshi, shows early signs of promise in sumo wrestling, while Kenji is fascinated by the art of creating exquisite masks for actors in the Noh theater.



  • Gail Tsukiyama

  • Gail Tsukiyama is the bestselling author of five previous novels, including Women of the Silk and The Samurai’s Garden, as well as a recipient of the Academy of American Poets Award and the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award. She divides her time between El Cerrito and Napa Valley, California.

  • Gail Tsukiyama Kevin Horan
    Gail Tsukiyama


    Gail Tsukiyama

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