Tanaka prepared for a life as a samurai warrior. But his world changed when Japan’s feudal system was abolished by the Emperor. Now, he must find a new vocation. Disillusioned with fighting and violence, he travels alone, going north to the island of Hokkaido. Many other samurai wander through the country and are known as ronin. Some have forsaken their honorable way to prey on the less fortunate.

Hanako Shimizu experienced first-hand the devastation caused by these disreputable wanderers. The previous winter, they raided her farm and killed her husband. Now, she needs to rebuild but has no money and no prospects — except for the dubious intentions of the town merchant.

When Hiro, tired of his wandering, encounters Hanako in the market, arguing with the merchant, he poses as her late husband’s cousin then offers to help her on the farm in exchange for a place to stay. Working on the land, Hiro finally finds the peace he has been seeking. But the reappearance of the rogue ronin, led by an unscrupulous leader from Hiro’s past, forces him to take up his swords again. But now, the stakes are higher.

‘But now the stakes are higher’.This sentence is misleading because this story has no stakes- and no real conflict. The Samurai’s Garden is warm, pleasant fluff; a cinderella story where a knight in shining armor rides into a poor woman’s life and sweeps her off her feet. Nothing causes any real problems in their life (except some contrived reasons about Hanako’s none existent ‘independence’ which only exists to delay their marriage),everyone is ridiculously nice, and the whole novel consists of Hiro serenading Hanako and essentially singing poems about his love of a simple domestic life. Continue reading REVIEW:THE SAMURAI’S GARDEN- by Patricia Kiyono