Okei: A Girl from the Provinces
Set in the midst of samurai warfare in the mountainous region of Aizu in the late 19th century, Okei recounts the coming of age of a young peasant girl Okei, who falls desperately in love with the fierce warrior Sanasuma Kingo, only to learn that the world she inhabits has no place for love. The two live in entirely different worlds, and Okei must learn to understand both the nature of her hidden feelings rising within her and the arcane codes and honor system of the samurai. As the forces of the old Tugokawa order struggle to contain the imperialist army, Okei and her rural community find that exile to the New World may be their only remaining chance of survival. Epically capturing the character of a country in the midst of revolution and faced with the onset of modernity, Mitsugu Saotome’s masterful novel manages to blend vivid historical detail with a timeless tale of romance, self-discovery, and growing up.