Hana da Yumiko Isolated Connected Kyushu Island
Rated 5 stars

Isolated Connected Kyushu Island weaves together the history of the people of Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island, and the stories that author Hana da Yumiko learned from her elders while she was a little girl. Spanning the years from the end of World War II to the early years of the twenty-first century, Isolated Connected Kyushu Island tells a story of transitions from the closing of the age of the samurai, to the rise of militarism, and finally to the coming and flourishing of democracy. The family’s story illustrates how the land’s Hiding Christians kept their faith in secret, how women worked on their own without the support of men to encourage social change, how the ebbs and flows of many countries’ histories combined to influence the story of this land, and how a missionary and a local belief in a savior influenced religious life. If you hunger to hear a story of universally human motives, joys, and fears told about a family living in a remote and unfamiliar land, then this book will satisfy that hunger with an account that both educates and inspires.

This part fiction novel starts in 1944 with the story of a young boy, whose life is changed forever by the war. The passion and heartfelt sorrow one feels when a war takes away sons to fight a war no one understands or even in fact wants to fight for... Do they come back? Or is it straight to the heavens for them? We continue the journey of this family living on Kyushu Island (the third largest island of Japan and most south-westerly of its four main islands), from the 1940s to 2004. This story is interconnected with many people and their journeys through the difficult times on this island, with always other forces wanting to take over, manipulate their islands and the ones surrounding them. Such is the greed for power. Hisaharu's life takes a different turn when he goes to high school, starts meeting different people and, best of all, gets access to books.

Hana da Yumiko's Isolated Connected Kyushu Island is delightfully peppered with history, from samurai warriors to WW2 and onward to the 21st century, following her ancestors. The story reads like a fiction novel, though it is a well documented and footnoted partly true story. Anticipation catches you unawares as you follow Hisaharu and his family, thus making it a page-turner that keeps you immersed in the history, cultural differences, and historical/life events that run through the entire book. Isolated Connected Kyushu Island tells a story of the transition from the ending of the age of the samurai to the rise of the military might and finally to a thriving democracy after so many years of invasions and religious control which continually affected the lives of Hisaharu and his family. This story educates as well as inspires you. Books like these are precious, giving us an insight into family life, but also showing us the struggle to gain a foothold and hang on to our democracy without losing too much along the way. A very enjoyable read; indeed one that you should have on your shelf to read again and again