“Please sit,” Sachi said, pointing to the cushions by the low black lacquer table. Then she disappeared into the kitchen, only to reappear a few moments later carrying two cups of tea. “You must be cold and thirsty after your long walk.”
I took the small clay cup from her and sipped from it. The warm, slightly bitter tea soothed my dry throat. I smiled, looked up, and asked, “Is everything all right?”
“Has Matsu-san led you to believe otherwise?” she asked.
“He said very little.”
Sachi laughed softly and sipped her tea. “It is just like Matsu,” she said, shaking her head. She sat down at the table across from me. “Matsu didn’t want to tell you that I could no longer go down to Tarumi. My presence there has brought great dishonor to all of you.” (Page 74-75)
Gail Tsukiyama’s The Samurai’s Garden gives insight on the effect of love and affection to overcome our sorrows and confronts us with the many challenges and hardships of personal loneliness. One of the three main characters of the book is Stephen who is a college student in Canton, China near the beginning of World War II. Stephen contracts tuberculosis and is sent by his parents to live in a small Japanese village near the ocean to recover. In the small village of Tarumi, he is living in his grandparents’ home and being cared for by Matsu the servant and caretaker of the house. Matsu, the second central character, is very quiet and efficient and at first does not allow Stephen close. The third main character of the book is Sachi who has leprosy and must live in a secluded leper colony. As the story progresses, we learn about the connection between Matsu and Sachi. As they get to know Stephen, who though ill has great enthusiasm and love for the life he is discovering in Tarumi, Matsu and Sachi open up to this new friendship. Stephen tells the story in the form of a journal he is keeping. As he reflects on his parents’ relationship, his sister, the many hardships suffered by Sachi and Matsu, Stephen grows up and matures. It is a thought-provoking and heartwarming story.