In the late 1940s the youngest pearl diver works on Shodo Island. But four years after diving off the waters of Japan, she’s rejected by her family and society when she contracts leprosy. Sent to a leper colony on Nagashina Island, her disease doesn’t spread once a new medicine is discovered, but can she regain her freedom to live a normal life again?
Still a child in a poor fishing village, Sayuri is sold into slavery to a Kyoto geisha house. As she grows, she is groomed to become a geisha and is soon visiting teahouses dressed in fine kimonos and competing with a jealous rival.
She falls in love, but when it is time for her virginity to be auctioned, it is another man who bids the highest. Although she is a popular geisha, when war breaks out and the geisha houses are forced to close, she has little money.
Luz James feels lost. She’s been shifted from pillar to post since childhood because of her mother’s job. Now she’s in Okinawa, a tiny group of islands that belong to Japan. She’s already lost the grandmother she loved, but when she loses her closest friend, her sister, Luz can’t hold it together. She hangs out with a group every night to get high. On one of those nights she wanders off and encounters something that leads her on a path to discover her unknown family and the Okinawan women whose secret she discovers.
This is not only a great tale, but the historical setting with flashbacks to a young Okinawa school girl during the war reveals a lot about the Japanese and their attitudes towards the people of this island.
In the early 1900s when Sunja falls pregnant, she refuses to be mistress to a wealthy man she discovers is already married. Instead she accepts an offer of marriage from a minister and they soon leave Korea for Japan.
This is a four generational tale exploring Japan’s attitude towards Koreans as well as the family’s struggles to survive. A compelling story.