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Black Rain: A Novel (Japan's Modern Writers) Paperback – October 15, 1988

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Product Details

  • Series: Japan's Modern Writers
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; Reissue edition (October 15, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087011364X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870113642
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 4.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #904,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"I would recommend Black Rain to every reader, even the squeamish. " -- Spectator

"Immensely effective.... This is a book which must be read." -- Books and Bookmen

"Its subtle ironies and noble, unsentimental pity are a reminder of the strengths of Japanese fiction." -- New Statesman

"The most successful book yet written about the greatest single horror inflicted by one group of men upon another." -- Julian Symons, Sunday Times

"This painful and very beautiful book gives two powerful messages--of drastic warning, yet also of affirmation of life." -- John Hersey

Language Notes

Text: English, Japanese (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It's historical fiction.
Cameron Hilker
This book covers aspects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with brilliance and depth, and also gives great insight into the Japanese culture.
Every American should be required to read this book before finishing High School.
Mark R. Kregel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Mouldy Pilgrim on May 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Masuji Ibuse's "Black Rain" is rightly considered a classic in Japanese literature, and perhaps "the" classic of literature about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Shigematsu and his wife, Shigeko, arranged for a relative, Yasuko, to move to Hiroshima in order to avoid the draft for the war effort. Shigematsu worked for the government and could arrange things. After the bombing, persistent rumours about Yasuko suffering from radiation sickness made it impossible to find her a suitor for marriage. This problem prompted Shigematsu to write his own account of August the 6th, 1945, to show that Yasuko was exceptionally healthy. His logic was that he had been exposed to much more and his own life was relatively normal. He is a man of pride and dignity, as well as one with a keen sense of his own obligations to others around him.

Shigematsu's account is a catalogue of a plethora of horrors that people suffered during and immediately after the bombing. The injuries, the sights and Shigematsu's descriptions of them left this reader feeling less than pleasant. Shigematsu does not hold back on the details, nor does he attempt to overwell the reader with cheap shock tactics.

Shigematsu neither asks for nor expects the reader's sympathy. It is almost as if the bomb has to fit within his life and everyday routine. In the midst of the horror, for example, Shigematsu has business to attend to, and sees that he has done it to the extent possible. He comes across as a forthright and straight up person with a deep sense of trying to maintain some air of normality in the midst of terrible circumstances.

Ibuse based his novel on accounts written by survivors who were there and saw what happened.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By "j-tilt" on November 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Japan for two years, and was able to visit Hiroshima several times. I visited the Peace Park memorial there, and toured the museum. It was, to say the least, a very sobering experience.
Reading this book was also sobering, but I gained an interesting perspective from doing so. The great thing about this book is that it shows the bombing from the perspective of regular Japanese people and how it affected them. They didn't really know what had happened when the bomb went off. People didn't know about atomic bombs back then the way we know now.
The book also affords a very neutral perspective on the bombing. It isn't necessarily either anti-american or pro-japanese. It just tells the story as it happened. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about what happened to people in Hiroshima and how it affected their lives.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 1996
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most heart-wrenching accounts of the
bombing of Hiroshima I have ever read. Ibuse's matter-of-
fact telling of the effect of the bombing on a single
family leaves the indictment entirely up to the reader;
the human level of the story is more effective than a
thousand history books.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rosie Alma on April 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
I waited six months to get my hands on a copy of this book, eager to read it because it is supposed to be one of the best in the genre. The anticipation made me a little hesitant when beginning it, putting it off for another few weeks because I had high hopes- hopes that were fulfilled.

Ibuse bases his story on interviews and diaries of survivors, using real many authentic incidents. But this is also the partially fictional tale of Yasuko and her family as they struggle with life and acceptance following the bombing of Hiroshima. Though not in the direct line of the bomb and suffering no noticeable injury or illness but having been caught in the `black rain' that fell after, Yasuko has to worry about the future of not only herself but any children that she may have. This is one of the reasons that though of marrying age she has as of yet succeeded in securing a husband and the cause for both her and her Uncle Shizuma to begin copying their diaries from the day of the bombing and the days following. The novel goes backwards and forwards in time, giving the reader a sense of what it is like for the people who lived through the atrocity, as well as horror that was the bombing itself and the aftermath.

It's all matter of fact, never shying away from the gory detail to appease the reader, never adding drama where it isn't needed but still manages to convey the suffering.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J.H. "Jon" on October 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is excellent because it zooms in on and transforms what is unquestionably a horrific tragedy of war into clear, everyday, straightforward, even mundane (but never boring) depictions of what average, ordinary human beings lived through in the days, weeks, and years following the dropping of the bombs. Most of the book is narration in the form of a journal written by an older japanese man (Shigematsu) who (along with his wife and neice) lived through the dropping of the bomb in Hiroshima. Along the way other persons' diaries or recollections are interspersed to form a chronological picture of the days before and after the bomb. The accounts are in themselves written in ordinary speech, and have the feel of conversation, as though you'd been invited for dinner over to these people's houses, and they talked to you of some of their experiences...telling what they saw, what they heard, what they felt. The genius of the book is weaving the accounts into a cohesive whole, and making no judgment or commentary on the events other than the opinions expressed in the accounts. These are everyday accounts in everyday speech, and perhaps for that very reason, make the tragedy the more real -- Shigematsu and the others notice some details more than others, just the way that you the reader in your own life notice some things and not others. These details ring incredibly (as the reader) are transported to the scene. You become both inured to seeing disfigurement and death because it is everywhere, but moved at seeing it because it is your own friend or loved one who has been instantly burned, or who, years after the blast, only then starts to lose their hair, and their teeth, and to develop terrible sores. Excellent, excellent book.
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