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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Harp of Burma (Tuttle Classics) Paperback – December 15, 1989

29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Japanese

About the Author

Michio Takeyama (1903 - 1984) spent his early years in Seoul, Korea, then a Japanese colony. Primarily an essayist and a scholar of German literature, he was for a time professor of German at elite universities in Tokyo. Takeyama won the prestigious Mainichi Shuppan Bunkasho prize for the Harp of Burma, and its publication propelled him to fame.

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Product Details

  • Series: Tuttle Classics
  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; 28th printing edition (December 15, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804802327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804802321
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #546,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By David Bonesteel on August 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
At the end of WWII, Corporal Mizushima, the pride of his unit, accepts an assignment to convince another Japanese unit to surrender to British forces. Mizushima's unit goes to a POW camp and spends its days tormented by the fate of their missing comrade, who had become something of a symbol of good luck and hope for them. About this time, they also become aware of a travelling Burmese monk who often wanders through the area and bears a striking resemblance to...could it be? I don't want to reveal too much, but what these soldiers learn will affect them deeply and give them a new understanding of what it means to be faithful to one's countrymen--an understanding that is entirely different from the patriotic nationalism that caused them to go to war in the first place.

Michio Takeyama's novel includes sequences of high adventure as well as beautiful, elegiac passages and meditations on spirituality and responsibility. A highly entertaining and rewarding novel.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By rm on June 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
One of my favorite books. It contains one of the most brilliant and moving scenes ever written. Far from nationalistic propoganda, I found this to be a moving portrayal of the pacific war and how the Japanese troops felt during the closing stages of it. Rather than faceless, evil minions dominant in American popular culture, this book employs well shaped characters to explore what people do when a war is lost and their country lays in ruins. This book asks important questions about whether war is inherent to materialistic societies and whether human beings can kill each other once their humanity is revealed. The answers to these questions shape this book and form the thoughtful basis of an engaging story.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Elmore ( on January 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Some may feel that the Japanese still haven't come to grips with what their nation did in World War 2, and this book will only reinforce that view. If you think that everything Japan does from now until the end of time should, in some way, be an apology for the role Japan played, then you will hate this book, but you'll only be hurting yourself.
I only read the book because I had to for a class, but that didn't keep me from falling in love with it. The way the author describes things like the terror the Japanese soldiers had for the Gurkas, or how the main character convinces his surrounded friends that the war is over and that they can surrender are scenes I will never forget. Most of all, the burning desire of the Japanese to go home and start over will move anyone.
No, these Japanese soldiers aren't the monsters that some think they all were, but that doesn't make it a bad book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Randy Keehn VINE VOICE on December 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frankly, I ordered "Harp of Burma" by mistake but it looked interesting when I received it so I kept it. In its' brevity, it didn't take me long to find the time to read it. It is a story of the end of war and one man's discovery that his job is just beginning. It is told through the eyes of a company of Japanese soldiers (serving in Burma, of course) who surrender to the British when told the war has ended. There was a need for a volunteer to go an try to convince another company of Japanese to surrender. Corporal Mizushima volunteers and assurances are made that he will be able to catch up with his company. "Harp of Burma" is the story of what happened to Mizushima and how it challenged and then changed him. There's no need to say more; once you start reading this book, you will likely feel compelled to find out the rest for yourself.

"Harp of Burma" is well written and easy to follow. It is an intentional tale of peace, understanding and perspective. The author's focus on this leaves the brutality of war as something that victimizes the soldiers of both sides. That may be true but the absence of animosity between combatants the moment peace arrives struck me as unnecessarily simplistic. Having said that, I confess that, for the sake of the deserving message presented, I let my reservations take a hike. In "Harp of Burma" everything gets looked at in a different way. This book won't change the world but it may help us appreciate that some individuals just might.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book challenges your preconceptions, demands that you rethink what war is. More than anything, this book investigates the problem of meaning - what does it mean to be human? Examining the problem of meaning, particularly in the context of war and contrary to many persons preconceptions, this book opens the mind if one lets it. While superficially the story of Japanese soldiers at the end of World War Two, the underlying message should disturb one and all: the "enemy" is often all too human and all too humane. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
It is near the end of World War II. A company of Japanese soldiers are dodging the British in the jungles of Burma, trying to slip over the border into Siam. They have learned to sing to ease their miseries. Their singing is centered around the magical playing of Mizushima on a Burmese harp. One night they are surrounded by British forces. What saves them is Mizushima playing "Hanyu no Yado" ("Home Sweet Home") on his harp. A deadly firefight is averted. Soon both Japanese and British have joined together singing "Home Sweet Home" in the middle of the night in the middle of the jungle. It turns out that the War is over. Mizushima goes on a solo mission to persuade a holdout Japanese unit to surrender, while the rest of the company is sent to a POW camp in South Burma. There they await the return of Mizushima and repatriation. And they sing.

That covers the first third of HARP OF BURMA. The fairy tale goes on and on. There are two parakeets, one of which says, "Let's go back! Let's go back to Japan together!" and the other, "Ah, I cannot go home!" There are Burmese cannibals who find a wounded Japanese soldier, restore him to health, and then tell him they are fattening him up for their cannibalistic rituals; he is saved at the last moment (via a happenstance that would have been beyond the creativity of the Brothers Grimm) and becomes a Buddhist monk. The dulcet tones of "Home Sweet Home" played on a Burmese harp mysteriously emanate from a large statue of a reclining Buddha. A large red Burmese ruby is found in a sandy river bank while burying the corpses of Japanese soldiers. And much more.

The story really isn't important.
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