Translator's note: Akira Yoshimura is a prize-winning, best-selling Japanese author of more than twenty novels that are often based on historical incidents in the early 20th century. He is the president of Japan's Writer's Union and a member of International PEN. His novel, based on the Otsu Incident was published in 1993.

According to the publisherís information, he utilized a lot of historical documentation including previously unknown one. Unfortunately, as of September 2005, it was not translated into any other language. It should be noted that even in todayís Japan, the Otsu incident is politically important, as many conservative Japanese people still try to justify World War II and Japanís invasion of Asian countries as a defensive war against the European Power, especially Russia, which historically tried to expand its territories towards the northern part of Japan.

Please do not be confused: This is the translated version of Amazon Japan original website The review shown below is not my review. I only translated the website written in Japanese into English.


Nikolai-Sounan (Japanese title)

Nikolai Meets an Accident (English title)
Price: 1631 yen ($15 USD)

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Translatorís note: the Japanese letters in the Ukiyoe-like picture explains that the person on the right is Crown Prince Nikolai, the person on the left is one of the most famous Japanese war heroes in the Meiji era, Takamori Saigo.

Book Data:
Hard Cover 359p; 19 cm x 13 cm
Publisher: Iwanami Syoten
ISBN: 4000017004
Published: 09/1993
Amazon.co.jp Ranking: 914,409

Contents (from " the BOOK " data base)

On May 11th of 1891 (or Meiji year 24 in Japanese calendar), the Russian Crown Prince visiting Japan was attacked by a native Japanese. This incident, known as The Otsu Incident, shook the Meiji Japan.

In this fictional novel, the author approaches the entire incident and the core of history by investigating Nikolai's departure from Nagasaki, political tension between Japan and Russia, the court process, and the death of the attacker Sanzo Tsuda, basing it on numerous previously unknown historical records.

Reviewer: Rinjiro (Amazon Best 1000 reviewer)

3 out of 3 persons found the following review helpful.
2003/12/10

The Book is about the Meiji Japan's first great scandal: the Otsu Incident. The Otsu Incident shook the whole of Japan. A great power, Russia, was aiming to expand its territory toward the south, and was one that Japan feared most, when the nation was still in its infancy as a modern nation-state.

Both the Japanese government and the private sector showed a large welcome for Crown Prince Nikolai who visited Japan, as a sign of diplomatic gesture. It is very interesting to see how the book described every single move of Crown Prince Nikolaiís group in a realistic and meticulous manner. The reader feels as if he is watching them in front of him.

Nikolai showed interest in the Japanese traditional objects of craftwork, had a tattoo on his body, and bought an ornamental hairpin for the Japanese girl who happened to be near him. Being human, he was described as a charming young person, who showed courtesy on every occasion, and even after encountering the incident, he showed warm respect toward the Japanese who worried about the after effect of the incident. Here, you can see the true face of Nikolai who later fought with Japan in Russo-Japanese war, and was later murdered in the Russian Revolution.

To pacify the angry Russian, the Japanese government tried everything to execute the attacker Sanzo Tsuda, even bending the laws, which didn't allow execution in such a case. A judicial branch, which wanted to protect the separation of power, tried to obtain life imprisonment for Tsuda. In a sense of protecting the nation, both sides had their own justice. Eventually the incident didn't develop into a serious matter, at least partially because of help from the Meiji Emperor. The book describes how the founding father of modern Japan faced and solved the national adversity in Meiji Japan.

(Translated by Junichi Hayashi)

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