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Medieval Japan Print Page

Middle Grade Fiction

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Of Nightingales That Weep - Katherine Paterson; Haru Wells (Illustrator)
The daughter of a samurai never weeps. But Takiko, whose warrior father was killed in battle, finds this a hard rule, especially when her mother remarries a strange and ugly country potter. To get away from her miserable home, Takiko eagerly accepts a position at the imperial Japanese court.

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Samurai Shortstop - Alan Gratz
Tokyo, 1890. Toyo is caught up in the competitive world of boarding school, and must prove himself to make the team in a new sport called besuboru. But he grieves for his uncle, a samurai who sacrificed himself for his beliefs, at a time when most of Japan is eager to shed ancient traditions. It's only when his father decides to teach him the way of the samurai that Toyo grows to better understand his uncle and father. And to his surprise, the warrior training guides him to excel at baseball, a sport his father despises as yet another modern Western menace.

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The Samurai's Tale - Erik C. Haugaard
When the powerful Lord Takeda's soldiers sweep across the countryside, killing and plundering, they spare the boy Taro's life and take him along with them. Taro becomes a servant in the household of the noble Lord Akiyama, where he meets Togan, a cook, who teaches Taro and makes his new life bearable. But when Togan is murdered, Taro's life takes a new direction: He will become a samurai, and redeem the family legacy that has been stolen from him.


From Samurai and Ninja to Bushido and Karate: The History & Culture of Martial Japan

Alex Echevarria, Elgin Heinz Outstanding Japanese Humanities Teacher, takes an inspired look at the history and culture of martial arts in Japan in this hour-long webinar recorded in February 2014.

Students of all ages learn about the samurai and the martial arts through media and popular culture, yet how much is historically accurate and not just based on myth or legend? In this seminar, we explore the martial history and culture of Japan from the Heian Period (794-1185) to the present day, including how the martial arts and their portrayal has impacted the imagination of US students. You will take away a variety of interesting resources both for your classroom and for furthering your knowledge of this unique tradition.

Online Lessons & Curricular Resources


Picture Books

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The Samurai's Daughter - Robert D. San Souci; Stephen T. Johnson (Illustrator)
A Japanese folk tale about the brave daughter of a samurai warrior and her journey to be reunited with her exiled father.

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The Perfect Sword - Scott Goto
Rich, symbolic art captures the Tokugawa period in ancient Japan. Includes an author's note about the history of Japanese samurai swords and a glossary of Japanese terms.

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The Book of Five Rings - Miyamoto Musashi
Written in 1645. On samurai strategy, tactics, and philosophy of swordsmanship.

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Hagakure: Book of the Samurai - Yamamoto Tsunetomo
From the 18th century about the philosophy of the samurai.


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