Twenty-Four Eyes

Twenty-Four Eyes, by Sakae Tsuboi, is a gentle book about a young teacher and her first group of students. The story spans 20 years, or “one generation,” from 1927 to 1947 in a small village in Japan, and it is a tender view of the teacher and her students throughout that turbulent period of time.

The teacher, Mrs. Oishi, was a tiny woman with a huge heart, and her students loved her. In the beginning, however, she had to prove herself to the children and their parents, and struggled with all the issues facing a young teacher. You get to know about the lives of Mrs. Oishi and of each of the 12 children, and learn what happens to them over the course of those years, and of how the war impacts each of their lives.

This is an honest and nostalgic look at life during a period of great change. It is considered an anti-war book, but is not vociferous. It is a gentle story of joy and sadness, growth and change, and of the devastating effects of war on a small group of children and their teacher.

Being a teacher, I loved this book because it honestly portrayed the relationships a teacher has with her students. It touches the heart in a kind and gentle way, and leaves you feeling tenderhearted long after you finish the book.

This is my first book for Dolce Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge.

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7 thoughts on “Twenty-Four Eyes

  1. Nymeth

    I love the sound of this one. This challenge is going to double my wishlist, I just know it.

    That kind of gentleness even when dealing with difficult topics seems to be common in Japanese literature, doesn’t it? I finished my first book for the challenge a few days ago (When the Emperor was Divine), and even though it was about internment camps during WW2, I would also describe it as gentle.

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  2. Susan

    I love the idea of a “gentle” book when so many others are dark, violent and depressing. Sounds like a wonderful read!

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  3. Robin

    Hi J. Danger. It’s a poignant little book, and I was particularly touched by how honestly it portrayed the experiences of a teacher.

    Nymeth, yes, I agree that there is a lot of gentleness in the Japanese literature I’ve read so far … Gentleness and sadness, rather than bitterness and harshness.

    Hi Cath. I haven’t read a lot of Japanese literature, but I’ve really enjoyed what I have read and want to read more!

    Susan, that’s the way I feel. I can’t bear to take on the “dark, violent and depressing” books. I need a little “gentle.” which I find very powerful in a positive way.

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  4. tanabata

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. I’m not sure when I’ll finally get to it but I can see my copy over on the bookshelves.

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  5. Robin

    Tanabata, it was quite a fast read, and a poignant little story, and I think you’ll like it when you read it. I discovered that there’s also an old movie that was made of the book, so we ordered it from Netflix and watched it last week. It followed the story very closely, but was even more sad and nostalgic than the book.

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