| Hanasaka is a full-length historical fiction newly written by Iwasaki Kyôko (1922- ). It is about a boy named Tsuneshichi who becomes a gardener. Set in the Edo period and combining history and fiction, people’s life in Komagome, Tokyo, and the feelings of a boy who loves nature are described in rich detail.|
Hanasaka is narrated in first person according to a “Memorandum” written by Tsuneshichi, who was apprenticed to the gardener Genkichi in 1806. Tsuneshichi lives with the gardner’s family, senior apprentices, and a baby-sitter girl Sayo. He cares about unfortunate Sayo, but she dies of an illness too soon. Meanwhile, growing chrysanthemums comes into fashion in Edo. Taking care of chrysanthemum, Tsuneshichi becomes fascinated by growing living things. However, he begins to have doubts about competing in the gaudiness of the flower. Tsuneshichi rather wishes to raise cherry blossoms everywhere in Edo and devoted himself to training. When he becomes a qualified gardener, he marries his master’s daughter, Ochika, and besides doing his regular work, he grows nursery cherry trees and plants them all over Edo. The story closes by suggesting that these cherry trees may be the species blooming everywhere in Japan today.
A realistic description of the Edo people is the appeal of Hanasaka. Although Tsuneshichi and his memorandum are fictional, the story is supported by actual records and materials. Fact and fiction are merged successfully. Black-and-white illustrations like Indian-ink drawings by Saitô Hiroyuki also convey this atmosphere. The book was highly valued and received the Japanese Association of Writers for Children Prize in 1974.
On the other hand, it was thought that social situations of the period were not fully described in the book. Perhaps Iwasaki aimed to convey the preciousness of life through a gardener who took care of flowers while enduring a conservative apprenticeship.