The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro by Kanji Hanawa

The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro by Kanji Hanawa

Japanese Novella

Original title – Asunaroko Huntoki/あすなろ公奮闘記

Translator – Meredith McKinny

Source – Review copy

I should have gotten round to this book earlier from Red Circle had kindly sent me a number of their books they have brought out a number ion short novellas from Japanese I have reviewed two of the other books including another book by the Writer the Late Kanji Hanawa published a number of books in his lifetime. But the two are the only ones that have been translated there is a very good pdf all about his books on the Red Circle website. He won a number of prizes in his lifetime. This book is very different from Backlight, which makes me want to read more books from this writer let’s hope we get a few more in English over time.

Every morning, the young son of a certain feudal lord woken at a fixed hour when the doors and paper screens of his bedroom were drawn open, in undeviating order and with the same predictable clatter. Impassively and regardless of the weather, his gaze fell first on the tasteful courtyard garden beyond the window.

Next, his eyes lifted to the lowest roof of the corner tower and began to count off the pine branches of the round eaves tiles, their gold leaf flaking in patches, before he gave up halfway as he always did.Thus the young lord of the West Castle commence his day

The opening lines of the book. is all as it seems with in the court ?


The book is the imagined story of a real-life figure Lord Asunaro was a real figure he was the son of a minor lord in the EDO period of Japanese history this is a strange tale to tell as he isn’t a heroic figure he is a boy that has been kept away at from the upper echelons of the court and he is maybe a little naive he reminded me a little of Prince George in Blackadder if he had a little more of Blackadder’s bile in him. This is a boy that gets to the top but isn’t as he thought it would be as he has been stripped of power he is just a figurehead as he takes over he loves the woman from his first meeting woman to his fathering a lot of children to a number of women in his lifetime and the kids that followed. This short novella sees a man in the shadow of his father, a boy that never grows on the cusp of power. A boy-man on the edge of it. But takes over it is an odd little Novella but a different look at the Japan of the time now samurai or shoguns are just young men not quite equipped for the job. It is hard to tell as this is a subtle tale with little action, but it draws you into Lord Asunaro’s world.

The boy’s instructions in swordsmanship had begun back when he was eleven and still living in the main castle. The Lord himself was not fond of swordsmanship, which perhaps was behind his choosing to assign the now-retired Satomi Eizan as Instructor. Apparently stirred by this, Satomi Eizan grew boastful about a youth spent practising his skills throughout the land, and was inclined to deal with the lad in a rather offhand manner.

‘Okay then, try this,” announced Lord Asunaro one day handing him a pickled white radish while himself took up the wooden sword (The protective gear and light bamboo swords of today’s swordsmanship practice were yet to be invented, and only appeared and gained wide acceptance at the end of Feudal period.

The young man isn’t like other want him to be as shown here this is a time of strong men with swords!


I loved this I liked all of the red circle books they are perfect afternoon reads and this is what I did today I had planned to review another book from Japan but just wasn’t ready to so I picked this up as I had planned to read it this month. his is as much a character study as a historic work why should someone born into a position be right for the job as we know here in the UK at the moment we have an heir and his younger brother showing about royal families and their inner workings. As I said the main figure I though of was Prince George from Blackadder but with a darker edge to him but that same not fully grown into the world feel. Have you a favourite book about a royal family? or Have you read any other books by Red Circle?

Winston’s score – B A solid little novella about a historic prince not quite for the job.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kimbofo
    Jan 07, 2023 @ 01:29:07

    You have intrigued me with this review, Stu, not least because Prince George is my all-time favourite character from Blackadder! I haven’t heard of Red Circle before so I will look them up. I love Japanese fiction but only read one Japanese novel last year…


  2. Trackback: Stu’s 2023 journey January | Winstonsdad's Blog

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January 2023


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