Guest Author: Patricia Kiyono

A hearty welcome to our guest author today, Patricia Kiyono, who has a new book out called The Samurai’s Garden.

My grandfather, Zenya Seino, arrived in the United States from Japan almost a hundred years ago. He was one of a handful of Asians admitted to the U.S. that year. According to records at Ellis Island, he came with the intention of staying for only a few months. But he stayed the rest of his life.

I never met Grandpa, because he died before I was born. But I’ve seen pictures of him and remember things my dad and grandmother told me. Apparently, he was an extremely talented artist as well as a musician. I’d like to think that if he were still here he would approve of my choices of careers—both as a music teacher and an author.

Grandpa was born about twenty years after the end of the samurai era. He wouldn’t have known people like Hiro Tanaka, the main character in The Samurai’s Garden. But having learned a little bit about his background, I like to think he was raised with the same code of ethics, known as the bushido. He came to a strange country at a time when very few Asians lived here. Most Asians had difficulty finding work because it was felt they took work away from Americans. Fortunately, Grandpa already had a position—Stickly Brothers Furniture hired him to head their art department. He painted elaborate Asian-inspired designs on wood furniture.

Despite their problems, my grandparents assimilated into this new and strange society and made it theirs. I know they faced a lot of hostility and discrimination, especially during the second world war. But they became Americans because they persevered. This little family formed friendships and bonds that have lasted several generations. And this is the sort of character trait that inspired the story of The Samurai’s Garden.

kiyono_smAbout The Samurai’s Garden

Hiro Tanaka prepared for a life as a samurai warrior. But his world changed when Japan’s feudal system was abolished by the Emperor. Now, he must find a new vocation. Disillusioned with fighting and violence, he travels alone, going north to the island of Hokkaido.  Many other samurai wander through the country and are known as ronin. Some have forsaken their honorable way to prey on the less fortunate.

Hanako Shimizu experienced firsthand the devastation caused by these disreputable wanderers.  The previous winter, they raided her farm and killed her husband. Now, she needs to rebuild but has no money and no prospects—except for the dubious intentions of the town merchant.

When Hiro, tired of his wandering, encounters Hanako in the market, arguing with the merchant, he poses as her late husband’s cousin then offers to help her on the farm in exchange for a place to stay.  Working on the land, Hiro finally finds the peace he has been seeking. But the reappearance of the rogue ronin, led by an unscrupulous leader from Hiro’s past, forces him to take up his swords again. But now, the stakes are higher.

This time, he’s fighting from the heart.

kyouto Nara032_2smAbout the Author

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level.

She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her children and grandchildren. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures.

The Samurai’s Garden is available at Astraea PressAmazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Patricia Kiyono can be found at her websiteblogfacebook, and on Twitter (@PatriciaKiyono)

Note: To be eligible to win a copy of The Samurai’s Garden, mention in your comment about an ancestor of yours that you would like to meet.

28 thoughts on “Guest Author: Patricia Kiyono

  1. Thank you so much for having me here today Susana! I’ve decided to give away one free copy of The Samurai’s Garden to a commenter. Please tell me about someone in your family tree whom you would like to have met.


    • I like to think so too, Catherine. When I talked to my mom about it (she grew up in Japan as well), she said that when she left her home, it was with a sense of adventure, rather than fears about a permanent change in her life. It was probably that way from grandma and grandpa, too. Either way, I’m glad they took that step!


  2. As a former language teacher, I wish more second and beyond generation Americans would KEEP their heritage languages and not merge into the monolingual English-only culture. Multilingualism is a tremendous advantage to an individual AND to the nation!


    • I agree, Susana! I wish my family would have spoken Japanese at home. But since my dad’s family went through so much trouble during the second world war,they were anxious to prove their American allegiance and spoke only English. Later on, while my brothers and I were growing up, my grandmother would not allow mom to speak to me in her native language. So I had to wait until I went to college to learn it!


  3. Hi Patricia,

    Thank you for sharing the story of your ancestor. It is so important to think about our heritage. I would be fascinated to meet an ancestor of mine named Claibourne Holt who served in the American Revolution and managed to obtain a land grant for property, even though he was black! This man seemed to have an understanding about building a stake for oneself here in the United States, a lesson we can all come to appreciate. Good luck with your work!

    Thanks Susana for hosting your visitor today!



  4. Patty you already know how much I enjoyed this story, and the cover pic too.
    My Great x 3 grandfather emmigrated to Tasmania and become a prominant member of the community. I often study his picture online I wonder about him and his surviving line of family.


    • Thanks so much, Sherry. Have you tried locating them using a genealogy service? My grandfather came from Sendai, which is where the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster happened two years ago. My mom’s family tried to help us locate any surviving family members but couldn’t find anyone. I’ve considered using a service like to see if they can find any information for us..


  5. Lovely story, Patty. I think I would have liked to have met both sets of my great grandparents who lived in Czechoslovakia. My great-grandfather Janoco (on my maternal grandmother’s father) was a stone-cutter, working mainly with marble and my my maternal grandfather’s father was a blower of Czech crystal pieces (his wife was a healer, working with herbs and plants). It would be wonderful to sit down and just talk to them for awhile.


  6. Thanks for sharing your grandpa’s story. I really enjoyed reading about it. And I like it the way you affectionately call him “Grandpa” and not “my grandfather” 🙂 … Great post, Patty!


  7. I recently learned that my mother’s paternal ancestors lived in the same area of England that I chose for the setting for my story, “Treasuring Theresa.” Coincidence, of course. But still, I would like to find out what kind of people they were, pick their brains, etc. I’m pretty sure they weren’t rich aristocrats or they wouldn’t have emigrated to America, but it would still be fascinating! (I’m not eligible for the giveaway, Patricia. Just wanted to mention that.)


    • What a wonderful coincidence! I had the same kind of thing happen with Samurai’s Garden. I set the story in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, because there is a famous flower farm located there. And my paternal grandmother came to America from Hokkaido!


  8. Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments! The winner of the drawing was chosen from among those who shared a little about their ancestors. Piper will receive a free digital copy of The Samurai’s Garden! And thanks again, Susana, for having me here.


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