Visit edo bay, Japan, circa 1853

The Bamboo Sword

When American ships steam into Edo Bay for the first time, it is into the forbidden waters of mid-19th-century Japan. Outsiders are not allowed to enter the country, and Japan’s samurai prepare for war. Thirteen-year-old Yoshi longs to join the fight to expel the hairy barbarians...But how? As a lowly servant, he is not permitted to become a samurai or to carry swords.

Yet the ships have barely arrived when Yoshi finds himself wielding a sword in a way that will change his life forever. Forced to flee, he meets an odd samurai named Manjiro, who is on his way to Edo to advise the shogun about the western invaders. Yoshi encounters plenty of adventures traveling with a man suspected of being an American spy.

Through it all, Yoshi just wants the “hairy ones” to go away. But when he and an American boy from one of the ships become entangled in a web of adventure and intrigue, the two boys discover that they must rely on each other to survive.

Published by Amulet Books. Cover art by Yuko Shimizu.

This is a companion book to Heart of a Samurai >

Praise for the bamboo sword

“The Bamboo Sword is historical fiction at its best.”
— Bookpage
Bringing life to historical events not often addressed in children’s literature, this rich, multilayered novel will be a treat for fans of Heart of a Samurai.
— School Library Journal
Middle grade readers eager for adventure with a solid grounding in history will be enchanted.
— Booklist
Another suspenseful swashbuckler starring a Japanese boy who finds himself caught between cultures.
— Kirkus Starred Review

Awards for The Bamboo Sword

2016 Book Pages Best Books of the Year

2016 Minnesota Book Award Finalist

Watch now

Trailer for The Bamboo Sword

Digital Art and Video: Joellyn Rock and Dan Fitzpatrick

Taiko Drum Music: “Yorokobi” by Hiroshi Koshiyama

Special thanks to MMAD Lab at U of MN-Duluth