So Far from the Bamboo Grove

by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

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Student Question

What happens to Yoko's high expectations in "So Far From the Bamboo Grove"?

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Yoko believes that if they could only get back to their homeland, everything will be all right, but after their harrowing flight and journey from Nanam to Kyoto, her high expectations are dashed, and she finds that, even though the war is over, Japan is nothing like how she thought it would be. 

Yoko envisions Japan as being a beautiful place where they will be able to feel welcome and safe.  Instead, she finds her homeland reduced to rubble from the devastation of countless bombings.  The cities are demolished, and filled with refugees who have been cut off from their loved ones and are suffering from injury and starvation.  Yoko's grandparents have been killed during the war, and soon after delivering this news, her mother dies as well, leaving Yoko and her sister to fend for themselves.  Yoko and her sister watch over each other and manage to survive, even though at first they must seek shelter in an old warehouse, and scrounge for food through the refuse left by others. 

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