So Far from the Bamboo Grove

by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

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Who is Corporal Matsumura and why did he warn the family to leave in So Far from the Bamboo Grove?

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Written by Japanese American author Yoko Kawashima Watkins, So Far From The Bamboo Grove is a semi-autobiographical novel and tells the story of eleven-year-old Yoko’s childhood in North Korea during the Second World War.

Yoko meets Captain Matsumura for the first time when he in hospital. Yoko is a student of Japanese dancing and is chosen, along with a few others, to entertain wounded soldiers. Captain Matsumura has been seriously injured in the war and, wanting to die, he is refusing to eat. However, Yoko inspires in the Captain a will to live. He then becomes a very good friend to Yoko and her family.

Then Ko, Mother, and Mr. Fukui wished the Corporal a speedy recovery and we left, to my great relief. How could I know this man was to be important in my life?

Corporal Matsumura tells the family they must leave as the Russians troops have landed. The family immediately catch a train and head for Seoul.

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