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Shiba Ryōtarō is Japan’s best-loved author, and Clouds above the Hill is his most popular and influential work. In it he celebrates the transformative spirit of Meiji Japan and examines Japan’s unexpected victory in the Russo-Japanese War, providing a thoughtful and thought-provoking perspective on those dramatic times and the people at their center. This distinguished translation of a modern classic is a landmark event.-Donald Keene, University Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, USA.


Shiba Ryōtarō wrote that from the Meiji Restoration of 1868 through the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, Japan transformed its premodern “brown sugar” society into a modern “white sugar” one, eagerly scooping up crystals of the new substance in the drive to create society anew. During the Pacific War, by contrast, the nation’s leaders merely went through empty motions, and Japan collapsed. This book looks back on that earlier era through the lens of the later tragedy, depicting the struggles and growth to maturity of Japan’s young men. - Naoki Tanaka, former Member of the Japanese Parliament, and President of the Center for International Public Policy Studies, Japan.
When the Russo-Japanese War was over and Japan had won, the commanding generals from both sides came together face to face at Suishiying. They paid honor to each other’s bravery and expressed mutual condolences, and before parting they shook hands. I have visited that very place, which seems to me less the site of a Japanese victory than a monument to the souls of fallen soldiers on both sides. I have no doubt that Clouds above the Hills was also written to honor those souls.- Anno Mitsumasa, author and illustrator of children’s books in Japan.

Related Products

  1. Clouds above the Hill

    A Historical Novel of the Russo-Japanese War, Volume 1

    By Shiba Ryōtarō

    Edited by Phyllis Birnbaum

    Clouds above the Hill is one of the best-selling novels ever in Japan, and is now translated into English for the first time. An epic portrait of Japan in crisis, it combines graphic military history and highly readable fiction to depict an aspiring nation modernizing at breakneck speed....

    Published December 9th 2012 by Routledge

  2. Clouds above the Hill

    A Historical Novel of the Russo-Japanese War, Volume 4

    By Shiba Ryōtarō

    Edited by Phyllis Birnbaum

    Clouds above the Hill is the best-selling novel ever in Japan, and is now translated into English for the first time. An epic portrait of Japan in crisis, it combines graphic military history and highly readable fiction to depict an aspiring nation modernizing at breakneck speed. Best-selling...

    Published November 28th 2013 by Routledge