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The Tokaido Road

An account of Japan’s most famous revenge story set in 1702.

“So lonely am I
My soul is a floating weed
Severed at the roots”

This is how Lady Asano has felt since the forced suicide of her father. Adrift in a dangerous world, she vows to avenge her father’s death and restore his name to honor. To do so, she will have to travel the Tokaido Road.

As the novel opens, Lady Asano has transformed herself into Cat, a high-ranking courtesan, to support her widowed mother. Yet Cat’s career is temporary; the powerful Lord Kira’s campaign against her family is continuing and she must find Oishi, leader of the samurai of the Asano clan, weapons master, philosopher, and Cat’s teacher. Cat believes he is three hundred miles to the southwest in the imperial city of Kyoto.

Disguising her loveliness in the humble garments of a traveling priest, Cat begins her quest. All she has is her samurai training—in Haiku and Tanka poetry, in the use of the deadly six-foot weapon, the naginata, and in Japanese Zen thought. And she will need them all, for a ronin, a lordless samurai—Tosa no Hanshiro, has been hired to trail her.

Reader Reviews


“Intoxicating… Engrossing… Recreates the colorful people, stunning landscapes and arcane customs of feudal Japan… Robson keeps the story moving deftly through the separate worlds of courtesans, warriors, priests, peasants, poets and actors, with an eye to the complex rules that govern them all.”

San Francisco Chronicle


“Robson delights us… She revels in the language and reveals the Japanese as a poetic, witty people.”

The Washington Post


“Breathtaking… Intriguing… It reminds us that the Japanese regard eroticism as an art, a skill as cultivated as flower arranging and pouring tea.”

Boston Sunday Herald


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Get fascinating insights about the book and Japan,
on Lucia’s “Letters From Japan” page

“Your Tokaido Road is great. It’s not flattery. Truly, it’s the best that I’ve ever read. Thank you very much that you wrote such a book.”



“I just finished The Tokaido Road and what a rollicking ride it was! I loved your plucky heroine and the density of your research permeates the pages. Beautifully done!”

Donna Meredith


“I just started The Tokaido Road yesterday and it’s so marvelous I can’t put it down! It’s dense, involving, and the detail is spot-on… This book is so far ahead of the pack of the usual offerings of other ‘name’ authors I can’t understand why there isn’t a fan club…”

Jane Kohut Bartels

There are many places along The Tokaido Road that have not changed much since the early 1700s. Lucia lived in Japan in 1970 and made three more trips in the late 1980s to research this book.

Lucia at the grave site of the 47 ronin in 1970

Lucia at the grave site
of the 47 ronin in 1970

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