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De boogschutter van Hirado

A boy from Holland and a Japanese girl fight for their lives in this new historic youth novel by award-winning author Rob Ruggenberg.

Based on true events The Archer of Hirado tells the heartbreaking story of the forbidden love of Reyer for Sakura, the daughter of a samurai.

In Hirado, in the far southwest of Japan, the VOC has built a giant trading post. Young Reyer is sent there to learn the trade. His Dutch teachers only think of money and power.

Reyer's direct boss, a Dutch merchant, marries Sakura, the young daughter of Mondo Ukibashi. No one knows that her father, a sly samurai, wants her to spy on the Dutch. The girl hates her old, smelly husband.

Shichizaemon, the son of an infamous Chinese pirate, living in nearby Kawachi, teaches Reyer how to shoot the yumi, the extremely long Japanse bow.

And then everything goes wrong.

In this ancient Japan, full of Christian persecution, oppression and violence, Reyer falls in love with Sakura and puts his life on the line to save her. He uses the yumi and forsakes his future with the VOC.

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Almost everyone has heard of Dejima, the artificial island in Nagasaki, where the Dutch East-Indian Company VOC held a trading post for more than two centuries.

But hardly anyone knows what went on before that period, when the VOC was home to Hirado, a small island about 100 kilometers north of Nagasaki.

About these first thirty years of the VOC in Japan very little is known. From dusty archives Ruggenberg brought unbelievable facts to the surface, often forgotten or simply unknown.

Ruggenberg also lived for some time in Hirado, to become familiar with the landscape and the setting where the story unfolds.

Friendly Japanese - adults and children - helped him to discover the remnants of the old Dutch presence.

All these findings he used to sketch a compelling picture of the Japanese society in the 17th century, and the bizarre role of the VOC played then.

The tale of the desperate love of Reyer for Sakura is a story you will never forget.

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In September 2015 De boogschutter van Hirado won the prestigious Prize of the Childrens Jury of the Thea Beckman Prize, for the best historical youth novel of the last two years.

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De boogschutter van Hirado was written for boys and girls 10-15 years old. Publisher: Querido Stuur Rob een e-mail Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2013.