Wednesday, July 5, 2023

IWSG and Today's read... The House of the Lost on the Cape by Sachiko Kashiwaba

It's IWSG time! Okay, I'm a little late...and had to add this in today. But I did not forget completely! 

IWSG is an amazing community of writers, which offers support, inspiration, tips, and more. It was founded by the just as amazing Alex J. Cavanaugh and has grown by leaps and bounds in so many ways. Anyway, we meet the first Wednesday of every month in a blog hop and answer a question, add some thoughts, or whatever else hits our writer's hearts. 

A special thanks goes to this month's co-hosts: PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, Gwen Gardner, Pat Garcia, and Natalie Aguirre!

July 5 question - 99% of my story ideas come from dreams. Where do yours predominantly come from?

I'm a bit late with this post today. Summer isn't exactly the quietest time of year on the farm. So, I'm sticking with the question.

My ideas do not come from dreams, although my dreams are packed to the gills! My story ideas come from the world around me and life. My daughter's ballet classes, stories from my in-laws about their childhoods, sights and places few seem to have ever heard about, my favorite toys as a child, working as a teen, things I've seen... the list goes on and on. I like to travel, move around, and try new things, while stressing my own boundaries (in small ways). The world is a huge, exciting place, and I've learned that reality is often more amazing and crazy than fantasy could ever be.

What about you? Where do your ideas come from?


I've had my sights on today's read for awhile now and have been itching to finally have time to take a peek. It has done very well in Asia and has even been transformed into an anime film. This is it's American debut (in September). I'm hoping this one will be quite fun since it mixes historical events with myth and more. 

by Sachiko Kashiwaba
Translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa
Illustrated by Yukiko Saito
Restless Books
Middle Grade Magical Realism
240 pages
ages 8 to 12


In the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, Yui, fleeing her violent husband, and Hiyori, a young orphan, are taken in by a strange but kindly elder named Kiwa in the small town of Kitsunezaki. The newly formed family finds refuge in a mayoiga, a lost house, perched atop a beautiful cape overlooking the sea. While helping to rebuild Kitsunezaki, the three adapt to their new lives and mysterious new home, slowly healing from their pasts. Kiwa regales Yui and Hiyori with local legends—from the shapeshifting fox-woman who used to roam the mountains to the demon Agame and a sea snake who once preyed upon the grief and fears of the townspeople, until they trapped the snake in an underwater cave. 

But when peculiar, sinister events begin happening around town, the three fear the worst. Did the earthquake release Agame and the sea snake into the world again? Kiwa, Yui, and Hiyori join forces with a merry ban of kappa river spirits, a bold zashiki warashi house spirit, and flying Jizo guardian statues to save their new community and banish Agame and the snake once and for all. Now, a hit anime film, The House of the Lost on the Cape is a heartwarming tale about the strength of family and friendship in the face of natural and supernatural forces.


Fantasy with heart—three words are all I need to describe this tale. These pages not only let dreams fly but set friendship, family, and determination against demons inside and out.

Hiyori, an orphan, was on her way to meet and live with an uncle, whom she knew nothing about, when the earthquake hit. Alone in a gym crowded with survivors, she meets Yui and Kiwa. Yui's running away from her abusive husband, while Kiwa is a cheerful grandmother with more than a few secrets. The three women bond, especially after a tsunami wipes out everything around them. Under Kiwa's suggestion, they head together to a small town and a house on a cape. It's almost like paradise until something evil begins to slaughter the small animals in the area. Kiwa seems to know more than she's letting on, but Hiyori needs to learn to overcome more than this physical monster. First, she must defeat the one in her heart.

This read has been translated from Japanese and is rich with the culture, myth, and life style. It takes place after the disaster of 2011 and does an amazing job at diving into several problems people faced at that time, while swimming effortlessly in the realm of myth and fantasy mixed into the modern world. While it exposes the tough issue which Yui faces as an abused wife escaping from her husband, it only touches it lightly enough to give her character depth. I was afraid this aspect might pull it out of the middle grade category, but it didn't. Hiyori keeps it grounded right along with the wonders surrounding the elderly Kiwa, whose secrets invite to impossible realms while maintaining the warmth of a grandmotherly embrace.

After starting with the tension of the earthquake and tsunami, the tale allows the three characters to settle in with each other, but it's never boring. Not only do the grandmother's tales keep it interesting, but Kappas, Jizo, and other creatures add a whimsical atmosphere to counter the more evil ones. In this way, it reminds a bit of Spirited Away. All along, the inner struggles of, especially, Hiyori and her past come to light. Together, it makes an engaging read, which will have readers wishing they could move to that thatched house on the cape themselves.

And here they are...

Sachiko Kashiwaba is a prolific writer of children’s and young adult fantasy whose career spans more than four decades. Her works have garnered the prestigious Sankei, Shogakukan, and Noma children’s literature awards, and her novel The Marvelous Village Veiled in Mist influenced Hayao Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away. Her works have recently been animated as the films The Wonderland and The House of the Lost on the Cape, and her novel Temple Alley Summer, illustrated by Miho Satake and translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa, won the American Library Association’s 2022 Mildred L. Batchelder Award. She lives in Morioka, Iwate.

Yukiko Saito is a graphic designer and illustrator originally from Aomori, Japan. She studied textile arts in the fine arts and crafts teacher training program within the Faculty of Education, Iwate University. She lives in Iwate Prefecture.

Avery Fischer Udagawa grew up in Kansas and studied English and Asian Studies at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She holds an MA in advanced Japanese studies from the University of Sheffield. She has studied at Nanzan University, Nagoya, on a Fulbright fellowship, and at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, Yokohama. She writes, translates, and works in international education near Bangkok, where she lives with her bicultural family.


Pat Garcia said...

I too find out that the best place to get new ideas is opening yourself up to examine the world around you.
All the best.
Shalom shalom

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It is indeed a huge, exciting place!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are so many crazy things out there that you just can't make up!

Natalie Aguirre said...

I get my ideas from all around me like you. And this sounds like an awesome story. I really like the Japanese setting and am into contemporary fantasies these days.