Matsu the Samurai

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In Gail Tsukiyama’s The Samurai’s Garden Stephen was sent from China to Japan to recover from tuberculosis. He goes and stays in the small town of Tarumi with his family’s servant Matsu. During his stay with Matsu, Stephen discovers that there is more to Matsu than meets the eyes. Throughout the story, Stephen begins to see Matsu showing characteristics of a Samurai. One of the first characteristics we see in Matsu is his loyalty to Stephen’s family. Matsu’s parents had served Stephen’s grandfather in that house before him, and even after his parents had passed away, instead of moving away like his sister Fumiko did, he stayed and took care of the house and Stephen’s grandfather. In a sense, Matsu is the bodyguard and watcher of the house and family, just like how a samurai is to his lord.

Throughout the story Matsu seems to be a much respected man to everyone in Tarumi. Stephen even told Matsu that “You have a strong face. A face someone doesn’t forget. Like a samurai” (30). Matsu and Stephen are perfect examples, in it that Matsu is the samurai who must watch over his wealthier master which happens to be Stephen, who indeed is wealthy. Although Matsu is only a servant, Stephen shows great respect for him.

Matsu’s silence also brings out the samurai in him. His silence occurs in many parts of the book. At first, Stephen assumed that Matsu just didn’t like to engage in conversations, but Sachi explains how his silence is powerful when she told Stephen that “with Matsu, everything is in what he does not say” (59). His strength in silence guided him through his childhood to the present day. Because Matsu wasn’t the best looking guy when he was younger, he kept to himself and always stayed back at the house to help out his parents. I guess you can say he was born to become and samurai, unlike his sisters. Even when his younger sister Tomoko took her life, Matsu showed no emotions. He knew what she planned on doing the night that she did it, and he kept quiet....
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