Cloud of Sparrows is the first novel of a duology by Takashi Matsuoka. The events occur primarily in 1860s Japan with flashbacks in the United States and Japan.
Okumichi no kami Kiyori meets across a gap of about 500 years with Shizuka. After Kiyori agrees to "spend the night" with the spirit woman, He tells Hanako, one of his housemaids, that he is sendng her to serve his grandson, Okumichi no kami Genji.
On January 1, Okumichi no kami Genji awakes in Edo and discusses the arrival of another American ship—the Star of Bethlehem, carrying Christian missionaries—with his mistress Mayonaka no Heiko. At the same time, in a different building, Kawakami Eichi, the chief of the Shogun's secret police, observes the ship and is told by his lieutenant, Mukai, that it carries three missionaries and a supply of bibles. Mukai also tells Kawakami that the missionaries are to be received by Okumichi no kami Genji, who has recently become the Great Lord of Akaoka following the death of his grandfather, Kiyori. Kawakami observes two of the missionaries, a man and a woman, through a telescope. Below decks, Matthew Stark wakes armed with a gun and knife. After he is sure he is safe, he hides the weapons and joins Zephaniah Cromwell and Emily Gibson on deck. At Mushindo Monastery, the abbot Sohaku—who had formerly commanded the cavalry of Lord Kiyori—ordered Taro to take breakfast to Lord Shigeru and to do so carefully. Taro arrives at Shigeru's cell and learns that Shigeru has fouled the room. Shigeru is describing an event in which men fly through the air in ships of metal to Hiroshima. Taro goes to get help cleaning the room but leaves the door unlocked. Shigeru escapes after wounding two men and barricades himself in the monastery armory. Back in Edo, Zephaniah, Emily and Matthew take a boat ashore; their destination is the Quiet Crane Palace. Emily is fearful about what Japanese will think when they see her.