Japan Famous Literature – Choosing the fifty best Japanese books ever written is a herculean task, leaving out many great literary works. After all, Japan has produced some of the world’s greatest writers, past and present, with styles that borrow from and are heavily informed by Western literature. But here are 50 books that together tell the rich history of Japanese literature
The list includes classic novels, groundbreaking works of contemporary fiction, autobiographical books, solo anthologies, and some manga. These books are presented in no particular order – so what will be your top 10?
Japan Famous Literature
Murasaki Shikibu was an educated noblewoman from the Heian period in Japan and the author of what is believed to be the world’s first novel.
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Widely regarded as the finest works of literature in Japanese history, the ukiyo-e artists of the Edo period devoted their lives to visually recreating scenes from Shikibu’s block-printed novels (see The Tale of Genji in Japanese). Art) Few works are so revered
Why should I read this book? This is the story of Meiji-era Japan from the perspective of Japan’s beloved domestic animal
A surprise for the nation’s favorite and most accessible cats Soseki’s novel, written in the early 1800s, is also a portrait of the fusion of East and West that Japan experienced during the Meiji era. Told from the perspective of the protagonist cat who eavesdrops on the neighborhood’s gossiping residents, Soseki has created an essential work of Japanese literature that has stood the test of time.
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A skirt is as funny as it is a powerful thinker The Woman in the Yellow Cardigan is our narrator, a stream-of-consciousness voyeur who is obsessed with the woman in the purple skirt. The story moves between the narrator and his subject, enveloped in the world of office politics and pressured by social mores. This originality of style and prose helped Imamura win the prestigious 2019 Akutagawa Book Prize.
His condition provides deep insight into the psyche of those diagnosed Using a “cardboard keyboard,” Higashida learns to communicate his feelings, emotions, and capacity for emotion, as illustrated in this heartbreaking story; Exploring the Inner Workings of the Autistic Mind The translation by author David Mitchell and his wife Kay Yoshida is especially moving, as Higashida’s story allowed them to understand their autistic child in a way they never imagined.
Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata is one of Japan’s most beloved and respected novelists. Possessing an incredible skill with words, he wrote some of the most beautiful novels ever written While there is endless debate about one of his best works,
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A love story between a man from Tokyo and a girl who lives and works in a mountain onsen town. It is fragile and strong, and the poetry is wonderful
Kenzaburo is one of Japan’s Nobel laureates, and his books are often intimate family works that touch on politics, but also focus on the pain that comes with family.
His most polished and rounded example of this theme, set in the 1970s, tells the story of two brothers who return to their childhood village. One departs from Tokyo and the other from the USA Both have newfound baggage and carry it with them into a home transformed by the tide of modernity This is a book of personal and national change; A brutal and sharp novel, but a work of true mastery
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The most famous Japanese novelist, the most beloved writer in the country is undoubtedly Natsume Soseki This fascinating novelist has written many precious books, but his best is surely
(Heart) Set between Kamakura and Tokyo, this three-part novel explores the relationship between a young and impressionable man and his much-admired sensei. It switches perspective halfway through, providing a moving, detailed and clear three-dimensional perspective of these men and their relationships. For more, check out The 20 Best Japanese Writers of All Time
Why should I read this book? It is a short story about Japanese honor and the struggle for survival
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It was named after the ruined gate of southern Kyoto (which was later named after the famous play of Noah). Akutagawa’s short story is about a servant who finds himself in a broken Rashomon, starving until he meets an old woman at the gate who has already made her choice. The story, which is often sold as part of a collection, was named the most prestigious Japanese literary award by the same Akutagawa.
Why should I read this book? This is a semi-autobiographical account of one of the greatest Japanese writers of the Meiji era.
The idea of the struggle of traditional life with Western assimilation was a common theme in 20th century Japanese literature, and
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Deals with this trope in such an enduring way that it is one of Japan’s best-selling novels. Told through the diary entries of protagonist Oba Jojo (in many ways a facsimile of the author), it depicts a troubled character hiding behind a clown mask as he battles his inner demons. Cleverly juxtaposing the depths of psychological despair with the fleeting moments of connection that make life worth living, Dazai’s latest masterpiece will live long in the memory.
Why should I read this book? This is the rule book of the way of the warrior from Japan’s greatest warrior
In 1643, defeated after 61 duels, Japan’s most feared samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, retired to a cave tomb and wrote.
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, a research book on swordsmanship, strategy and the mind His clear and concise text The Martial Arts Manifesto remains the Holy Grail and is still used by practitioners nearly 400 years later. The book’s core teachings on self-control and hard work have proven so timeless that people from all walks of life have appropriated and used them in modern life.
The narrator follows Nastuka’s life in long vignettes separated by eight years. Natsuko is a writer who longs for children, but is repelled by thoughts of sex, and pursues a path normally forbidden to single Japanese women: artificial insemination. The book is a gritty examination of the struggles faced by working-class women in Japan, only heightened by Kawakami’s coarse Osaka dialect that is ever-present in her writing.
A novel of Japanese – and later world – literature, composed of poems and stories from the fourteenth century that grew out of the tradition of oral storytelling. Charting the course of the conflict between the major Heike and Genji factions, the book explores large-scale battles, struggles for daimyo power, the plight of ordinary people, and the interplay of spirituality and war. A classic for the ages and a must-read for any student of ancient Japanese history.
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Why should I read this book? These poems depict the unique serenity and dramatic beauty of the Japanese countryside
Basho’s is a combination of prose and poetry that represents a major work of Japanese poetry of the Edo period
Basho traveled with companions from Tokyo (or Edo, as it was then known) to the rural wildernesses of the north. It is a beautiful and descriptive exploration of the natural wonders of Edo Japan. There is nothing like it in the entire library of Japanese literature
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Why should I read this book? It is the controversial story of one of the darkest figures in Japanese literature
Yukio Mishima is a controversial figure to say the least. An outspoken fascist who committed suicide after a failed coup, he offers us some of the thoughts of literature that not only give us a window into his mind and demons, but also into changing modernity. 20th Century Japan The most transparent of his works
: A literary story about a little boy who becomes obsessed with his mother’s new boyfriend The Lover is a sailor whom the boy respects, until he chooses love over the great outdoors, and the boy sees it as betrayal. It is a difficult political figure and an important work of Japanese literature
Narihira’s Journey To The East Late 18th Century Rekisentei Eiri 礫川亭永理 Japanese The Ninth Chapter In The Tales Of Ise Is The Most Famous Passage Of The Text And One Of The
Why should I read this book? It is a unique insight into the world of a dead Japanese gentleman in post-war Osaka
Is Tanizaki’s magnum opus The story of a wealthy family of Osaka nobility at a pivotal moment in the 20th century when that special class of people began to fade into obscurity. In this respect, it follows the same theme and aesthetic as Downton Abbey. To this day, it is revered as one of the great classics of Japanese literature, capturing a transformative moment that will never be repeated.
Haruki Murakami is easily Japan’s most popular living writer, often predicted to win the Nobel Prize, but until now has been consistently overlooked. Murakami has a long list of works, most of which are surreal and famous
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