Thursday, March 10, 2016

Japanese Literature

Japan. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 5 Feb 2016.
Konbanwa! That's "Good evening" in Japanese. Our culture gets a lot of Japanese influences, don't you think? We're reading Haruki Murakami; we're tidying up using the KonMari method; we're watching films by Hayao Miyazaki; we're playing kawaii games like Neko Atsume on our phones; there are 14 restaurants listed in Albuquerque's "Best Ramen" list on Yelp; and, it looks like New Mexico will be getting our first "cat cafe" - a phenomenon already very popular in Japan - soon.

There have certain been several famous Japanophiles (the Japanese would call them "shinnichi") throughout history, from Lafcadio Hearn to Gwen Stefani.There's even a Japanophiles! Group on Goodreads and you can watch a series called Begin Japanology on YouTube - the first episode is about Bento.

But to truly immerse yourself in the culture of a country, we recommend reading some of its best known literature. Here are some recommended reads from Japanese literature, from the classics to more recent.

Kusamakura by Natsume Sōseki

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

Somersault by Kenzaburo Oe

The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima [eBook]

Out by Natsuo Kirino 

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino 

Silence by Shūsaku Endō 

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro [eBook]

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

The Tales of the Heike translated by Burton Watson [eBook]

If there are any other Japanese books you want to recommend, let us know in the comments! Shitsurei shimasu! [translation “I’m being rude by leaving your presence”]


5 Essential Japanese Writers [Book Riot] 

Julith Jedamus's top 10 Japanese novels [The Guardian]

Japan: The Official Guide [Japan National Tourism Organization] 

The Great Divide: How Sushi Culture Differs in America Versus Japan [First We Feast]

Japan's Ministry of Cool [The Atlantic]

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