The best 18 Japanese books

How do we create content on this page?

What's Strange Weather in Tokyo about?

Strange Weather in Tokyo is a heartwarming novel by Hiromi Kawakami that tells the story of a lonely woman in her thirties who unexpectedly reconnects with her old high school teacher. Set in modern-day Tokyo, the book explores themes of companionship, love, and the beauty of everyday life. With its gentle pace and vivid descriptions, it offers a unique glimpse into Japanese culture and the complexities of human relationships.

Who should read Strange Weather in Tokyo?

  • Readers who enjoy quiet, introspective stories

  • Those interested in exploring the complexities of human relationships

  • People who appreciate Japanese culture and literature


What's A Pale View of Hills about?

A Pale View of Hills is a thought-provoking novel by Kazuo Ishiguro that delves into themes of memory, guilt, and the impact of the past on the present. Set in post-World War II Japan, the story follows a woman named Etsuko as she reflects on her life and the choices she has made. With beautiful prose and a haunting atmosphere, this book will captivate readers and leave them pondering its deeper meanings long after they turn the final page.

Who should read A Pale View of Hills?

  • Readers who enjoy introspective and atmospheric storytelling

  • Those interested in exploring themes of memory, loss, and cultural identity

  • People who appreciate subtle and nuanced character development


What's South of the Border, West of the Sun about?

South of the Border, West of the Sun is a novel by Haruki Murakami that delves into the complexities of love, loss, and the choices we make. It follows the life of Hajime, a successful businessman who is reunited with a childhood friend, Shimamoto. As they rekindle their friendship, Hajime is forced to confront the consequences of his past actions and the unfulfilled desires of his heart.

Who should read South of the Border, West of the Sun?

  • Readers who enjoy introspective and atmospheric novels

  • Those interested in exploring the complexities of human relationships and emotions

  • Individuals who appreciate lyrical prose and evocative storytelling


What's Confessions of a Mask about?

Confessions of a Mask is a powerful and introspective novel by Yukio Mishima. It delves into the inner thoughts and struggles of a young man as he grapples with his homosexuality and societal expectations in pre-World War II Japan. Through beautiful prose and raw honesty, Mishima explores themes of identity, desire, and the masks we wear to navigate the complexities of life.

Who should read Confessions of a Mask?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the complexities of human sexuality and identity

  • Individuals who appreciate introspective and thought-provoking literature

  • Those who enjoy novels that offer a unique and nuanced perspective on societal norms and expectations


What's An Artist of the Floating World about?

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro is a thought-provoking novel that delves into the complexities of memory, regret, and personal responsibility. Set in post-World War II Japan, it follows the life of Masuji Ono, a renowned artist who reflects on his past and grapples with the choices he made during a time of political and social upheaval. Through Ono's introspective narrative, Ishiguro skillfully explores themes of guilt, loyalty, and the elusive nature of truth.

Who should read An Artist of the Floating World?

  • Readers interested in exploring themes of memory, regret, and personal responsibility

  • Those who appreciate character-driven narratives with rich, nuanced protagonists

  • Individuals who enjoy thought-provoking literature that offers insights into cultural and historical contexts


What's Killing Commendatore about?

Killing Commendatore is a mesmerizing novel by Haruki Murakami that delves into the world of art, creativity, and the complexities of human connection. Set in Japan, the story follows a talented painter who embarks on a journey of self-discovery after discovering a mysterious painting and uncovering dark secrets. With Murakami's trademark blend of magical realism and profound storytelling, this book is a thought-provoking exploration of identity and the power of art.

Who should read Killing Commendatore?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and surreal storytelling

  • Art enthusiasts who appreciate the exploration of creativity and inspiration

  • Individuals looking for a deep and immersive reading experience


7
Japanese Books: Out by

What's Out about?

Out by Natsuo Kirino is a gripping and darkly compelling thriller that delves into the lives of four women who become entangled in a murder and its cover-up. Set in Tokyo, the novel explores themes of female empowerment, societal expectations, and the consequences of desperate choices. With its intense plot and complex characters, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Who should read Out?

  • Readers who enjoy dark and gritty crime fiction

  • Those interested in exploring the lives of women living on the fringes of society

  • People who appreciate complex and morally ambiguous characters


What's Memoirs of a Geisha about?

Memoirs of a Geisha is a captivating novel that delves into the hidden world of 1930s Kyoto, Japan. Written by Arthur Golden, it tells the story of a young girl named Chiyo who is sold into the life of a geisha. From her training to her eventual rise as one of the most renowned geishas of her time, the book offers a fascinating glimpse into the customs, traditions, and sacrifices of the geisha culture.

Who should read Memoirs of a Geisha?

  • Anyone interested in Japanese culture and tradition
  • Readers who enjoy immersive and descriptive storytelling
  • Individuals curious about the hidden world of geishas and their experiences

What's Lost Japan about?

Lost Japan is a captivating exploration of traditional Japanese culture and the rapid modernization that has caused it to disappear. Drawing on his own experiences living in Japan, Alex Kerr delves into various aspects of the country's heritage, from ancient art forms to rural landscapes, shedding light on the challenges they face in the modern world. With a mix of personal anecdotes and insightful analysis, Kerr offers a thought-provoking reflection on the importance of preserving Japan's cultural identity.

Who should read Lost Japan?

  • Readers who are curious about Japanese culture and society

  • Travel enthusiasts who want to explore the lesser-known aspects of Japan

  • Individuals interested in the challenges and changes facing traditional Japanese arts and architecture


What's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World about?

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a mind-bending novel by Haruki Murakami that delves into the realms of consciousness and identity. Set in parallel worlds, it follows a data processor who finds himself caught in a sinister plot, and a man who enters a strange, isolated town where the boundaries between reality and fantasy blur. With its unique blend of mystery, science fiction, and philosophical exploration, this book will leave you questioning the nature of existence.

Who should read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World?

  • Readers who enjoy surreal and thought-provoking narratives

  • Those interested in exploring the complexities of human consciousness

  • Individuals who appreciate unique and unconventional storytelling


What's The Decay of the Angel about?

The Decay of the Angel is a thought-provoking novel by Yukio Mishima that delves into themes of mortality, spirituality, and the passage of time. It follows the story of a young boy named Tōru and his unlikely relationship with an elderly man named Honda. As their lives intertwine, the novel explores the complexities of human existence and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world.

Who should read The Decay of the Angel?

  • Readers who enjoy philosophical and introspective literature

  • Individuals interested in exploring the complexities of human relationships and emotions

  • Those who appreciate thought-provoking narratives that challenge conventional perspectives


What's Underground about?

Underground by Haruki Murakami is a gripping non-fiction book that delves into the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack. Through interviews with survivors, cult members, and others involved, Murakami uncovers the events leading up to the attack, the motivations behind it, and its aftermath. This thought-provoking book explores the complexities of human nature and the impact of this tragic event on Japanese society.

Who should read Underground?

  • Readers who are curious about the human psyche and the motivations behind extreme acts

  • Individuals interested in exploring the complexities of society and the impact of collective beliefs

  • Those who enjoy thought-provoking non-fiction that challenges conventional perspectives


What's The Samurai's Garden about?

The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama is a beautiful novel set in 1930s Japan. It tells the story of a young Chinese man named Stephen who travels to a small Japanese village to recover from tuberculosis. There, he meets a group of unforgettable characters and learns important life lessons about love, friendship, and the beauty of the natural world.

Who should read The Samurai's Garden?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in Japan during World War II

  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of resilience, friendship, and personal growth

  • Those who appreciate lyrical and evocative prose that transports them to a different time and place


What's The Setting Sun about?

The Setting Sun is a novel by Japanese author Osamu Dazai. Set in post-World War II Japan, it tells the story of a family in decline as they struggle to adapt to a rapidly changing society. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Kazuko, the book explores themes of alienation, loss, and the search for meaning in a world that seems to be falling apart.

Who should read The Setting Sun?

  • Readers who enjoy introspective and character-driven narratives

  • Those interested in exploring themes of existentialism and societal change

  • People who appreciate lyrical and evocative writing


What's Thousand Cranes about?

Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata is a haunting tale of love, loss, and the intricacies of human relationships. Set in post-war Japan, the novel delves into the lives of its characters as they navigate the complexities of tradition, modernity, and their own desires. Through beautiful prose and rich symbolism, Kawabata weaves a captivating story that lingers in the reader's mind long after the final page.

Who should read Thousand Cranes?

  • Readers who enjoy introspective and character-driven novels

  • Those interested in Japanese culture, traditions, and aesthetics

  • Individuals who appreciate subtle and nuanced storytelling


What's The Sound of Waves about?

The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima is a captivating novel that tells the story of a young fisherman named Shinji and the beautiful Hatsue, daughter of the wealthiest man in their village. Set on a remote island in Japan, the book explores themes of love, class differences, and the power of nature. With its lyrical prose and vivid descriptions, it transports readers to a world of simplicity and beauty.

Who should read The Sound of Waves?

  • Readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories set in a unique cultural context

  • Those interested in exploring the themes of love, social class, and traditional values

  • People who appreciate lyrical and evocative writing that transports them to a different place and time


What's The Street of a Thousand Blossoms about?

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms is a beautifully written novel by Gail Tsukiyama that delves into the lives of two brothers, Hiroshi and Kenji, as they navigate the challenges of growing up in Tokyo during and after World War II. Set against the backdrop of a changing Japan, the book explores themes of family, love, and resilience, while offering a glimpse into the country's rich cultural heritage.

Who should read The Street of a Thousand Blossoms?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in Japan

  • People interested in the impact of World War II on Japanese society

  • Those who appreciate stories about family, resilience, and personal growth


What's The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea about?

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea is a thought-provoking novel by Yukio Mishima that delves into themes of honor, betrayal, and the clash between individual desires and societal expectations. Set in post-war Japan, it tells the story of a young boy named Noboru and his mother, who becomes involved with a sailor named Ryuji. As the plot unfolds, the book explores the dark and complex motivations of its characters, ultimately leading to a shocking and unforgettable climax.

Who should read The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea?

  • Readers who enjoy psychological explorations of human nature

  • Those interested in themes of youth, rebellion, and societal norms

  • People who appreciate complex characters and thought-provoking narratives


Related Topics

Japanese Books
 FAQs 

What's the best Japanese book to read?

While choosing just one book about a topic is always tough, many people regard Strange Weather in Tokyo as the ultimate read on Japanese.

What are the Top 10 Japanese books?

Blinkist curators have picked the following:

    Who are the top Japanese book authors?

    When it comes to Japanese, these are the authors who stand out as some of the most influential: