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Japanese books recommendation 2018/3/31 06:01
I am planning a trip to Japan this summer for three weeks. Since I love reading and I've been learning Japanese for a while, I would love to bring back some books in Japanese, preferably some popular contemporary literature. Would anyone be able to recommend me something? I don't really care about how difficult the book is, also I am not looking for manga, but actual novels.
by TrinityE  

Re: Japanese books recommendation 2018/3/31 15:35
Go to amazon.co.jp and search for books. You can do it in English or Japanese. Their suggestions often start with the newest or most popular books. Check out the ratings and see which authors get ranked highly. You can search for them in English, or figure out their names in kanji. Amazon will deliver to your hotel, sometimes on the same day, if you are in Tokyo, or usually by the next day.

Older Japanese fiction is great. Soseki (pictured on the \1000 banknote, Botchan, Wagahi wa Neko de Aru), Kawabata (Snow Country [Yuzawa, I think]), Tanizaki (Makioka Sisters), Murasaki (Genji, of course), and so on. All of these should be available in paperback, and in English as well as Japanese, just to check your translation or explain plot points. Or buy the Kindle editions, to save space & money.

You can also get an anthology of Japanese literature, in English, such as by Donald Keene.
by susan (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese books recommendation 2018/3/31 17:16
The writer I have seen most of while in Japan seems to have been Murakami. I was there when IQ84 came out & it was everywhere. I bought vol1 in Japanese but had to admit I couldnt read it and fall back to the translation. I have heard good things about Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama but havent read it myself yet.

I would visit a bookshop or two, look at the posters (possibly snap a surreptitious pic or two) & then try to work out what they were on the internet at the hotel in the evening before buying. I do something similar with cd's & it normally works out :)

Your question made me do some searching & I found this which is interesting and certainly makes me want to read some of the listed books: https://lithub.com/10-japanese-books-by-women-wed-love-to-see-in-engli...
by Stan Norrell rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese books recommendation 2018/3/31 18:46
Go to a book store in Japan and look at the books that are displayed with their front covers facing upward. The style is so-called "hira-zumi" and those are the books that the store wants to recommend.

The Naoki-sho is an annual award presented to the best novel leaning for entertainment, so those may be easier to read. Here is a list of winners.

I don't know what genre you prefer, but one of the Japanese books I read recently and liked was "Masato" by Iwaki Kei, released in 2015.

And another one which is "Chiisai Ouchi" by Nakajima Kyoko.

Hope it helps.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese books recommendation 2018/3/31 19:03
Those famous authors who susan taught can read at "Aozora Bunko". (free/no regist)
"Soseki" full name is "Natsume Soseki"(=Soseki Natsume/first name, last name) like this,
(Select the title and open the link for "XHTML" on the next page, also you can download as "zip" file.)
This is one of big famous title "Kokoro".

@ susan
It may be hard to search without full names.
The first three authors are called as their nick is right,
but we(Japanese) do not abbreviate the fourth one "Murasaki Shikibu".
Although she is called "Murasaki no -kimi/-ue" in her title.

@ TrinityE
I do not know where to go in Japan, but there are many big bookstores in big cities,
also many secondhand shops, "BOOKOFF(book off)" is the largest.
Non-famous titles are very cheap, you can purchase it from 108Y.
(about 1 USD, including sales tax 8%).
This is their online shopping web bargain price of modern Junbungaku(pure literature/belles-lettres ),
some titles are original of famous movies and TV-dramas.
(You can not order from overseas.)

And, public libraries are also good, just you can not rent.
If not a school closing day, you can also enter the university libraries,
their restaurants are also cheap and tasty, if possible add it in rainy day plan.

Also if you like manga and want to read a lot,
there are also "manga kissa(cafe)" that you can stay a lot.
But you may forgot enough sleep until next morning.

Japan summer is temp and humidity are high a lot,
so people are easy to gather at book stores and libraries where air conditioning worked.
(e-books users also increased very much already, but.)
by R.O.D (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese books recommendation 2018/4/1 06:42
I read the books in translation, but I would highly recommend Ariyoshi Sawako. She's not strictly speaking contemporary but I would argue a lot of her novels are still timely. I read the Doctor's Wife, the Twilight Years, and the River Ki.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese books recommendation 2018/4/7 14:33
Haruki Murakami, if you havenft read his books, is most popular. Most people love his books that were written before 2000.

Soseki Natsume is one of the greatest authors in Japan. I personally highly recommend his books, especially I Am A Cat and Botchan.

Ifm afraid that there are many rubbish contemporary novels in Japan so please be careful not to waste your time with them.
by walk-on (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese books recommendation 2018/4/7 19:16
Since a lot of people seem to be recommending the 19th century icon, Soseki, I'd like to point out that you should look for the newest versions of his novels. Like those of many authors, his novels have been re-published from time to time, and although the contents are the same, the newer ones use easier kanji and easier-to-read layout.

By the way, I'm more of a Ryunosuke Akutagawa or Junichiro Tanizaki reader when it comes to classics, though. In fact, Akutagawa's short novels are quite easy to understand and entertaining for everybody. I personally love "Mikan".
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese books recommendation 2018/4/7 23:34
As usual, Uco's comments are well worth reading.

Anyone using my suggested search terms would find publication dates listed in the results. Note also that even Amazon Japan uses both methods of writing Japanese names, family/given and given/family.

Many of the classic novels have been made into movies. Botchan is an example. Many are found in animated versions.
by susan (guest) rate this post as useful

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