The 5 Most Interesting Japanese Novels You Should Read

Best Japanese-language books: It’s almost too easy to be sucked into the buzz surrounding Japan’s tourist rail system. Even though you haven’t yet gone, the excellent cuisine, breathtaking terrain, and charming people will have you falling in love with the nation.

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee

Pachinko is a book that has reached the top of various bestseller lists, has been nominated for numerous essential prizes and was awarded the Medici Book Club Prize, which was well-deserved. Pachinko’s affectingly written story is about a young Korean girl, the daughter of a disabled fisherman, who falls head over heels in love with a wealthy stranger. After discovering that she is pregnant and that the stranger who promised her the world is married, she takes the choice to refuse to be purchased by him and refuses to be sold.

A minister traveling through her town on his route to Japan instead approaches her with an offer of marriage, and she decides to accept his proposal to begin her next chapter in a strange nation with him. Perseverance, deep-rooted prejudice that has long existed in one of the world’s most culturally attractive nations, finding love when you least expect it, and commitment to one’s family and oneself are all explored in this incredible story.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms – Gail Tsukiyama

It is a beautifully nostalgic novel about two orphaned brothers who each had enormous and passionate goals, only to have them stifled by the repercussions of World War II. Hiroshi is a top sumo wrestling student who is on his way to becoming a rising force to be reckoned with.

At the same time, Kenji has a strong passion, or borderline obsession, with the ancient arts and crafts of Noh theatrical masks, which he describes as “borderline fixation.” However, as the conflict begins to seep into their sleepy, unassuming community, both brothers must face the difficult choice of whether or not to pursue their goals and therefore establish new pathways in their lives. The themes of tradition vs. change, love and devotion, and family are all explored in this masterwork.

A Tale for the Time Being – Ruth Ozeki

The protagonist of this sorrowful narrative is a young Japanese girl named Nao, who has experienced much too much in this world. She makes the terrible choice to depart the world, but not before recording the narrative and life of her great grandmother in a secret journal, utterly unaware that this diary would go on to influence the lives of many more people than she could have imagined in the process. Ruth is an author who lives on a secluded island in the middle of the ocean and chances to come upon Nao’s journal. She had no idea that picking up the Hello Kitty lunchbox that had washed up on the coast would have such a profound impact on her life.

Shogun – James Clavell

It is a tale of love, power, and the conflicting ideas of what it is to be faithful in this enthralling book by James Clavell. You come upon John Blackthorne, an Englishman whose ship was wrecked off the coast of Japan. Toranaga is a great feudal lord in Japan who is on a mission to grab ultimate power by becoming Shogun.

Lady Mariko is a gorgeous interpreter who has a significant influence on Toranaga’s life from that point on. It is through the lens of this book that the subtle intricacies of how foreigners were welcomed, or more specifically treated, in Japan are revealed, as well as how their lives are affected (for better or worse) as a result of being exposed to such a strange and unfamiliar society.

Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha is the international best-selling novel that brings this great list to a close. Several people may be familiar with this title since it was notably adapted into a film in 2005 starring Zhang Ziyi. Although we suggest reading the novel first if you haven’t already, we don’t advocate seeing the movie until you’ve finished reading it since certain intricacies don’t make it into the film. The narrative of Chiyo Sakamoto Sayuri, a little girl who is stolen from her family at the early age of nine and sold into slavery to a venerable geisha house, is beautifully told by Arthur Golden.

There, she honed her geisha skills, which include everything from dancing and singing to correctly donning a kimono, applying complex make-up smoothly, and pouring sake with the grace of a swan, among other things. The story goes deep into the delicate world of geishas, a society in which beauty is vital, love is considered an illusion, and hierarchy is of the utmost significance, among other things.

We hope you have a good time exploring our list of the finest books about Japan and that you come away with a few of our recommendations in hand! With Japan being such a very engaging and exciting nation, we can’t imagine a better method to learn about the country’s subtleties than via appropriate nonfiction historical and cultural literature, as well as fanciful fiction novels. To understand Japanese culture, you may check out this blog article about traditional Japanese masks if you want to continue your education.