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Best Books About Japan

Recommendations from 25 articles, Barack Obama, Harry Styles, PewDiePie and 22 others.
53 books on the list
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Pachinko book cover
Min Jin Lee - 2017-11-14
Goodreads Rating
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister pas...
A Geek in Japan book cover
A Geek in Japan
Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony (Revised and Expanded with New Topics)
Hector Garcia - 2019-06-25 (first published in 2011)
Goodreads Rating
Created specifically for fans of Japanese "cool culture," A Geek in Japan is one of the most iconic, hip, and concise cultural guides available. Reinvented for the internet age, it is packed with personal essays and hundreds of photographs and presents all the touchstones of traditional and contemporary culture in an entirely new way. A Geek in Jap...
Recommended by
Derek Sivers
Kitchen book cover
Banana Yoshimoto - 2006-04-17 (first published in 1988)
Goodreads Rating
Banana Yoshimoto's novels have made her a sensation in Japan and all over the world, and Kitchen, the dazzling English-language debut that is still her best-loved book, is an enchantingly original and deeply affecting book about mothers, love, tragedy, and the power of the kitchen and home in the lives of a pair of free-spirited young women in cont...
Lost Japan book cover
Lost Japan
Last Glimpse of Beautiful Japan
Alex Kerr - 2016-06-01 (first published in 1993)
Goodreads Rating
"An enchanting and fascinating insight into Japanese landscape, culture, history and future. Originally written in Japanese, this passionate, vividly personal book draws on the author's experiences in Japan over thirty years. Alex Kerr brings to life the ritualized world of Kabuki, retraces his initiation into Tokyo's boardrooms during the heady Bu...
Rice, Noodle, Fish book cover
Rice, Noodle, Fish
Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture
Matt Goulding - 2015-10-27
Goodreads Rating
2016 Travel Book of the Year by the Society of American Travel WritersFinalist for the 2016 IACP Awards: Literary Food WritingNamed one of the Financial Times' "Best Books of 2016"An innovative new take on the travel guide, Rice, Noodle, Fish decodes Japan's extraordinary food culture through a mix of in-depth narrative and insider advice, along wi...
Recommended by
Anthony Bourdain
The Makioka Sisters book cover
The Makioka Sisters
Junichiro Tanizaki - 1995-09-26 (first published in 1948)
Goodreads Rating
In Osaka in the years immediately before World War II, four aristocratic women try to preserve a way of life that is vanishing. As told by Junichiro Tanizaki, the story of the Makioka sisters forms what is arguably the greatest Japanese novel of the twentieth century, a poignant yet unsparing portrait of a family–and an entire society–sliding into ...
A Tale for the Time Being book cover
A Tale for the Time Being
A Novel
Ruth Ozeki - 2013-12-31
Goodreads Rating
Hi! My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.On a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, a Hello Kitty lunchbox washes up on the beach. Tucked inside is the diary of a sixteen-year-old Japanese girl names Nao Yasutani. Ruth--a writer who finds the lunchbox--suspects tha...
Geisha, A Life book cover
Geisha, A Life
Mineko Iwasaki - 2003-09-01 (first published in 2002)
Goodreads Rating
"No woman in the three-hundred-year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story. We have been constrained by unwritten rules not to do so, by the robes of tradition and by the sanctity of our exclusive calling...But I feel it is time to speak out."Celebrated as the most successful geisha of her generation, Mineko Iwasa...
Strange Weather in Tokyo book cover
Strange Weather in Tokyo
A Novel
Hiromi Kawakami - 2017-11-14 (first published in 2001)
Goodreads Rating
Tsukiko, thirty-eight, works in an office and lives alone. One night, she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, "Sensei" in a local bar. Tsukiko had only ever called him "Sensei" ("Teacher"). He is thirty years her senior, retired, and presumably a widower. Their relationship, traced by Kawakami’s gentle hints at the changing seas...
Spring Snow book cover
Spring Snow
The Sea of Fertility, 1
Yukio Mishima - 1990-04-14 (first published in 1968)
Goodreads Rating
Yukio Mishimas Spring Snow is the first novel in his masterful tetralogy, The Sea of Fertility. Here we meet Shigekuni Honda, who narrates this epic tale of what he believes are the successive reincarnations of his friend, Kiyoaki Matsugae.  It is 1912 in Tokyo, and the hermetic world of the ancient aristocracy is being breached for the first time ...
Recommended by
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Embracing Defeat by John W. Dower
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Hirohito And The Making Of Modern Japan by Herbert P Bix
A Modern History of Japan by Andrew Gordon
The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
Bending Adversity by David Pilling
A History of Japan by George Sansom
The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi
Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein
An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri
Shogun by James Clavell
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
DK Eyewitness Japan by Eyewitness
In the Woods of Memory by Shun Medoruma
In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki
Izakaya by Mark Robinson
Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon
The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Matsuo Basho
Out by Natsuo Kirino
Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima
The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama
Daughters of the Samurai by Janice P. Nimura
Confessions of a Yakuza by Junichi Saga
A Brief History of Japan by Jonathan Clements
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda
The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe
Cool Japan Guide by Abby Denson
The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima
A Beginner's Guide to Japan by Pico Iyer
A Concise History of Japan by Brett L. Walker
The Bells of Old Tokyo by Anna Sherman
The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima