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Best Books About Japan

Recommendations from 14 articles, Barack Obama, Harry Styles, PewDiePie and 13 others.
25 books on the list
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A Geek in Japan
Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony (Revised and Expanded with New Topics)
Hector Garcia - Jun 25, 2019 (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
Banana Yoshimoto - Apr 17, 2006 (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...
Hirohito And The Making Of Modern Japan
Herbert P Bix - Aug 22, 2000
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Winner of the Pulitzer PrizeIn this groundbreaking biography of the Japanese emperor Hirohito, Herbert P. Bix offers the first complete, unvarnished look at the enigmatic leader whose sixty-three-year reign ushered Japan into the modern world. Never before has the full life of this controversial figure been revealed with such clarity and vividness....
Min Jin Lee - Nov 14, 2017
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...
Spring Snow
The Sea of Fertility, 1
Yukio Mishima - Apr 14, 1990 (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 ...
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Rice, Noodle, Fish
Deep Travels Through Japan's Food Culture
Matt Goulding - Oct 27, 2015
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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 ...
Recommended by
Anthony Bourdain
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Haruki Murakami - Oct 21, 1997 (first published in 1994)
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Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II. In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's mi...
Recommended by
Brian Koppelman
The Rape of Nanking
The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II
Iris Chang - Jan 10, 2012 (first published in 1997)
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The New York Times bestselling account of one of history's most brutal -- and forgotten -- massacres, when the Japanese army destroyed China's capital city on the eve of World War II In December 1937, one of the most horrific atrocities in the long annals of wartime barbarity occurred. The Japanese army swept into the ancient city of Nanking (what ...
Recommended by
Jordan Peterson
Memoirs of a Geisha
A Novel
Arthur Golden - Jan 10, 1999 (first published in 1997)
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A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are traine...
Recommended by
Alice Little
Embracing Defeat
Japan in the Wake of World War II
John W. Dower - Jun 17, 2000 (first published in 1999)
Goodreads Rating
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the 1999 National Book Award for Nonfiction, finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize and the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, Embracing Defeat is John W. Dower's brilliant examination of Japan in the immediate, shattering aftermath of World War II.Drawing on a vast range of Japanese sources and illustrated with dozens of ...
Bending Adversity
Japan and the Art of Survival
David Pilling - Mar 13, 2014
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In Bending Adversity, Financial Times Asia editor David Pilling presents a fresh vision of Japan, drawing on his own deep experience, as well as observations from a cross section of Japanese citizenry, including novelist Haruki Murakami, former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, industrialists and bankers, activists and artists, teenagers and octoge...
Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson
Tokyo Vice by Jake Adelstein
A Modern History of Japan by Andrew Gordon
Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
Shogun by James Clavell
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki
Lost Japan by Alex Kerr
A Concise History of Japan by Brett L. Walker
The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume