What are the best Japanese books?

asked by Anonymous
269 contributors
38 solutions
  1. 27

    #1Norwegian Wood

    Norwegian Wood
    When he hears her favorite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Toru is transported back almost 20 years to his days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of friendships,  sex, passion, loss, and desire.
    Books

    Check price

    Timothy Gomez
    Written on February 12, 2018
    "This is largely considered to be a Japanese classic, along the lines of our (US) own To Kill A Mockingbird, or the like. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I feel like something...is lost in the translation. I'm not entirely sure what it is, I only know that it's missing a little spark of...something."
  2. 25

    #2No Longer Human

    No Longer Human

    Osamu Dazai's No Longer Human is one of the most famous books in Japan with its detailed narration of a man's struggles with society, from the abuse he suffered in childhood to the alienation he felt as a teen and adult.

    Books

    Check price

    Marie Jordan
    Written on February 9, 2018
    "I enjoyed this book a lot. The plot and storyline of the book is so well written. I enjoy books that have the main characters look at themselves and want to decide their life path. At times what we want is often in conflict with tradition for family and that can make those decisions difficult. Reading this book and how this man carefully walks his own path is interesting and engaging. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good story line that allows us to look at our own selves in the process. "
  3. 25

    #3The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

    The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

    The Temple of the Golden Pavilion is Yukio Mishima's depiction of a young man whose childhood obsession led him to a path of violence later in life. This story is loosely adapted to the 22-year-old monk who burned the Kinkaku-ji in 1950.

    Books

    Check price

    Peter Ryan
    Written on February 9, 2018
    "Good read"
  1. 22

    #4The Housekeeper and the Professor

    The Housekeeper and the Professor

    Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor tells the inspiring story of a brilliant mathematician who has limited short-term memory because of brain damage, and his interactions with his housekeeper and her 10-year-old son.

    Books

    Check price

    Jerry Pearson
    Written on February 15, 2018
    "I am not very familiar with Japanese literature, though a friend did read this. I am not impressed by what I heard and this brief synopsis makes it seem quite boring. Of course it is a Japanese book so it does fit with the topic."
  2. 21

    #5The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

    The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
    The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea is Yukio Mishima's depiction of teenage angst and rebellion against the ideal adult life, and how their emotions can lead them to make terrible choices with irreparable consequences. 
    Books

    Check price

    Ayaan Jain
    Written on February 20, 2018
    "Another excellent book that's not very well known. Very well written and an excellent story. Even though the book is about a teenager, it's not for youngsters."
  3. 18

    #6Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (Deluxe Edition)

    Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (Deluxe Edition)
    Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories is a collection of Ryunosuke Akutagawa's short stories, most of which are set in medieval Japan featuring shoguns, priests, and peasants. The collection includes titles like 'The Nose', 'O-Gin', and 'Loyalty'.


    Books

    Check price

    George Henderson
    Written on February 19, 2018
    "This Japanese book has great reviews, and shows some Japanese culture and history. Not only will you be receiving a short story, but background information about Japan. This is a action filled book that will meet all your needs!"
  4. 18

    #7I Am a Cat: Three Volumes in One

    I Am a Cat: Three Volumes in One
    I Am a Cat is Soseki Natsume's comic book satirizing the attitude of the Japanese upper middle-class during the Meiji era. Centered around a sardonic but witty stray cat, Soseki describes the folly of the people around him.
    Books

    Check price

    Carl Dixon
    Written on February 15, 2018
    "Snarky cat? Count me in! I won't even mind the Japanese social commentary along the way."
  5. 16

    #8Kokoro

    Kokoro

    Natsumi Soseki's Kokoro is a novel attempts to describe the transition of the Japanese society from the old to the modern era by describing the friendship between a young man and his teacher, and later in the book, with his parents.

    Books

    Check price

    Austin Knight
    Written on February 18, 2018
    "I was looking for a book that would help me understand Japanese culture. With Kokoro, I found that I was completely immersed with the Japanese culture. Kokoro did very well helping me understand about a culture I was not aware of in the past. "
  6. 15

    #9The Tale of Genji: (Deluxe Edition)

    The Tale of Genji: (Deluxe Edition)
    Tale of Genji is an 11th-century classic written by Murasaki Shikibu. This epic portrays Prince Genji and the life of a monarch in the Heian period. This edition uses Royall Tyler's translation.
    Books

    Check price

    Emily Jacobs
    Written on February 12, 2018
    "This is considered the best early book written. It's a wonderful tale to follow. I highly recommend reading this."
  7. 13

    #10Grotesque

    Grotesque
    Grotesque is Natsuo Kirino's novel about the lives of two Tokyo prostitutes, from their time in high school to their struggles in adulthood, and eventually to their tragic deaths, all the while depicting femalehood and the Japanese society.
    Books

    Check price

    Jesse Wallace
    Written on February 7, 2018
    "Very unfamiliar with the topic but looks like it could be sufficient."
  8. 11

    #11Snow Country

    Snow Country
    Written by Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata, this classic Japanese novel narrates the love story between a wealthy dilettante named Shimamura and Komako, a provincial geisha, whose love is doomed to failure. 




    Books

    Check price

    Vincent May
    Written on April 9, 2018
    "Snow Country is written by the Nobel Prize winning author Yasunari Kawabata and many consider this to be his best book. Snow Country is rated 4 stars on Amazon so I'm not the only one who likes this book. I would recommend it to anyone. "
  9. 10

    #12The Woman in the Dunes

    The Woman in the Dunes

    Published in 1962, the book narrates the life of Jumpei Niki, a teacher who misses the last bus after going to a fishing village. He then is led by villagers to a house in the dunes that can only be reached by rope ladder, and he ends up forced to live there with a mysterious woman. 

    Books

    Check price

    William Ward
    Written on April 8, 2018
    "if you enjoy Japanese books then you will love this classic story. You can feel a full range of emotions and journey with Jumpei."
  10. 4

    #13After Dark

    After Dark

    After Dark is a standalone contemporary fiction novel written by Haruki Murakami which centers on the life of sisters Eri and Mari. This is originally published in Japanese and was translated into English. 

    Books

    Check price

    Robert Myers
    Written on May 14, 2018
    "A great Japanese novel is After Dark written by Haruki Murakami. This book was translated into English and it's a surreal psychological thriller about a young woman having a crazy night in Tokyo. This is a really fun book to read, I finished it in less than a week. "
  11. 3

    #14Out: A Novel

    Out: A Novel

    Out: A Novel is a Mystery, Thriller, Horror, Asian Literature, Fiction novel written by Natsuo Kirino and translated by Stephen Snyder. It was published January 4, 2005 by Vintage.

    Books

    Check price

    Tyler Wade
    Written on May 14, 2018
    "I'm not a fan, this is just another book in my opinion. It is fiction and the best books with Japan are NON fiction."
  12. 2

    #151Q84

    1Q84

    1Q84 is a fantasy fiction book written by Haruki Murakami which centers on a young woman named Aomame who follows a taxi driver's enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. 

    Books

    Check price

    Bella Zhang
    Written on February 14, 2018
    "I like to read this book with my niece. She makes it so much more interesting, as she spent 6 weeks in Japan one summer."
  13. 1

    #16Kafka on the Shore

    Kafka on the Shore

    Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The aging Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down.

    Books

    Check price

    Michelle Salazar
    Written on February 11, 2018
    "A fantastic book. The story-line is just amazing. This novel is something I could not put down. I read it all the way through in a few days. "
  14. 0

    #17Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I

    Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese I

    Genki I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese is a book by  Eri Banno that serves as a supplementary learning material for beginners in the Japanese language. 

    Books

    Check price

    Amber Gordon
    Written on March 15, 2018
    "When I picked up the book Genki I thought that I would be getting a bit of classic Japanese literature. The book was actually more of an educational book though. I did not find much use for it though as I am not trying to learn Japanese."
  15. 0

    #18Jpn-Tobira (Japanese and English Edition)

    Jpn-Tobira (Japanese and English Edition)

    Jpn-Tobira is a book by Mayumi Oka that serves as a guide for learners with intermediate knowledge in the Japanese Language. It opens the door for additional studies.

    Books

    Check price

    Devansh Gavde
    Written on March 25, 2018
    "This is probably the best book that I've read on learning Japanese. It's been incredibly helpful and I feel I've made mor progress than ever before!"
  16. 0

    #19Basic Connections: Making Your Japanese Flow

    Basic Connections: Making Your Japanese Flow

    Basic Connections: Making Your Japanese Flow is a book by Kakuko Shoji that guides learners how to create and pronounce words and phrases. It also widens the vocabulary and emotive expressions. 

    Books

    Check price

    Katherine Stone
    Written on March 19, 2018
    "This is a great way to pick up on the Japanese language. It really helps with conversation."
  17. 0

    #20Japanese the Manga Way: An Illustrated Guide to Grammar and Structure

    Japanese the Manga Way: An Illustrated Guide to Grammar and Structure

    Japanese the Manga Way is a book by Wayne Lammers that makes learning easy and fun. This book is in the form of a Manga so you will not be bored while learning the Japanese language.

    Books

    Check price

    Nicholas Freeman
    Written on April 7, 2018
    "The perfect solution for someone who is looking to take their Japanese/manga fandom to the next level. With this, learn all the tricks of Japanese grammar and structure, so that you can not only follow along better, but impress your friends with your knowledge."
  18. 0

    #21Yummi 'Gurumi

    Yummi 'Gurumi

    Yummi 'Gurumi: Over 60 Gourmet Crochet Treats to Make is a non-fiction book about knitting and crochet written by Christen Haden and Mariarosa Sala. It is published in 2010. 

    Books

    Check price

    Alan Matthews
    Written on April 24, 2018
    "This is another book I got for my mother to help her pass the time this past winter. She's been crocheting for years now, but I think she was always a little afraid to get out of her comfort zone with traditional patterns and techniques. This encouraged her to try something new and so far she's really enjoying herself."
  19. 0

    #22Kokeshi Style

    Kokeshi Style

    Kokeshi Style: Design Your Own Kokeshi Fashions is a children's non-fiction book about Japan written by Annelore Parot. It is first published in 2012 by Chronicle Books.

    Books

    Check price

    Joan Arnold
    Written on April 14, 2018
    "This fun activity book covers how to draw Kokeshi dolls, a pattern for coloring kimonos, drawing outfits and more. There is a beginner section with visual guides to draw dolls, heads, hairstyles and body shapes. This book is great for all ages."
  20. 0

    #23The Bear and the Paving Stone

    The Bear and the Paving Stone

    The Bear and the Paving Stone is a Japanese novella by Toshiyuki Horie which follows the story of a Japanese man traveling in Normandy and who talks about everything from literature to war. It was published in 2018 by Pushkin Press.

    Books

    Check price

    Sara Montgomery
    Written on May 18, 2018
    "This is a nice little story about a Japanese man. It's an interesting take on differences in cultures while he travels in Normandy. "
  21. 0

    #24Ms Ice Sandwich

    Ms Ice Sandwich

    Ms Ice Sandwich is a Japanese novella by Meiko Kawakami and Louise Heal Kawai which follows the story of a boy obsessed with a woman who sells sandwiches and whom he calls "Ms Ice Sandwich". It was published in 2017 by Pushkin Press.

    Books

    Check price

    Andrew Ford
    Written on May 7, 2018
    "I enjoy Japanese culture so much. Sure, there's all the tentacle rape porn, but when you get beyond that, you find the sandwiches. This is an adorable little book I read with my son, who has lately shown such fixations when we visit Subway."
  22. 0

    #25Slow Boat (Japanese Novellas)

    Slow Boat (Japanese Novellas)

    Slow Boat is a Japanese novella by Hideo Furukawa which follows the narrator who is trapped in Tokyo after having been left behind by his girlfriends. Propelled by his dreams, he attempts one last escape. It was published in 2017 by Pushkin Press.

    Books

    Check price

    Frank Jones
    Written on May 18, 2018
    "I had hoped this would be much better, but I was a bit disappointed. Slow Boat is written in a bit of a manic mode. The themes are slightly wacky and high energy antics don't make up for a great read. Overall, the plot was difficult to follow and there is some vulgar speech. I didn't really get that literary punch that I get from other novels and honestly would say to pass up this one."
  23. 0

    #26The End of the Moment We Had (Japanese Novellas)

    The End of the Moment We Had (Japanese Novellas)

    The End of the Moment We Had is a Japanese novella by Toshiki Okada which follows two stories, one of a couple who have a torrid love affair for days, and another a woman who despairs about her home. It was published in 2018 by Pushkin Press.

    Books

    Check price

    Kathleen Hansen
    Written on May 11, 2018
    "The End of the Moment We Had was an enjoyable read for me. Toshiki Okada is a writer's writer who presents simple, relatable storylines and elevates them to great heights with sublime prose. I highly recommend. "
  24. 0

    #27Record of a Night too Brief (Japanese Novellas)

    Record of a Night too Brief (Japanese Novellas)

    Record of a Night Too Brief is a Japanese novella by Hiromi Kawakami which is composed of three stories following three young women in their adventures of love, romance, and loss. It was published in 2017 by Pushkin Press.

    Books

    Check price

    Enrique Vega
    Written on May 18, 2018
    "There are three stories in Record of a Night too Brief (Japanese Novellas) by Hiromi Kawakami that depict three women experiencing loss and love. Record is one of the five of Hiromi's book to be translated into English. The English translations are well handled with clear and precise presentation but are probably still difficult for the typical American to comprehend."
  25. 0

    #28Spring Garden (Japanese Novellas)

    Spring Garden (Japanese Novellas)

    Spring Garden is a Japanese novella by Tomoka Shibasaki which follows the story of Taro, a divorced man who enters into an unusual relationship with one of his neighbors and the tale of the blue house nearby. It was published in 2017 by Pushkin Press.

    Books

    Check price

    There are no comments yet!

    Share your opinion
  26. 0

    #29Light on the Origins of Reiki

    Light on the Origins of Reiki

    Light on the Origins of Reiki: A Handbook for Practicing the Original Reiki of Usui and Hayashi is a book detailing how Mikao Usui came up with Reiki and how its applications were developed by Dr. Hayashi, particularly Byosen.

    Books

    Check price

    Fernando Cázares
    Written on March 10, 2018
    "Good book thta explains what Reiki is, if you're into spiritual things like this it's a good read."
  27. 0

    #30Ninja

    Ninja

    Ninja: The True Story of Japan's Secret Warrior Cult is a historical non-fiction book written by Stephen Turnbull. This Japanese literature novel is published in 1991 by Firebird Books Ltd.

    Books

    Check price

    Julie Bowman
    Written on April 18, 2018
    "This would be better if the topic had Nonfiction in it. The current topic makes me think of fiction or Manga. "
  28. 0

    #31Minna no Nihongo: Bk. 2

    Minna no Nihongo: Bk. 2

    Minna no Nihongo is a book by Author that will allow you to learn the basic Nihongo words and phrases just by reading this book. It is great for learners who are really eager to learn fats and efficiently. 

    Books

    Check price

    Jesse Soto
    Written on March 15, 2018
    "very good to help you learn Japanese. It is very expensive but would be worth it if you were moving there."
  29. 0

    #32Eros in Hell: Sex, Blood and Madness in Japanese Cinema

    Eros in Hell: Sex, Blood and Madness in Japanese Cinema
    Eros in Hell: Sex, Blood and Madness in Japanese Cinema (Creation Cinema Collection) is a Culture, Asian Literature, Non-fiction books written by Jack Hunter. It was published April 1, 1999 by Creation Books.
    Books

    Check price

    Kyle Barrett
    Written on May 8, 2018
    "For those interested in action, drama, sex and madness should look no further than Eros in Hell. For those looking for Japanese culture and history should definitely look into this book as not only do you feel you get your times worh in terms of action, you also get history and culture."
  30. 0

    #33Ninja

    Ninja
    Ninja: The Shadow Warrior is a historical non-fiction book written by Joel Levy. This Japanese reference book is first published in 2007. 
    Books

    Check price

    Lawrence Austin
    Written on April 18, 2018
    "This is a good choice if you are looking for non-fiction. However if you are looking for fiction, you might want something else. It's really good if you want to read about ninjas."
  31. 0

    #34Hiroshima No Pika

    Hiroshima No Pika
    Hiroshima No Pika is a picture book by Toshi Maruki. The book was first published in 1981 by HarperCollins under ISBN 0688012973. It won the 1983 Batchelder Award and the 1983 Jane Addams Children's Book Award.
    Books

    Check price

    Marilyn Curtis
    Written on May 16, 2018
    "This book details the destruction and devastation of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the United States. While it is a Japanese book, it covers a grim topic. It has decent reviews online but I am uncertain if it has achieved enough success to be called "the best" of Japanese books. There are so many options out there. Calling this one the best is very limiting."
  32. 0

    #35Let's Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary

    Let's Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary

    Let's Learn Japanese Picture Dictionary is a book by Marlene Goodman that introduces the Japanese language with the help of pictures. Amateur speakers will easily understand with the help of this book. 

    Books

    Check price

    Jonathan Bishop
    Written on March 24, 2018
    "I think this is a really good book for beginners , it also has colorful pages that will make everything easier to understand, im definetely getting this my coworker speaks japanese "
  33. 0

    #36Read Japanese today

    Read Japanese today
    Read Japanese today is a book by Len Welsh that teaches the readers 300 of the most common kanji. This will help them with simple words and phrases that can be used daily. 
    Books

    Check price

    Andy Gu
    Written on March 12, 2018
    "For Japanese learning, Read Japanese Today has been extremely helpful. It has all of the most common Kanji and it makes it very simple to pick up."
  34. 0

    #37Kodanshas Essential Kanji Dictionary

    Kodanshas Essential Kanji Dictionary
    Kodanshas Essential Kanji Dictionary is a book by Kodansha International that serves as a modern Kanji dictionary that is suited for modern man and woman with a busy schedule.
    Books

    Check price

    Anthony Weber
    Written on March 24, 2018
    "This looks to be a good way to learn the traditional way to speak Japanese. There are not many reviews for it but from what I can gather a lot of people say it is helpful."
  35. 0

    #38Felt Friends from Japan

    Felt Friends from Japan

    Felt Friends from Japan: 86 Super-cute Toys and Accessories to Make Yourself is a non-fiction Japanese craft book written by Naomi Tabatha. It is published in 2011 by Kodansha. 

    Books

    Check price

    Guo Shao
    Written on April 12, 2018
    "I bought this for my niece along with the materials and she doesn't put it down. All of the patterns are really cute and she loves to show them off. This is a great book for people who love arts and crafts. It gives a little insight into retro Japanese culture but besides that it doesn't really explain anything about Japan."

Summary

Best What are the best Japanese books
RankSolutionsTypeVotesPrice
1Norwegian WoodBooks 27 Paid
2No Longer HumanBooks 25 Paid
3The Temple of the Golden Pavilion Books 25 Paid
4The Housekeeper and the ProfessorBooks 22 Paid
5The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the SeaBooks 21 Paid
6Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories (Deluxe Edition)Books 18 Paid
7I Am a Cat: Three Volumes in OneBooks 18 Paid
8KokoroBooks 16 Paid
9The Tale of Genji: (Deluxe Edition)Books 15 Paid
10GrotesqueBooks 13 Paid
Close

This action requires you to be logged in

Quickly sign in with your social media account:

What interests you most? (Select at least 3)

This will help us to keep things fresh and relevant!

Close

Now that you’ve found a solution...

Why not join our community of sharp minds and pro-active posters?

Be part of a rewarding interactive knowledge exchange!
Close

Join These Inquisitive Minds

Engage, learn and share with a friendly community versed in a massive range of trending topics.