Books from Japan – A guide to reading about Japan

Book Stores

I love reading, especially about places I am travelling too. Therefore I have read a lot of books about Japan. This page will serve as a guide to books about Japan. Hopefully you find some interesting books here.

Books from Japan

A stori in Jimbocho, Tokyo

First, I like to start by mentioning Jimbocho. If you like literature and books you have to visit this place when visiting Japan. A whole neighbourhood in Tokyo devoted to books. Countless second-hand book stores, many of them piling books on the sidewalk as well as inside. I also found Daunt Books in London to have an excellent selection of books about Japan.

Books about Japan

There are so many books from Japan to recommend. I don’t really know where to begin. For a quick history introduction there is A History of Japan, a great introduction to Japan’s history and so much better than A Traveller’s History of Japan. Both books give a quick overview of Japan’s history, I would without hestitation recommend the former.

If you are interested in recent history and the Second World War there is Hiroshima Nagasaki, about the atomic bombing of Japan during the Second World War. More information about the bombing of Hiroshima can be found on my Hiroshima Guide.

Books from Japan

The Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

Tokyo Underworld tells the story of the criminal underworld in Japan during and after the American occupation.

For you foodies out there I recommend The Story of Sushi, a book telling the history of sushi while following a group of students at a sushi school in the US.

Alan Booth is an excellent travel writer who has written much about his walking trips in Japan. I have reviewed The Roads to Sata.

Japan Through the Looking Glass by Alan MacFarlane is as excellent book about Japan provising an informed and interesting insight into this exciting country.
For a book about the Kansai Area of Japan, including famous tourist destinations Kyoto, Osaka and Nara I recommend Kansai Cool by Christal Whelan.

Video Night in Kathmandu covers all of Asia, is a great book and the chapters from Japan are interesting. Being written in the 80s, it showed clearly how Japan have changed since then.

Books from Japan

As for Japanese fiction I can recommend Haruki Murakami. I have read and enjoyed several of his books, but have currently only reviewed After the Quake, a collection of short stories dealing with the aftermath of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake.

Ryu Murakami has the same last name but a very different style of writing. I have reviewed his books Sixty-Nine and Coin Locker Babies.

An author I recently discovered is Yukio Mishima. I have reviewed his book Forbidden Colours.

Books from Japan

Outdoor book store in Jimbocho

Other Japanese authors I like are Natsume Soseki, and Kenzaburo Oe. I will try to put more book reviews of Japanese literature on my blog soon.

In July 2015 I was in Japan and ran into Hideo Asano a homeless writer living in Tokyo. That was an interesting encounter. I bought one of his books and a selection of poems.

A complete list of my posts about Japan and books:

Daunt Books

An Encounter with a Homeless Man

Book Review: Hiroshima Nagasaki

Book Review: Kansai Cool

Book Review: Coin Locker Babies

Book Review: A History of Japan

Book Review: The Roads to Sata

Book Review: After the Quake

Book Review: Forbidden Colours

Going to Japan: What to read


Book Review: Sixty-Nine

Book Review: Breasts and Eggs

Book Review: The Story of Sushi

Book Review: Tokyo Underworld

Book Review: A Traveller’s History of Japan

Book Review: Japan Through the Looking Glass

Book Review: Video Night in Kathmandu

Return to Japan Travel Guide

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  1. Pingback: Book Review: Japan Through the Looking Glass - TravelTorgeir

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