6 Japanese books you should read that are not by Murakami

I did the January in Japan challenge and have been wanting to share my reccos since then. Finally got around to writing this list.

1a) Before the coffee gets cold ☕️

by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What would you do if you could go back in time?


There are a bunch of rules that you must follow!

Different people might do different things, of course. But in the end what matters the most is what this experience does to your heart.

I smiled, I cried and I enjoyed reading this beautiful book.

1b) Before the coffee gets cold: Tales from the café

By Toshikazu Kawaguchi

More time travelling tales… At this point we know that one can travel in past as well as future. Each time someone travels, even if they don’t expect much from it and even if they can’t change the present, something inside them changes. 

Every one learns one thing for sure: They deserve to be happy, no matter what. 

Life too, passes through difficult winters.

But after any winter, spring will follow.

2) Strange weather in Tokyo 

By Hiromi Kawakami

There are books that are full of twists and turns and then there are is beautiful slow, mundane, feel-good Japanese literature.

This book was about life of two common people in love. They went to market for shopping, drank at a bar, watched seasons change, deeply cared about each other in their own way. 

At first I was expecting something crazy to happen but then I realised this book was balmy, calm and warm. 

3) The Nakano Thrift shop

By Hiromi Kawakami

A thrift shop is where you buy objects they’ve already loved one life. It’s not by any measure an antique shop. Quirky, heartfelt and a comfort read… this story is about a thrift store employees, the owner and his mistress and his sister. Simple stories with deep meaning gives all the feels and I must say I’m loving Japanese literature. 

Hitomi and Takeo’s love story which moves forward subtlety…the magic of mundane and a little about a old…I enjoyed this one thoroughly. 

4) The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Book by Hiro Arikawa

This is an emotionally power packed story from a cat’s perspective. Nana, a stray, is adopted by Sotaru and five years later they’re travelling to find a new suitable home for Nana. 

Nana gets her name from her hooked tail that looks like number 7 which is nana in Japanese.

The story is beautifully told, descriptions will take you on a journey of your own and you’ll definitely shed a tear or two or maybe a waterfall. 

This story is about friendships, relationships, love, sacrifices, situations in life that make us the person we become and above all it’s a story of a cat who was able to see and feel all this. 

It’s a short read so a weekend is all you need. 

Some of my favourite lines:

Distant relatives you hardly ever see are, to a child, like total strangers. Friends are much closer. Why don’t adults understand that?

From my first experience of the sea, I learned a valuable lesson. The sea is where you go to reminisce when you are far away from home.

If you have to consider what’s going to happen after you die, life becomes doubly troublesome.

No other animal in the world would try to defy the laws of nature, but humans are a very peculiar species.

5) Convenience Store Woman 

By Sayaka Murata

I picked up this book because I wanted to go for a short quirky read and reviews said that this one was. It took me few hours to finish it and I must say that it is a page turner in it’s own way. You want to know what happens in Keiko’s life, does she find her purpose, does she change, etc.

This book is also about the way our society functions, the things we call normal and things that are unacceptable. 

One might question what is normal and what isn’t but society at large decides it and anything that is not “normal” according to the masses is either rebellious, revolutionary or subject to humour and mockery. 

At times you might find somethings in the book funny but suddenly you’ll find that it is indeed dark. 

Do I recommend it? Yes. 

Let’s question our ordinaries and our normals.

Some of my favourite lines:

When you work in a convenience store, people often look down on you for working there. I find this fascinating, and I like to look them in the face when they do this to me. And as I do so I always think: that’s what a human is.

When you do physical labor, you end up being no longer useful when your physical condition deteriorates. However hard I work, however dependable I am, when my body grows old then no doubt I too will be a worn-out part, ready to be replaced, no longer of any use to the convenience store.

The specific form of what is considered an “ordinary person” had been there all along, unchanged since prehistoric times I finally realized.

6) The Housekeeper and the Professor

by Yōko Ogawa

He is a brilliant math Professor who was in an accident and now has a memory that lasts only 80 minutes.

She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son.

She is hired to take care of him.

This book was made into a film in Japan with the title The Professor’s Beloved Equation.

Maths in the book is presented in such a fun way that you might also start loving prime numbers. The story is about living in present, bonding via numbers and little things in life. 

I absolutely loved it and would say it is 10/10. 

So that’s that!

My next read: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. And yours?

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