31 Days of Listening and Watching for Women in Translation Month

“A woman looking over the shoulder of a young man who is smoking a pipe and reading a book” by Utamaro (via Picryl)

Just in time for August and Women in Translation Month, here’s a list of resources about Japanese women writers for listening and watching.

The texts mentioned on this list are in more-or-less chronological order by publication. Descriptions are adapted from episode descriptions.

Support Read Japanese Literature by buying your #witmonth books through our Bookshop.org bookstore.


Historian Isaac Meyer talks about Ono no Komachi, a mysterious poet from the 800s whose poems were used to construct a fictional persona entirely separate from who she actually was.

Historian Isaac Meyer talks about the social position of women in the Heian Era, especially the story of one “particularly badass woman”: the poet and “femme fatale” Izumi Shikibu.

Read Japanese Literature covers Japan’s oldest novel, The Tale of Genji. A hero who is a paragon of beauty with an extreme Oedipus complex.

More about Murasaki Shikibu from historian Isaac Meyer. Why do we know so little about who she was? What inspired her to write Genji? Why does he dislike her work so viscerally? And how did it become so famous?

On the New Books East Asia podcast Jingyi Li talks to Dr. Takeshi Watanabe about A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, which covers about 150 years of births, deaths, & happenings in late Heian society. Dr. Watanabe the book is an exorcism of embittered spirits whose stories needed to be retold to ensure peace.

Historian Isaac Meyer covers the fascinating tale of Sei Shonagon and the Makura no Soushi, or Pillow Book. Why is a collection of anecdotes considered to be one of Japan’s greatest literary classics?

On the New Books East Asia podcast Carla Nappi talks to Dr. Christina Laffin about Nun Abutsu, a 13th-century poet, scholar, teacher, and prolific writer. Laffin’s book is Rewriting Medieval Japanese Women: Politics, Personality, and Literary Production in the Life of Nun Abutsu.

Historian Isaac Meyer covers the life and career of Tokugawa-era poet Kaga no Chiyo, a shopkeeper’s daughter-turned-nun-turned-haiku master.

On the Books on Asia podcast, Dr. Judith Pascoe discusses the popularity of Emily Brontë in Japan.

Read Japanese Literature covers Ichiyo Higuchi and Meiji Women writers.

More about Ichiyo Higuchi from historian Isaac Meyer. Meyer talks about her story, her writing, her legacy, and her tragically short career.

Meiji at 150 hosts Dr. Deborah Shamoon on shōjo (adolescent women) in the Meiji and Taishō period, including the work of Miyake Kaho and Misora Hibari.

On the Books on Asia podcast, Drs. Rebecca Copeland and Linda Ehrlich talk about their anthology Yamamba: In Search of the Japanese Mountain Witch, including author Minako Oba‘s story “Smile of the Mountain Witch”.

The Japan Foundation of New York’s Literary Series hosts author Yoko Ogawa and translator Stephen Snyder discussing the novel The Memory Police.

Books and Bao discusses An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter. An I-Novel is regarded as the first bilingual novel: a book that blends memoir and fiction, tracing the life of a Japanese writer growing up in New York City.

The Japan Foundation of New York’s Literary Series hosts author Sachiko Kashiwaba and translator Avery Fischer Udagawa discussing Temple Alley Summer—a magnificent middle grade novel about the power of stories.

The Japan Foundation of New York’s Literary Series hosts author Yu Miri and translator Morgan Giles discussing the novel Tokyo Ueno Station, which won the 2020 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

The Japan Foundation New York’s Literary Series hosts author Hiroko Oyamada and translator David Boyd discussing the novel The Hole.

Books and Boba discusses Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by by Ginny Tapley Takemori. A short novel about woman who finds it hard to interact with people, who finds contentment in the routines of working at a convenience store.

The Japan Foundation of New York’s Literary Series hosts author Aoko Matsuda and translator Polly Barton discussing Where the Wild Ladies Are, Japanese folk stories retold as feminist fables.

More about Aoko Matsuda from the National Centre for Writing. Translator Polly Barton and Voices from Japan host a 2-part conversation about “one of Japan’s most promising young writers”.

Books and Bao discusses Solo Dance by Li Kotomi, translated by Arthur Reiji Morris. Willow Heath describes, “A beautiful and difficult novel about depression, queerness, trauma, and fear.”

The Japan Foundation of New York’s Literary Series hosts author Sayaka Murata and translator Ginny Tapley Takemori discussing the novel Earthlings.

More about Sayaka Murata, “the queen of punk literature”, from Books and Bao.

Books and Bao discusses The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura, translated by Lucy North. Willow Heath describes, “a Japanese novel that explores our relationships to one another as strangers, as well as the relationship between character, narrator, and reader.”

The Japan Foundation of New York’s Literary Series hosts author Kyoko Nakajima and translators Ian McDonald and Ginny Tapley Takemori discussing the short story collection Things Remembered and Things Forgotten.

Books and Bao on The Easy Life in Kamusari by Shion Miura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter, “a relaxing and satisfying coming-of-age Japanese novel” and “a perfect rainy day read on a chill Sunday afternoon.”

Meiji at 150 hosts Dr. Rebecca Copeland discussing “unruly women”: the goddess Izanami, popular activists and female writers in the Meiji and Taishō Periods, and contemporary writer Kirino Natsuo.

The Japan Station podcast and translator Allison Markin Powell discuss the story of Shiori Ito and her book Black Box: The Memoir That Sparked Japan’s #MeToo Movement.

Special thank you to people and organizations that work so hard to make these resources available:

Episode 12: Japanese Literature in WWII

“Flag Merchant” by Sanzo Wada, 1940 (via Ukiyo-e.org)

Check out Episode 12 of the Read Literature podcast.

Today we’re talking about the 1930s and 40s in Japan—fascism, World War Two, and the American Occupation.

In particular, how did 20 years of censorship shape Japanese literature?

We’re also taking a look at the life and work of Akiyuki Nosaka, whose novella, “Grave of the Fireflies” inspired the classic anime film. We’ll discuss his short story, “The Cake Tree in the Ruins”.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

The Whale That Fell in Love with the Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka. Illustrated.

The Cake Tree in the Ruins by Akiyuki Nosaka. Includes five stories not included in The Whale That Fell in Love with the Submarine.

These two books are both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori and both include “The Cake Tree in the Ruins”.

Other Books Mentioned in This Episode:

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki

The Pornagraphers by Akiyuki Nosaka

Soldiers Alive by Tatsuzo Ishikawa (also included in The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature)

More to Read:

Showa: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki. A multivolume, semi-autobiographical manga overview of Showa Japan.

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguo. The fictional account of a Japanese artist who comes to grips with his complicity with the military regime.

Find Out More

All the Anime’s obituary for Akiyuki Nosaka

The LARB tribute to Akiyuki Nosaka.

Akiyuki Nosaka’s award-winning song, Omocha no Cha Cha Cha on YouTube

Akiyuki Nosaka advertises Suntory Gold Whiskey on YouTube

The Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

  • 18: Three Visions of Prewar Japan
  • 19: War without a Master Plan: Japan, 1931-1945

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Sources

Dower, John. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. Norton, 2000.

Fedman, David. “The Scorched-Earth Generation” at lareviewofbooks.org, 2016.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 4th ed. OUP, 2019.

Keene, Donald. Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

–. “Japanese Literature and Politics in the 1930s” in The Journal of Japanese Studies, 1976.

Mitchell, Richard H. “Japan’s Peace Preservation Law of 1925: Its Origins and Significance” in Monumenta Nipponica, 1973.

Muraoka Eri. Anne’s Cradle: The Life & Works of Hanako Muraoka, Japanese Translator of Anne of Green Gables, trans. Cathy Hirano. Nimbus, 2021.

Rubin, Jay. “From Wholesomeness to Decadence: The Censorship of Literature under the Allied Occupation” in The Journal of Japanese Studies, 1985.

Episode 11: The I-Novel, Osamu Dazai, and No Longer Human

“Asakusa Park Casino Follies” by Sumio Kawakami, circa 1930 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Check out Episode 11 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

Today, we’re talking about the I-Novel—the highest form of literature in Japan in the 1910s and 20s.

It’s a genre one American scholar describes as “perhaps the most striking feature of modern Japanese literature.”

And it’s a genre Haruki Murakami claims to have an allergy to.

We’ll also be looking at the life and work of Osamu Dazai and asking, “What does it take to get disqualified as a human being?”

Content warning: This episode addresses addiction, rape, suicide, and misogyny.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai, translated by Donald Keene

More by Dazai:

More to read:

An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Find Out More

A review of An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura

An interview with Sayaka Murata

Plans for a secondary-school literature class on the I-Novel

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Sources

Fowler, Edward. The Rhetoric of Confession: Shishōsetsu in Early Twentieth-Century Japanese Fiction, U of CA, 1992. 

Hijiya-Kirschnereit. Rituals of Self-Revelation: Shishōsetsu as Literary Genre and Socio-Cultural Phenomenon. Harvard, 1996.

Keene, Donald. “Dazai Osamu and the Burai-Ha” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

–. “The I-Novel” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

Lyons, Phyllis I. “‘Art Is Me’: Dazai Osamu’s Narrative Voice as a Permeable Self” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1981.
Murakami Haruki. “Introduction” in The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories, ed. Jay Rubin, Penguin, 2020.

Episode 10: Taisho Magazines and Akutagawa’s Vision of Hell

“Woman Holding a Black Cat” by Yumeji Takehisa, circa 1919 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Check out Episode 10 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

The father of the Japanese short story shares his dark vision about what it means to be an artist.

We’re taking a look at Japan in the 1910s and 1920s, the era of the Taishō Democracy and the heyday of Japan’s literary magazines and serial novels.

Content warning: This episode addresses addiction, suicide, and sexual assault.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, translated by Jay Rubin

Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600 edited by Haruo Shirane

More by Akutagawa:

Find Out More

The Asahi Shimbun

Hototogisu Magazine (in Japanese)

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

  • Lecture 18: Three Visions of Prewar Japan

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Sources

“About the Priest with the Long Nose” in Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Haruo Shirane, ed. Columbia, 2008.

Akutagawa Ryūosuke. Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories. Trans. Jay Rubin, Penguin, 2006.

Coutts, Angela. “Gender and Literary Production in Modern Japan: The Role of Female-Run Journals in Promoting Writing by Women During the Interwar Years” in Signs, 2006.

“How Yoshihide, a Painter of Buddhist Pictures, Took Pleasure in Seeing His House on Fire” in Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Haruo Shirane, ed. Columbia, 2008.

Kenne, Donald. “Ryūnosuke Akutagawa” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 4th ed. OUP, 2019.

Law, Graham and Norimasa Morita. “Japan and the Internationalization of the Serial Fiction Market” in Book History, 2003.

Mack, Edward. Manufacturing Modern Japanese Literature: Publishing, Prizes, and the Ascription of Literary Value. Duke, 2010.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

Murakami, Haruki. “Introduction” in Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa. Trans. Jay Rubin, Penguin, 2006.

Yasuda, Anri. “Endeavors of Representation: Writing and Painting in Akutagawa Ryūnosuke’s Literary Aesthetics” in Japanese Language and Literature, 2016.

Episode 9: The Women Writers of Meiji Japan

A print of a Meiji-era Japanese woman in Western dress via Wikimedia Commons

Check out Episode 9 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

In the last episode, we talked about the coming of the West and the way it impacted Japanese literature.

This time we’re talking about women as they take up a prominent position in the story of Japanese literature for the first time in almost 1000 years.

Special focus on Ichiyō Higuchi and her best-beloved story “Takekurabe”.

Please note that this episode mistakenly attributes quotes from Higuchi’s diary to translator Melek Ortabasi. The translations are by Kyoko Omori.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org. 

In the Shade of the Spring Leaves by Robert Lyons Danly. Includes translations of 9 of Higuchi’s stories, including “Child’s Play”, translated by Robert Lyons Danly

The Modern Murasaki edited by Rebecca Copeland and Melek Ortabasi. Includes a chapter about Ichiyō Higuchi and translated excerpts from her diary

Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day edited by Donald Keene. Includes “Growing Up,” translated by Edward Seidensticker

More to Read

Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura. An historical account of five Japanese girls sent to study in the United States in the 1870s.

Find Out More

“Deep Tokyo: Ichiyo Higuchi” from Pei-Pei Channel. A video tour of Tokyo sites related to Higuchi’s life.

“Where Are the Women Writers? The Missing Literature of Japan’s Edo Period” @ CUPBlog.org. A translator’s reflection on why so little women’s writing from the Edo Period is available to English-language readers.

“Tori-no-Ichi Fair: Experiencing Asakusa’s Amazing Festival! @ Live Japan. More information about how the Otori Festival is celebrated today.

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Linfamy’s Japanese History and Folktales YouTube Channel

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

  • 17: The Meiji Restoration

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Selected Sources

Copeland, Rebecca. Lost Leaves: Women Writers of Meiji Japan, U of HI Press, 2000.

–. “The Meiji Woman Writer ‘Amidst a Forest of Beards’” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1997.

–, ed. Women Critiqued: Translated Essays on Japanese Women’s Writing, U of HI Press, 2006.

Copeland, Rebecca and Melek Ortabasi, eds. The Modern Murasaki: Writing by Women of Meiji Japan, Columbia UP, 2006.

Danly, Robert Lyons. In the Shade of the Spring Leaves: The Life of Higuchi Ichiyo, with Nine of Her Best Stories, Norton, 1992.

De Bary, Theodore, et al., eds. Sources of Japanese Tradition, 1600-2000, Columbia, 1964.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 4th ed. OUP, 2019.

Hideo Kamei. Transformations of Sensibility: The Phenomenology of Meiji Literature. Trans. Michael Bourdaghs. U of MI, 2002. (Open Access)

Kenne, Donald. “Higuchi Ichiyō” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami, Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

Mitsutani, Margaret. “Higuchi Ichiyō: A Literature of Her Own” in Comparative Literature Studies, 1985.
Sakaki Atsuko. “Sliding Doors: Women in the Heterosocial Literary Field of Early Modern Japan” in US-Japan Women’s Journal, 1999.

Episode 8: Meiji Literature and Japan’s Most Famous Literary Cat

In this 1874 print by Kyōsai, Japanese yōkai adapt to the modern era.
via the Museum of International Folk Art

Check out Episode 8 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

In this episode, we’re looking at the Meiji Era of Japanese history and its literature.

The shogunate is replaced.

Japan looks outward to the West and inward toward itself.

And a man named Natsume Sōseki chronicles it all from the perspective of a stray cat.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org. 

I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki

Kusamakura by Natsume Soseki

More by Soseki:

Find Out More

A synopsis of I am a Cat via Somesmart.com

The Meiji at 150 Project at UBC

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Linfamy’s Japanese History and Folktales YouTube Channel

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

  • 17: The Meiji Restoration

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Selected Sources

Fujii, James A. “Contesting the Meiji Subject: Sōseki’s Neko Reconsidered” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1989.

Kenne, Donald. “Natsume Sōseki” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., Columbia, 1999.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

McClellan, Edwin. “An Introduction to Sōseki” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1959.

McKinney, Meredith. “Introduction” in Kusamakura. Penguin Classics, 2008.

Fillmore, Millard. Letter to the Emperor of Japan, 13 November 1852.

Gordon, Andrew. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, 4th ed. OUP, 2019.

Nathan, Richard. Soseki’s Cat: A Quantum Leap for Japanese Literature at RedCircleAuthors.com, 2021.

Perry, Matthew C. Letter to the Emperor of Japan, 14 July 1853.

Episode 7: Kaidan—Japan’s Ghost Stories

An image of Okiku, the ghost who inspired The Ring, by Toyohara Kunichika (via Wikimedia Commons)

Check out Episode 7 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

In this episode, we’ll be talking about Ueda Akinari and his Tales of Moonlight and Rain, some of the most influential Japanese ghost stories ever written.

A raging intellectual debate

A supernatural party game

And a friend just dying to keep his promises

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org. 

Find Out More

“Japanese Confucian Philosophy” at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

“Japanese Philosophy: Neo-Confucianism, the Samurai Code and Tokugawa Society” at Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy

“The Kokugaku (Native Japan Studies) School” at Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Ueda Akinari 1734-1809: Scholar, Poet, Writer of Fiction by Blake Morgan Young (Open Access PhD)

Zach Davisson’s website, Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai—Translated Japanese Ghost Stories and Tales of the Weird and Strange

“The Real Japanese Story That Helped Inspire ‘The Ring’ at iHorror.com

“Smartening Up” by Aoko Matsuda at Granta Magazine

Linfamy’s Japanese History and Folktales YouTube Channel

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Selected Sources

Araki, James T. “A Critical Approach to the Ugetsu Monogatari” in Monumenta Nipponica, 1967.

Chambers, Anthony, trans. “Introduction” in Tales of Moonlight and Rain, 2008.

–. “Hankai: A Translation from Harusame Monogatari” in Monumenta Nipponica, 1970.

Davisson, Zack. Yurei: The Japanese Ghost, 2015.

De Bary, Theodore, et al., eds. Sources of Japanese Tradition, 1600-2000, 1964.

Kato Kazumitsu. “Some Notes on Mono no Aware” in Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1962.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

Meyer, Isaac. “Episode 355: Tales of Moonlight and Rain”.  History of Japan Podcast, 2020.

Reider, Noriko T. “The Emergence of ‘Kaidan-Shū’:The Collection of Tales of the Strange and Mysterious in the Edo Period” in Asian Folklore Studies, 2001.

Roddy, Stephen J. “In Praise of Jeweled Streams: ‘Ugetsu Monogatari’, Nativism, and Tea” in Japanese Language and Literature, 2015.

Saunders, Dale. “‘Ugetsu Monogatari’ or Tales of Moonlight and Rain” in Monumenta Nipponica, 1966.

Teeuwen, Mark. “Review: Kokugaku vs. Nativism” in Monumenta Nipponica, 2006.

Whitehouse, Wilfred, trans. “Shiramine” in Monumenta Nipponica, 1938.

Young, Blake Morgan, trans. “‘Hankai’ A Tale from the Harusame Monogatari by Ueda Akinari” in Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1972.

Audiobooks of Japanese Literature in Translation

Kobo Abe

Hiro Arikawa

Osamu Dazai

  • No Longer Human
    • Translated by Donald Keene
    • Narrated by David Shih
  • The Setting Sun
    • Translated by Donald Keene
    • Narrated by June Angela
  • Wish Fulfilled: A Vignette
    • Translated by Reiko Seri and Doc Kane
    • Narrated by Doc Kane

Shusaku Endo

  • Deep River
    • Translated by Van C. Gessel
    • Narrated by David Holt
  • The Samurai
    • Translated by Van C. Gessel
    • Narrated by David Holt
  • Silence
    • Translated by William Johnston
    • Narrated by David Holt

Keigo Higashino

Keiichiro Hirano

  • At the End of the Matinee
    • Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • A Man
    • Translated by Eli K. P. William
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii

Tomoyuki Hoshino

  • ME
    • Translated by Charles de Wolf
    • Narrated by David Shih

Kotaro Isaka

Kazuki Kaneshiro

  • Go
    • Translated by Takami Nieda
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii

Yasunari Kawabata

  • Beauty and Sadness
    • Translated by Howard Hibbett
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • Snow Country
    • Translated by Edward Seidensticker
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • Thousand Cranes
    • Translated by Edward Seidensticker
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii

Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Hiromi Kawakami

  • The Nakano Thrift Shop
    • Translated by Allison Markin Powell
    • Narrated by Alexandra Bailey
  • Strange Weather in Tokyo
    • Translated by Allison Markin Powell
    • Narrated by Allison Hiroto
  • The Ten Loves of Nishino
    • Translated by Allison Markin Powell
    • Narrated by Cindy Kay

Mieko Kawakami

Genki Kawamura

Aoko Matsuda

Kanae Minato

  • Confessions
    • Translated by Stephen Snyder
    • Narrated by Elaina Erika Davis and Noah Galvin
  • Penance
    • Translated by Stephen Snyder
    • Narrated by Karissa Vacker

Shion Miura

  • The Easy Life in Kamusari (Forest #1)
    • Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • The Great Passage
    • Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii

Yukio Mishima

  • Life for Sale
    • Translated by Stephen Dodd
    • Narrated by Kotaro Watanabe
  • The Sailor Who Feel from Grace with the Sea
    • Translated by John Nathan
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • Spring Snow
    • Translated by Michael Gallagher
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • The Sound of Waves
    • Translated by Meredith Weatherby
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
    • Translated by Ivan Morris
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii

Minae Mizumura

  • An Inheritance from Mother
    • Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
    • Narrated by Allison Hiroto

Eto Mori

  • Colorful
    • Translated by Jocelynne Allen
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii

Yukiko Motoya

Haruki Murakami

Ryu Murakami

  • Audition
    • Translated by Ralph McCarthy
    • Narrated by David Shih

Sayaka Murata

Fuminori Nakamura

  • The Boy in the Earth
    • Translated by Allison Markin Powell
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • Cult X
    • Translated by Kalau Almony
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • Evil and the Mask
    • Translated by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates
    • Narrated by Kirby Heyborne
  • The Gun
    • Translated by Allison Markin Powell
    • Narrated Brian Nishii
  • The Kingdom
    • Translated by Kalau Almony
    • Narrated by Lucie Kondo
  • Last Winter, We Parted
    • Translated by Allison Markin Powell
    • Narrated by Feodor Chin, Richard Powers, and P. J. Ochlan
  • My Annihilation
    • Translated by Sam Bett
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii
  • The Thief
    • Translated by Satoko Izumo
    • Narrated by Charlie Thurston

Sosuke Natsukawa

  • The Cat Who Saved Books
    • Translated by Louise Heal Kawai
    • Narrated by Kevin Shen

Kirino Natsuo

  • Out
    • Translated by Rebecca Copleand
    • Translated by Emily Woo Zeller

Kenzaburo Oe

  • Death by Water
    • Translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm
    • Narrated by Paul Boehmer
  • Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids
    • Translated by Maki Sugiyama and Paul St. Mackintosh
    • Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
  • A Personal Matter
    • Translated by John Nathan
    • Narrated by Eric Michael Summerer

Mimei Ogawa

Yoko Ogawa

Natsume Soseki

  • I Am a Cat
    • Translated by Aiko Ito and Graeme Wilson
    • Narrated by David Shih
  • Kusamakura [Grass Pillow]
    • Translated by Meredith McKinney
    • Narrated by Kotaro Watanabe and Elizabeth Jasicki
  • Kokoro [Heart]
    • Translated by Edwin McClellan
    • Narrated by Matt Shea
  • Kokoro [Heart]
    • Translated by Meredith McKinney
    • Narrated by Kotaro Watanabe and Elizabeth Jasicki
  • Sanshiro
    • Translated by Jay Rubin
    • Narrated by Andrew Koji

Kaoru Takamura

  • Lady Joker, Vol. 1
    • Translated by Marie Iida and Allison Markin Powell
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii

Yoko Tawada

Kikuo Tsumura

Seishi Yokomizo

  • The Honjin Murders
    • Translated by Louise Heal Kawai
    • Narrated by Akira Matsumoto
  • The Inugami Curse (Honjin Murders #2)
    • Translated by Louise Heal Kawai
    • Narrated by Akira Matsumoto
  • The Village of Eight Graves (Honjin Murders #3)
    • Translated by Louise Heal Kawai
    • Narrated by Akira Matsumoto

Banana Yoshimoto

  • Amrita
    • Translated by Megan Backus
    • Narrated by Alexandra Bailey
  • Asleep (stories)
    • Translated by Megan Backus
    • Narrated by Emily Zeller
  • Kitchen
    • Narrated by Emily Zeller
    • Translated by Megan Backus
  • Lizard (stories)
    • Narrated by Emily Zeller
    • Translated by Megan Backus
  • N.P.
    • Narrated by Emily Zeller
    • Translated by Megan Backus

Eiji Yoshikawa

  • Musashi
    • Translated by Charles S. Terry
    • Narrated by Brian Nishii

Miri Yu

Support this podcast by buying your audiobooks through Libro.fm, an audiobook seller supporting local, independent bookstores. Titles without links aren’t available on Libro.fm. ReadJapaneseLiterature believes single-platform audiobooks limit readers’ choices.

Episode 6: High and Low Literature in Edo Japan

Saikaku’s illustration of Yonosuke sailing for the Island of Women.

Check out Episode 6 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

This episode is marked mature.

How does “this fleeting world” transform from a Buddhist precept to a name for the red-light district?

What did reading look like in early Modern Japan?

And how many dildos does a man need to pack for a trip to the Island of Women?

It’s time to talk about high and low literature in Edo Japan.

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Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900 ed. Hauro Shirane

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The Freer-Sackler Library’s collection of Illustrated Japanese books.

Eminent scholar of Japanese literature Donald Keene on Saikaku: The Comic Novelist.

History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Linfamy’s Japanese History and Folktales YouTube Channel

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

  • 11: Japan’s Isolation in the Tokugawa Period

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Selected Sources

Drake, Chris. “Introduction” in Excerpts from Life of a Sensuous Man, Aksornsami Press, 2010.

Huffman, James L. Creating a Public: People and Press in Meiji Japan, University of Hawaii, 1997.

Korniki, P. F. “Literacy Revisited: Some Reflections on Rirchard Rubinger’s Findings” in Monumenta Nipponica, 2001.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

Moretti, Laura. “Kanazoshi Revisited: The Beginnings of Japanese Popular Literature in Print” in Monumenta Nipponica, 2010.

Rubinger, Richard. “From ‘Dark Corners’ into ‘The Light’: Literacy Studies in Modern Japan” in History of Education Quarterly, 1990.

Shirane, Haruo, ed. Early Modern Japanese Literature—An Anthology, 1600-1900. Columbia, 2002.

Episode 5: Setsuwa and Medieval Japanese Buddhism

A 15th century illustration of Kiyohime

Check out Episode 5 of the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

Enjoy the story of a vengeful would-be lover who turns into a 40-foot snake, a sharp-witted woman with criticisms of her husband’s equipment, and a curmudgeonly Buddhist priest who learns to love poetry. In this episode, we’re talking about setsuwa—medieval Japanese anecdotes. Many of them originate as Buddhist preaching, so we’ll also take a look at “Kamakura Buddhisms”: Pure Land, Zen, and Nichiren.

Support this podcast by buying your copy from Bookshop.org. 

Shirane, Haruo, ed. Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Columbia, 2008.

Tales of Times Now Past, translated by Marian Ury, U of Michigan, 1992.

Find Out More

“Smartening Up” by Aoko Matsuda

History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Linfamy’s Japanese History and Folktales YouTube Channel

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Understanding Japan: A Cultural History by Professor Mark J. Ravina. Produced by The Great Courses, 2015.

  • Pure Land Buddhism and Zen Buddhism

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Selected Sources

Childs, Margaret H. “Kyōgen-Kigo: Love Stories as Buddhist Sermons” in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (1985).

Dykstra, Yoshiko K. “Miraculous Tales of the Lotus Sutra: The Dainihonkoku Hokkegenki” in Monumenta Nipponica (1977).

De Bary, Theodore, et. al, eds. Sources of Japanese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600, Columbia, 1964.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.

Shirane, Haruo, ed. Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600. Columbia, 2008.