Podcast: The Tale of the Heike

A 19th century woodblock print of Tomoe from The Mirror of Beauties Past and Present via Wikimedia Commons

Check out the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

Episode 3: The Tale of the Heike—The great samurai epic and the rise of the samurai class.

Support this podcast by buying your copy of The Tale of the Heike from Bookshop.org. 

Find Out More

A. L. Sadler’s text of The Tale of the Heike (free online)

Website for The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari)

  • Reading notes and summaries of the entire Tale of the Heike

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Linfamy’s Japanese History and Folktales YouTube Channel

“Tomoe Gozen: Badass Women in Japanese History” at Tofugu.com

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Sources

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

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

McAlpine, Helen and William. Japanese Tales and Legends, Oxford, 1989.

Mori, Masaki. Epic Grandeur: Toward a Comparative Poetics of the Epic. State University Press of New York, 1997.

Oyler, Elizabeth. “Gio: Women and Performance in the ‘Heike Monogatari’.” Harvard Review of Asiatic Studies, 2004.

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

Podcast: The Tale of Genji

Check out the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

A 19th-Century Illustration of The Tale of Genji via Wikimedia Commons

Episode 2: The Tale of Genji—The world’s oldest novel. A hero who is a paragon of beauty with an extreme Oedipus complex.

(CW: sex, rape, incest, pedophilia.)

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

Find Out More

Project Gutenberg: The Tale of Genji. The full on-line text of the Arthur Waley translation of The Tale of Genji

Tony’s Reading List. A comparison of different English-language translations of The Tale of Genji

Sources

Bargen, Doris G. “Yūgao: A Case of Spirit Possession in The Tale of Genji” in Mosaic, 1986.

Marcus, Marvin. Japanese Literature from Murasaki to Murakami. Association for Asian Studies, 2015.
De Bary, Theodore, et. al, eds. Sources of Japanese Tradition: From Earliest Times to 1600. Columbia, 1964.

Podcast: The Kojiki

Kobayashi Eitaku, Izanagi and Izanami, c. 1885
Via Wikimedia

Check out the Read Japanese Literature podcast.

Episode 1: The Kojiki—Gods having sex, founding of the imperial dynasty, and some of the origins of WWII. Plus thoughts on the role of women in early Japanese history.

Support this podcast by buying your copy of The Kojiki from Bookshop.org. 

Find Out More

Read the full on-line text of the Basil Hall Chamberlain translation of The Kojiki for free at Sacred-Texts.com.

The Goddess Chronicle by Kirino Natsuo (trans. Rebecca Copeland)

The Kojiki: The Birth of Japan—The Japanese Creation Myth Illustrated by Kazumi Wilds

Tono Monogatari by Shigeru Mizuki (trans. Zack Davisson)

Sources

Ellwood, Robert. “Patriarchal Revolution in Ancient Japan: Episodes from the ‘Nihonshoki’ Sujin Chronicle” in Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 1986.

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

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

Review: The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura

There is a growing interest in a behavioral phenomenon the Internet has dubbed “main character syndrome”. Whether motivated by narcissism or a healthy sense of self-worth, some people live as though they were the hero in a fictional story and interact with the world around them as though they were its center. The narrator of The Woman in the Purple Skirt is not one of these people. She barely sees herself as a character at all. 

More at Asian Review of Books

Review: Things Remembered and Things Forgotten by Kyoko Nakajima

Things Remembered and Things Forgotten is a collection about memory, but it is also a collection about grief. Gathered from author Kyoko Nakajima’s published work, the stories assembled here speak about loss—of a loved one, of a place, of a culture—and what comes next.

More at Asian Review of Books

Review: Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

Fans of Breasts and Eggs, Mieko Kawakami’s first novel published in English in 2020, might be expecting another women-centered narrative. Heaven is radically different. This time, an unnamed male narrator describes his appalling position in the social hierarchy of his junior high school…

…But though the graphic bullying is the novel’s context, at its heart is an enduring question: what does a human being make of suffering?…

More at Asian Review of Books

Review: Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura

…The narrator offers tantalizing references to other children’s books with magical escapes into other worlds. But the Wolf Queen’s mirror world is fundamentally different. Narnia, Oz, and Wonderland bring adventure to children whose lives are more-or-less ordinary. In Lonely Castle in the Mirror, the villains and challenges the children face are in the real world. It is the castle that is the refuge, the place where they are safe…

More at Asian Review of Books

Review: Terminal Boredom by Izumi Suzuki

The stories collected in Terminal Boredom take up themes that might feel familiar to readers of contemporary Japanese fiction. The characters criticize, challenge, or defy social conventions. Narrators raise questions about identity and agency. But unlike, say, Mieko Kawakami or Sayaka Murata, author Izumi Suzuki died more than three decades ago.

More at Asian Review of Books

Review: Touring the Land of the Dead by Maki Kashimada

There is certainly no shortage of novels about hotels with complicated histories, but Touring the Land of the Dead is fairly unique in its execution. Natsuko doesn’t mourn for the past or become trapped in the past; her visit to the hotel helps her to escape from her family’s toxicity and move forward with her own life.

More at Asian Review of Books

Review: Soul Lanterns by Shaw Kazuki

By placing the action at a generation’s remove from the actual events, Kuzki blunts some of the harshest edges of the story—and this is one of the novel’s strengths. Soul Lanterns isn’t so much about August 1945 as the trauma it left behind. Nozomi and her friends begin to grow up when they begin to understand the interior lives of the adults around them… The novel’s ultimate message is that growing up means becoming aware of the world around you.

More at Asian Review of Books