Episode 16: Writing about Japan’s “Have-Nots”

Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri

Check out Episode 16 of the Read Literature podcast.

In this episode…

Post-bubble Japan.

The history of socially-conscious Japanese literature.

And Yu Miri’s Tokyo Ueno Station, a powerful examination of Tokyo by one of the most invisible people imaginable—the ghost of a homeless day laborer.

Donate to RJL’s Patreon.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri (translated by Morgan Giles)

Read Miri for Free:

This episode also recommends:

Find Out More

Unseen Japan. Among many topics, Unseen Japan provides English-language news coverage about under-represented communities in Japan, including Zainichi Koreans and the homeless.

ETHOS Typology on Homelessness and Housing Exclusion

The Japan Foundation New York Literary Series: Yu Miri and Morgan Giles. Yu Miri and her translator Morgan Giles talk about Tokyo Ueno Station. Other guests include moderator Stephen Snyder, interpreter Bethan Jones, and Strong Women, Soft Power member Allison Markin Powell.

“Marxist Literary Criticism: An Introductory Reading Guide” at HistoricalMaterialism.org.

JFNY Literary Series: Yu Miri x Morgan Giles. An hour-long video interview and discussion about Yu Miri’s work and Tokyo Ueno Station, hosted by the Japan Foundation of New York.

The National Book Award Page for Tokyo Ueno Station. This pages includes the judges’ citation:

This deft translation by Morgan Giles of Korean-Japanese writer Yu Miri’s Tokyo Ueno Station is a welcome and necessary addition to the translated Japanese canon, which unfolds in the memories of a deceased narrator occupying the eponymous train station. The book is an observation of Japan at the gateway of its capital, at multiple thresholds of shifting eras, told in the bardo of a mourning father and compatriot, reciting his surroundings and circumstances as if a prayer, a mantra.

“Her Antenna Is Tuned to the Quietest Voices” in The New York Times. This article, written after the English translation of Tokyo Ueno Station won the National Book Award, contains more information about Miri’s biography.

“Why the World Needs Literature” in Metropolis. Morgan Giles talks about Tokyo Ueno Station and translating Yu Miri.

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Sources

Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. U of MN, 2008.

–. Marxism and Literary Criticism. U of CA, 1976.

“ETHOS—European Typology on Homelessness and Housing Exclusion” at Feantsa.org, 2005. (free)

Goto Hiroshi, et al. “Why Street Homelessness Has Decreased in Japan: A Comparison of Public Assistance in Japan and the US” in Selected Works of Dennis P. Culhane, 2022. (free)

Harris, Thalia. “Metalist DaiGo and Anti-Homeless Sentiment in Japan” at UnseenJapan.com, 2021. (free)

“JFNY Literary Series: Yu Miri x Morgan Giles” at Jfny.org, 2021. (free)

Keene, Donald. 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.

Rich, Motoko. “Her Antenna Is Tuned to the Quietest Voices” at NYTimes.com, 2020. (free)

Scott, Simon. “Ball and Chain: Gambling’s Darker Side” in The Japan Times Online, 2014.

Weickgenannt, Kristina. “The Deemphasis of Ethnicity: Images of Koreanness in the Works of the Japanese-Korean Author Yū Miri” in Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, Conference and Seminar Papers: Images of Asia in Mass Media, Popular Culture and Literature, 2001. (free)

Wender, Melissa L. “Introduction” in Into the Light: An Anthology of Literature by Koreans in Japan, U of HI, 2011.

–. “Yū Miri” in Into the Light: An Anthology of Literature by Koreans in Japan, U of HI, 2011.

Episode 15: Translating Japanese Women

The Japanese cover of Convenience Store Woman

Check out Episode 15 of the Read Literature podcast.

In all our episodes so far, we’ve talked almost exclusively about what Japanese literature looks like in Japan.

But we’re English-speakers and English-readers on an English-language podcast about Japanese literature in English.

In honor of Women in Translation Month, we’re talking about why there is such a wealth of contemporary books by Japanese women available in English.

Donate to RJL’s Patreon.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori)

Japanese Women Translated by Strong Women, Soft Power Translators:

Translated by Allison Markin Powell

Translated by Lucy North

Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Ginny Tapley Takemori on “Strong Women, Soft Power” at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative

Strong Women, Soft Power’s list of “10 Japanese Books by Women We’d Love to See in English”

Allison Markin Power on why “Translating Women in Essential”

The Three Percent Database

Women in Translation. The project’s official website.

The Warwick Prize for Women in Translation

RJL’s List of 2022 Upcoming Japanese Fiction Releases

Sayaka Murata talks about her life and work at Wired.com.

The Japan Foundation New York hosts a conversation with Sayaka Murata. (YouTube)

More about the work of Sayaka Murata on Read Japanese Literature:

My review of Sayaka Murata’s latest in English, Life Ceremony: Stories

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Sources

Birnbaum, Phyllis, trans. and ed. Rabbits, Crabs, Etc.: Stories by Japanese Women. U of HI, 1982.

Copeland, Rebecca. “Intercultural Sisters: Translation and the Creation of Feminist Social Networks” in The Journal of Comparative Media and Women Studies, 2020.

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

Doppo Kunikida. “On Women and Translation” in Women Critiqued: Translated Essays on Japanese Women’s Writing. Rebecca Copeland, ed. U of HI Press, 2006.

Ericson, Joan E. “The Origins of the Concept of ‘Women’s Literature’” in The Woman’s Hand: Gender and Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing, Stanford, 1996.

Fincher, Alison. “Review: Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata” at AsianReviewofBooks.com, 2022. (free)

Ha, Thu-Huong. “Sayaka Murata Inhabits a Planet of Her Own” at Wired.com, 2022. (free)

Keene, Donald. 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.

Namkung, Victoria. “Move Over, Murakami: Female Authors Drive Growing Interest in Japanese Novels” at NBCNews.com, 2021. (free)

Powell, Allison Markin. “10 Japanese Books by Women We’d Love to See in English” at Lithub.com, 2016. (free)

–. “Translation Women in Essential: Allison Markin Powell on Translating Kaoru Takamura’s Groundbreaking Japanese Crime Epic” at Soho.com, 2022. (free)

Takemori, Ginny Tapley. “Strong Women, Soft Power” at Glli.org, 2018. (free)

Episode 14: Banana and the Bubble

“White Fox Mirror” by Yoshimi Okamoto, 1980 (via Ukiyo-e.org)

Check out Episode 14 of the Read Literature podcast.

In this episode, we’re talking about Japan’s bubble economy of the 1980s and the work of Banana Yoshimoto.

Runaway consumer spending.

Everything kawaii.

A Nobel laureate’s contempt.

And a young author whose career challenged the publishing powers that be.

Content warning: This episode addresses transphobia as well as hate crimes against Asian Americans and trans women.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (translated by Megan Backus)

Lizard (translated by Ann Sherif). Includes the story “Newlywed”.

Dead-End Memories by Banana Yoshimoto (translated by Asa Yoneda)

More by Banana Yoshimoto:

This episode also recommends:

I Think Our Son Is Gay by (translated by Leo McDonagh)

Find Out More

The History of Japan Podcast, hosted by Isaac Meyer

Ichimon Japan Podcast, Episode 39: What Should I Know about Japan’s Bubble Era?—An irreverent and funny look at 1980s pop culture in Japan.

The Japan Foundation of New York’s lecture on Shojo Manga: The Power and Influence of Girls’ Comics

Kawaii 101 at Best of Kawaii

Banana Yoshimoto’s Official Website (English)

Book critic Willow Heath on “The Genius of Banana Yoshimoto” at Books & Bao.

Book critic Willow Heath on Kitchen at Books & Bao. Includes a discussion of Eriko’s role in the novel.

My review of Dead-End Memories at Asian Review of Books

IMDB page for 1989’s Kitchen

IMDB page for 1997’s Kitchen (Wo ai chu fang)

Lindsay Ellis’s YouTube video on Tracing the Roots of Pop Culture Transphobia. Ellis’s 60-minute video traces the problematic history of transgender representation in English-language media.

Siobhan Donegan on “Trans Representation in Cinema and TV” at LGBTHealth.org.uk.

Alexander Cross on Kitchen and “The Coming of Age of Transgender Representation in Japan” at An Injustice!

Translator Leo McDonagh on “Translating Gender from Japanese to English” at his site, Leocalization.wordpress.com.

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Sources

Aoyama Tomoko. Reading Food in Modern Japanese Literature. U Hawaii, 2008.

Chilton, Myles. “Realist Magic and the Invented Tokyos of Murakami Haruki and Yoshimoto Banana” in Journal of Narrative Theory, 2009.

Cross, Alexander. “The Coming of Age in Transgender Representation in Japan: An Analysis of Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto” at An Injustice!, 2021. (free)

Fincher, Alison. “‘Dead-End Memories’ by Banana Yoshimoto” at AsianReviewofBooks.com. (free)

Fukushima Yoshiko. “Japanese Literature, or ‘J-Literature,’ in the 1990s” in World Literature Today, 2003.

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

Heath, Willow. “Review: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto” at Books & Bao, 2021. (free)

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

Margolis, Eric. “How the English Language Failed Banana Yoshimoto” at Metropolis, 2021. (free)

Olson, Lawrence. “Intellectuals and ‘The People’; On Yoshimoto Takaaki” in The Journal of Japanese Studies, 1978.

Roquet, Paul. “Ambient Literature and the Aesthetics of Calm: Mood Regulation in Contemporary Japanese Fiction” in The Journal of Japanese Studies, 2009.

Saito Satomi. “Narrative in the Digital Age: From Light Novels to Web Serials” in Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature, ed. Rachael Hutchinson and Leith Morton, 2016.

Seaman, Amanda C. “Inner Pieces: Isolation, Inclusion, and Interiority in Modern Women’s Fiction” in Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature, ed. Rachael Hutchinson and Leith Morton, 2016.

Sherif, Ann. “Japanese without Apology: Yoshimoto Banana and Healing” in Ōe and Beyond: Fiction in Contemporary Japan, ed. Stephen Synder and Philip Gabriel, U Hawaii, 1999.

Treat, John Whittier. “Yoshimoto Banana Writes Home: Shojo Culture and the Nostalgic Subject” in The Journal of Japanese Studies, 1993.

Episode 13: Literature of Change in the 1960s—Mishima and Oe

“Ukiyo-e Today, No. 7” by Okamoto Ryusei, 1974 (via Ukiyo-e.org)

Check out Episode 13 of the Read Literature podcast.

Today, we’re talking about the literature of change in the 1960s—how writers took on questions about what it meant to be Japanese in the post-war era and what was the continuing role of Japanese tradition.

We’re looking especially at Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe.

Content warning: This episode addresses fascism and suicide.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

The Sea of Fertility Tetralogy by Yukio Mishima

Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe (translated by Paul St. John MacKintosh and Maki Sugiyama)

Other Books Mentioned in This Episode:

Beautiful Star by Yukio Mishima (translated by Steven Dodd, available in UK markets only)

“Patriotism” by Yukio Mishima (translated by Geoffrey W. Sargent) in The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories

“The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away” (translated by John Nathan) in Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness 

Find Out More

The Constitution of Japan (English)

Read Japanese Literature’s Review of Yukio Mishima’s Novel Life for Sale

Ruminations on America, 1965. A translation by Hiroaki Sato of a part of Ōe’s essay, including his thoughts about Huckleberry Finn. (CW: Quotes Twain’s use of a racial slur)

The Swedish Academy’s 1994 Press Release about Kenzaburo Oe’s Nobel Prize for Literature

Kenzaburo Oe’s 1994 Nobel Lecture, “Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself”

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.

  • 22: Japan’s Economic Miracle

“Literature” at Japanese Wiki Corpus

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Sources

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

Iwamoto Yoshio. “The Nobel Prize in Literature, 1967-1987: A Japanese View” in World Literature Today, 1988.

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

Kersten, Rikki. “The Intellectual Culture of Postwar Japan and the 1968-1969 University of Tokyo Struggles: Repositioning the Self in Postwar Thought” in Social Science Japan Journal, 2009.

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

Napier, Susan J. “Death and the Emperor: Mishima, Ōe, and the Politics of Betrayal” in The Journal of Asian Studies, 1989.

–. Escape from the Wasteland: Romanticism and Realism in the Fiction of Mishima Yukio and Oe Kenzaburo. Harvard, 1991.

Nathan, John. “Introduction” in Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness. Grove, 1994.

Oe Kenzaburo. “Japan’s Dual Identity: A Writer’s Dilemma” in World Literature Today, 1988.

–. “Nobel Lecture: Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself” at NobelPrize.org, 1994.

Remnick, David. “Reading Japan” at The New York Yorker Online, 1995. (free)

Sakurai Emiko. “Kenzaburo Ōe: the Early Years” in World Literature Today, 1984.
Schieder, Chelsea Szendi. Coed Revolution: The Female Student in the Japanese New Left. Duke, 2021.

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.

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