• Natasha Hart

Travel to Japan this Spring with 8 Amazing Translated Stories

Japan comes alive in the spring.

The blossoms bloom and the streets are highlighted pink.

The air is full of sweetness. From the smiles of salarymen loosening their ties to the sakura treats lining every shop window. Everybody is getting ready to enjoy the spring festivities.

Japan is renowned for its annual cherry-blossom viewing festival, or Hanami. Everybody flocks to their favourite park, with picnic baskets balanced on the crooks of arms and cameras at the ready.

All to watch the pretty pink petals plummet from the branches above.

It’s beautiful, and the absolute pinnacle of spring.

Unfortunately, with travel bans in place all over the world, it’s not likely you’ll be able to enjoy Hanami in Japan anytime soon.

But don’t panic! You can still celebrate this timeless festival right here in the UK.

Check out this list of the best places to view cherry blossoms in London.

Or learn to make sweet Japanese treats at home.

Or better yet, celebrate by reading some Japanese translated fiction.

Check out our favourite new Japanese translated fiction below, with some great reads from the last year, too.

Be carried away to the streets of Tokyo this spring, just like cherry blossom petals on the wind.

Poetic, eh?

8 Japanese Translated Fiction Books to Read this Spring.

1. First Person Singular by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel

If you’re yet to experience Murakami’s surrealist writing style, then a collection of his short stories would be a great place to start.

Experience Japan through these eight short stories told from Murakami’s skilled first-person perspective. Stories about music, baseball, and memories intertwine to close the gap between the inner self and the outer world. Murakami’s writing is absolutely spellbinding. Perfect to dip in-and-out of on a deliciously long spring picnic.

This particular book is being published on 6th April in the UK. Pre-order yours now.

2. There’s No Such Thing as An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura

Do you sometimes stop what you’re doing during your workday and just think, “there has to be something easier than this?”

For the nameless woman protagonist of Tsumura’s novel, this is her sole aim: to find the easiest job ever.

Sounds like the perfect plan, right?

But, as she ends up moving from job to job, perhaps a quiet life isn’t necessarily what she’s truly searching for.

3. Terminal Boredom by Izumi Suzuki

This book is like Murakami meets Atwood meets Apocalypse Now.

Seriously, this is like nothing you would’ve read before. If you’re a big fan of Black Mirror, then you’ll love this (once it’s released on 20th April).

It comments on the petty societal war between the sexes, and the harsh underworld of poverty that affects every city. If you love dystopian fiction, then this is dystopian on a whole other level. Forget about Room 101, it’s just Terminal Boredom.

It has to be read to be understood; pre-order yours now.

4. Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

I think wishing for a spaceship to take you away is like one of the top five wishes every child has at some point or another. That, and to have a puppy. However, for young Natsuki, it’s all she can think about.

She and her cousin Yuu have to spend their summer in the Nagano mountains, far away from home. Yet, the mountains aren’t as safe as they seem, and something terrible happens. Something that threatens to separate the cousins forever.

That’s when the cousins make a promise to each other: to survive.

Dealing with feelings of alienation, Sayaka Murata’s Earthlings is a dark tale that’s sure to keep you enthralled to the very end.

5. People from My Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Ted Goossen

When you overhear people in your neighbourhood, you usually only hear snippets of their stories.

Stories, that when patched-up by your own imagination, are small and delicate, that could fit into the palm of your hand.

That’s what Hiromi Kawakami wants to recreate with her short story collection, People from My Neighbourhood.

These are tales from around a neighbourhood, but with a fantastic surrealist twist.

In one story, two girls named Yoko are trapped in a bitter rivalry, a battle to the death.

Another, a small child lives under a sheet… for thirty years.

These amazing palm-sized tales carry a big punch.

6. Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa, translated by Alison Watts

An ex-convict who drinks too much.

Who also works in a sweetshop?

For Sentaro, life is long, and the only way he can mark the passage of time is through the annual blooming of the cherry blossoms.

That's until an elderly woman with disfigured hands comes into his life. A woman, with a secret past of her own.

Sukegawa’s Sweet Bean Paste is beautifully written, with prose that’ll knock the biscuits right out of your hand.

It’s a moving tale of how truly powerful friendship can be, and what happens when it’s put to the test.

7. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Another delight from Sayaka Murata.

Japan is known for its traditions, for the strict societal pressures and rules that befall relationships. For Keiko, she wants none of it. No husband, no boyfriend, no career. All she wants to do is work in her beloved convenience store, the store she’s worked in since leaving high school.

Now in her 30s, and still unmarried, she’s forced to make some changes that’ll open her eyes to a whole new way of living.

This story finds the joy out of the simple things in life. From the daily rhythms that guide us, to the unspoken rules we all follow. Sayaka Murata is hailed as being a defining voice of her generation, and with Convenience Store Woman winning the prestigious Akutagawa Prize, we can see why.

This is a masterpiece, and you’re sure to never look at your weekly trip to the supermarket the same way again.

8. How Do You Live? By Genzaburo Yoshino

Immerse yourself in the depth of Tokyo. See the bustling metropolis through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Copper as he watches the people swarming around him. He begins to wonder; how do you live?

He feels lost as he stumbles with trepidation into philosophical questions too big for him to answer. Lost, but determined, he travels to find his wise uncle for guidance.

If you’ve ever questioned what it means to be human, then this poignant coming-of-age tale told within the folds of the unforgettable Tokyo city will become a firm favorite from the very first page.

What Will You Read Next?

What book do you think you’ll read first on your virtual travels? Earthlings has to be top on my to-read list, and I literally can’t wait to get my hands on it! Fingers crossed the paperback comes out soon.

Let us know your favourite from the list above over on our Book Nook Facebook page.

We can’t wait to hear where you want to travel to next with your reading!

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