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Discovering Japan's literature: A goldmine waiting to be discovered

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Discovering Japan's literature: A goldmine waiting to be discovered

There are many ways in which you can dive into Japan's culture and learn more about it. Personally, one of my favorite ways to do this is by finding books by Japanese authors and reading them!

Mochigum

Mochigum

Published on 19 Aug, 12:00

Reading has always been one of my favorite things to do while growing up and being able to read in more than one language has really opened my eyes to different cultures around the world. You can tell a lot about the author and their country when you're diving into their work. Which is why Japanese literature is so interesting to me.

The first time I started reading books by Japanese authors, I could immediately tell how different they were from the typical European or American authors that I tend to go into. And so, thanks to this little habit of mine, I have started to walk around Tokyo trying to find interesting and cozy book shops where I can discover new authors every day.

Discovering Japan's literature: A goldmine waiting to be discovered

I was lucky enough to find a variety of bookshops in Jimbocho when I went out to have some lunch

Jimbocho is considered to be the used book district - just like Shimokitazawa is the thrift store district. So if you're looking for any books to read, you should definitely go here.

The bookshops were basically 3 mins away from the train station. There are about 180 bookshops in this station alone, but unfortunately, since most of the shops I visited are local bookshops, all the books that they offered were in Japanese. But this doesn't mean that you can't go inside and browse either way!

One of my favorite bookshops was the Yamada Shoten because it's a shop that focuses mostly in Japanese art. This shop stole my heart thanks to my love of art and my love for the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Being able to look through the collection of books that they had or the different artists that have left an imprint in Japan was very fun to do. And the best part of this little bookshop was the fact that the books weren't expensive at all! The prices that I saw here would not go over 1000 yen (10 USD) - in fact, the majority of the books were around 500 yen (USD).

Discovering Japan's literature: A goldmine waiting to be discovered

If you know enough Japanese to want to practice your reading and challenge yourself to dive into Japan’s literature - I really recommend coming around to Jimbocho. There are a lot of local bookshops that you can explore and support in the long run!

If you don't know Japanese yet and still want to explore this side of Japan to dwell in its culture, here are some of my favorite authors whose books are available in English! You could go to a more modern bookshop in Tokyo Skytree to find these books or you can also look for them in Amazon.

And if instead you're looking for a way to make some money while making space in your own house - you can always come to Jimbocho to sell your used books! Make sure they're in a good condition though and if they're in another language you might want to look for specific shops like Tamura Shoten where they buy and sell books in different languages.

Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami.
Kafka on the shore by Haruki Murakami.

My favorite authors are Haruki Murakami, Yukio Mishima, and Osamu Dazai. I recommend any of their works, but I do want to give a warning. If you plan on diving into Japan's literature you've got to do it with an open mind. Japan's literature is completely different from Western literature and while it can be a bit confusing - some might say that it's a bit crude or weird.

You're more than welcome to leave this aside if it's not your cup of tea, but if you plan on diving into this anyway - with no prejudice whatsoever, then prepare to understand Japan's art world a little bit more after this.

It's so interesting to see the world through these authors' eyes and the poetry and beauty that they offer is one that will stick with me until the end of times.

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Mochigum

Mochigum

Japanese/Mexican 24 year old woman who just moved into Tokyo to try to pursue her career while re-discovering and re-connecting with her roots as she does so.

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