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3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  1,681 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
Set in the great human maelstrom of Tokyo, Strangers is a thinking man's ghost story. When Harada, a jaded TV scriptwriter, runs into his long-dead parents one night, he enters the womb of a city whose living inhabitants have perhaps lost their souls. Can Harada save his?
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Vertical (first published 1987)
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103rd out of 487 books — 2,319 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nancy Oakes
Feb 20, 2008 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Japanese ghost stories or fiction
Recommended to Nancy by: amazon
Shelves: horror
Very brief, this reads quickly & it is easy to read as well. If, like myself, you are a fan of Japanese ghost stories, you're going to see the end coming on this one right away so that kind of spoiled it for me, because this story is very much in line with the old traditional type of ghostly tale from Japan.

A brief summary:

Harada-san (Hideo) is in his mid 40s, is a scriptwriter for television who isn't working all that much any more and lives alone, having been recently divorced and never t
Jul 17, 2007 Fern rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
lovely atmospherics in this japanese ghost story that is more elegaic than shocking. well at least till the denouement. yamada was a scriptwriter. so he really knows how to grab your attention. and there's a great portrait of the mind of a salaryman too.
Mar 31, 2013 David rated it liked it
Shelves: big-red-circle
The people in Harada's life are ghosts, and the ghosts in his life are people. It's actually pretty cute. The stuff with the parents was adorable, and I liked the reveal at the end.

I wasn't sure about the translation of the Dad's dialogue... it's all "Whadja expect?" and "Okey-dokey". Too "Dick Van Dyke in 'Mary Poppins'" for me.
Dec 22, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
When one is accustomed to the trends of American fantasy novels, it's a refreshing shock to the system to come across a clean, spare little book like Taichi Yamada's Strangers. The blurbs on the cover call it a "ghost story"; it is exactly that, delivered without pretention and with a classic sort of eerieness that hearkens back to The Twilight Zone and even farther, with echoes of mythic tales of what one must and must not do when encountering the dead.

Hideo Harada is a middle-aged TV scriptwri
Mar 20, 2008 Rhodri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much as I wanted this book to work I have to admit that it doesn't deserve more than an average rating. Perhaps something was lost in the translation, but the narrator's musings were heavyhanded and denied the reader any sense of involvement in the book. You were told how things were and that was that. In the moments when the writer decided to let you read the story, and not the narrator's view on matters, there were some genuinely moving moments, but these were too few and far between, which ...more
A beautifully written ghost story. The end felt a little rushed for me, but contemplative and gorgeous prose made up for it all.
Suzanne (Chick with Books) Yester
A Japanese Ghost Story that will Haunt you...

One of the things I love about the Japanese Literature I've discovered this year is its ability to weave the present day with the spirits of the past so matter of fact. Spirits are accepted as existing. Strangers by Taichi Yamada is such a story. It's a ghost story, but more than that. There is an underlying layer that makes this a much more complex story, one that will have you questioning your own heart...

Imagine meeting your parents when they are a
Parrish Lantern

When you meet someone for the first time, there's a formality to it, like a polite introduction.This is usually followed by a period of time where you size each other up. Am I going to like this individual, what have we in common, is there enough interest for me to put in the effort? Whether conscious of this or not, we are checking each other out ,but every now & then someone comes along that cuts right through that. Beyond the slight introduction, which you're already laughing at, because
Mar 20, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it
A mother and father in their thirties with a 48-year-old son could not be of the real world, of course, but if an imagined world could allow such a relationship to exist, then I was ready to embrace that world. The terror I’d felt before was gone; floating before me were my parents’ joyful smiles welcoming me into their home.


Harada is a television screenwriter living in Tokyo. He is divorced, estranged from his son, and his best friend and working partner has dissolved their relationship to p
Aug 20, 2007 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like their horror more Ring-like than Nightmare on Elm Street
I bought this for research. It is not my usual fare. It features a solitary script-writer living alone in a tower block which seems to house only him and a young woman. One night the man, suffering from a bout of nostalgia, visits the part of the city where he was brought up only to run into a man who seems identical to his father. In time he meets the man's wife and he is not surprised to find she looks like his mother. Visiting them, as he finds himself compelled to do, takes its toll on his h ...more
Oct 21, 2007 Lolakay rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I finished Strangers a few days ago. Odd little book. It basically reads like a bad Japanese horror movie. (Think The Eye, which is actually Chinese.) The amazing plot twist at the end is pretty obvious at the beginning, but it's fun as a ghost story. The narration (or maybe the translation) is a bit stilted at points, but some of the scenes, where the protagonist meets up with his dead parents, who are 'living' in a nearby Tokyo neighborhood, are kind of touching. Anyway, this book gave me craz ...more
Nov 07, 2010 Liz rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed by this book, the premise was interesting and I started expecting good things. The author was a TV scriptwriter before turning his hand to novels - and Strangers reads like mediocre TV drama. The dialogue was terrible, I cringed at every line and the twist in the tale was far too obvious. I may be being unfair, I think the biggest problem with the book was the translation, the clunkiest I've read in a long time.
Nick G
Feb 10, 2014 Nick G rated it really liked it
I'm always searching for fiction that blends surreal elements into reality in a unique but natural sort of way, without attempting to explain it all away logically. In short, something that makes reality feel like some kind of abstract dream state and then just goes with it. There's no genre for this, as far as I'm aware, but it's something I enjoy. This story was just that, if not a 'lite' version of what I typically find. That isn't a bad thing, either, as it makes for a quick read.

The langua
David Haws
Apr 03, 2012 David Haws rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-fiction
While I like speculative fiction, “ghost stories” aren’t my favorites, and I probably wouldn’t have read the book except that they had it in our library’s section of Japanese fiction. I find the concept a little weak. How did 桂 (I’m grateful the translator left us enough information to determine the kanji of Kei’s name) become so powerful by simply killing herself? What was the point of the misdirection with the parents? Why use a first person narrative so you know the protagonist is going to su ...more
Nick Tramdack
Mar 10, 2011 Nick Tramdack rated it really liked it
I read this book in a Caribou Coffee on Halsted Street during a depressing time in my life. The windows were rainy, I was almost the only person in the store. But Yamada's absorbing story and sharp style succeeded in distracting me from my troubles.

Some technical observations:

"By the same token, getting divorced wasn't likely to expand the horizons of an over-40 television writer so terribly much. I knew this." Look at how the narration takes 3 words to emphasize that this judgment was being mad
I have to admit that the book is not like what I imagined it to be, I was expecting it to be a full haunting blood chill kinda story…but I wouldn’t say that I don’t like it, in fact I really like it. The story is well-written and like most Japanese novels I had read so far, Strangers (originally titled Ijin-tachi to no Natsu or Summer With Strangers) is closed with great ending. I really like the realization that hits him in the end of his journey. And the ending gives something for us to think… ...more
Gertrude & Victoria
Strangers, by Yamada Taichi, is a story of a middle-aged scriptwriter in the midst of a small personal crisis, who is caught in a bizarre set of circumstances, as his life is interrupted by an unexpected and ghostly encounter. Yamada's style is lucid, concise and modern, which makes for easy reading. He capably delivers you from one scene to the next, with a cool Japanese chic.

The main character, Hara, is stranded between two worlds as he tries to seperate, reality from illusion, apparition from
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
William Cook
Jan 04, 2016 William Cook rated it really liked it
An excellent supernatural tale of loss by Taichi Yamada

This review is from: Strangers (Paperback)

An excellent supernatural tale of loss, love and grief. Yamada excels at building a subtle story that portrays indirect emotional characterisation within the main character, Harada. The story delves into Harada's inner world and as his past unwinds before us we discover that it is not necessarily a physical reality but more of a paranormal/supernatural one that he is confronted with. Recommended for
Mar 15, 2012 Maisha rated it really liked it
As I started opening the first pages, Strangers seemed pretty exciting regardless of the genre, which is horror and personally I do not enjoy such books. I didn't read it as a horror novel, and I found myself reflecting over several things rather getting horrified over the book. The story is well written, pretty different than the styles I have seen before. The language used is easy to comprehend, with several formal English words introduced because I've never heard some of them. But as the stor ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read many ghost stories but I enjoyed this quick-read. I would have liked to give it 3.5 stars but have given it the benefit of the doubt at 4! Very atmospheric, I enjoyed the characters and writing style.
Aug 10, 2012 Noam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i only knew about this book from pretentiously wanting to read it before watching the obayashi movie based on it, but it was well worth the obscure recommendation. good show. i'm not sure how it could possibly be read as a horror story, so the frequent exhortation to "not read it as a horror story" is a little odd: this is much more like a (ryu) murakami book - in a good way - and not just because it's japanese... the terse writing and family dynamic are the winners. but the specters and spooks ...more
Dec 07, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is rather... odd, wonderfully odd. I had never read anything by Taichi Yamada before and this ended up being quite a lovely surprise. I am glad I bought it! I don't really want to get into the story because I am afraid I will reveal details that might ruin the experience for you. I can tell you one thing though... it makes you think.

Think twice before not listening... to someone's words, to someone's gestures, to someone's eyes... they might tell you something important. Pay attention
Jun 22, 2016 Dorie rated it really liked it eerie, strange story. But I couldn't put it down. Great story, great twists and endearing characters. I liked this alot!! Recommend
Alexa Rose
Apr 21, 2016 Alexa Rose rated it liked it
STRANGERS by Taichung Yamada

There is something about Japanese horror that is truly terrifying. Even a slow paced, drama-like horror can still scare you out of your wits. So I was expecting to read this and then want to leave the lights on all night and never be home alone etc etc Needless to say my expectations were HIGH as a kite. I didn't even check for a rating because I didn't want to taint my experience with any spoilers.
This was surprisingly easy to read, fast paced, and qui
Marta Kule
Apr 19, 2016 Marta Kule rated it liked it
Writing exercise: what expression would you use in a dialogue in which your character says something and right away thinks something else that he/she doesn't verbalize? Fill in the blank:

"No. Since it's not as if I'm in any kind of pain." And since I don't appear the least bit changed to myself when I look in the mirror, I ________.

Did you come up with "thought" or "added in my mind" or "added in my thoughts"? Well, you're wrong. The answer, appearing on page 135 of Strangers is "appended inward
Mar 20, 2014 Surymae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
...Ecco qui un altro libro da aggiungere alla lista "romanzi che se fossero stati più X e meno Y sarebbero potuti essere capolavori". Due cose fatte diversamente, infatti, avrebbero salvato "Estranei" da questa ignominosa lista.
La prima: lo stile di scrittura. Possibile che gli autori giapponesi scrivano sempre alla stessa maniera? Li scrivono con il pilota automatico? O non esistono scrittori giapponesi, bensì un super computer che elabora di volta in volta i romanzi? Ma soprattutto: possibile
Jul 29, 2008 Potjy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Murakami fandom that can stand creepy things
Can I give this book 4-and-a-half or 4-and-three-quarter stars? Huh? Nope? Oh, so bad.

I've read in a magazine somewhere that you should NOT read this as a horror. Well, I agree with the columnist, it is much more profound than that. However, when the author wants to present his idea in the form of horror novel, so it must be a horror novel. Therefore, when some good horror elements were lost, I feel obliged to subtract a quarter or two of a star from my rating.
Sep 06, 2015 Ron rated it it was amazing
This book made me cry.
Feb 02, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college-library
At first glance this book is a simple little ghost story; a nice quick read. However as the pages turn you slowly become aware that there is a hidden meaning in the actions and interactions of the characters. This simple little book encourages the reader to think about how our actions have a ripple effect that disrupt the waters of other's lives. Strangers is quite a refreshing look at the aspects of human nature
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Taichi Yamada is one of the most famous and highly respected writers in Japan. Winner of many awards for literary excellence from private organizations and from the Japanese government, he is best known for his scripts for TV dramas, but has also written many novels and plays. He was born in Tokyo in 1934, and graduated from Waseda University in 1958 after having studied japanese Language and Lite ...more
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“In fact, knowing she'd been through hardship filled me with sweet tenderness.” 5 likes
“Как я живу, если вдуматься? Реагирую на беспрерывную вереницу событий, они волнуют меня какое-то время, но не откладываются в душе, а улетают куда-то далеко-далеко. Я опять и опять каждый день встречаю новый день, но не взрослею. А когда прихожу в себя – старость уже на пороге.” 0 likes
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