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Oh! A mystery of mono no aware

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  103 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Oh! was selected for National Public Radio's summer reading list of 2009. NPR reviewer Lucia Silva called it "a triumphant kick in the pants for anyone who doubts the future of paper-and-ink books."
“The mysterious tension between material things and emotional attachment to them oscillates throughout Japanese history and culture. With a keen and sympathetic eye, Todd Shimo
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Chin Music Press Inc. (first published March 1st 2009)
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Jul 20, 2016 Doug rated it really liked it
Not quite a 5, but maybe a 4.5, this is a very unusual book, both in its storyline and presentation. The novel (which seems at least semi-autobiographical) is interspersed with artistic plates done by the author's wife. Not sure what that really adds to the story, but (at least the color ones) are very striking. The plot deals with the concept of mono no aware, roughly the appreciation of emotion, especially sadness and sorrow, and the realm of Japanese suicide cults. Although that sounds rather ...more
Jul 27, 2011 drozda rated it really liked it
The look and feel of this book, in addition to the provocative illustrations, made this a book to own...a most gorgeous design...
the topic, intriguing...

A jaded American, deadened by consumer culture, becomes dangerously obsessed with a group suicide in Japan.

Bobby Bermea
What Todd Shimoda has done with Oh! A Mystery of Mono No Aware is create a modern parable of our time. It's difficult imagining this book being written before the advent of the 21st century and interesting to see what the future will hold in its wake. A young Japanese-American, a technical writer, is searching for a "deep, sustained emotional experience". His lack of such experiences in his life suggests to him that he might not in fact, even be capable having one.

His quest takes him to Japan w
Apr 24, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing
Zack Hara is a Japanese-American who feels confined by a sense of emotional aridity. He decides to go to Japan, where he becomes intrigued by so-called "suicide clubs," whose members bolster one another's resolve in putting an end to their lives. He loses his translation job because he has overstayed his tourist visa and falls under the sway of a Professor Imai, who employs him part-time and sets various tasks for him to perform, such as writing poetry, investigating a particular suicide club in ...more
Sep 05, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it
the packaging of this book is sublime. from the texture and quality and color of the cover and the endpapers to the interwoven snippets of art. it's an object that you want to hold and look at. i adored the little line drawings that opened up each chapter [more than the calligraphic paintings].

the book itself is deceptively easy to read i think. it really is a mystery w/ dropped hints and foreshadowing and if you are just skimming along getting involved in the characters you kind of forget that
Oh!: A mystery of 'mono no aware' by Todd Shimoda, and beautifully illustrated by Todd s wife, is a phenomenal experience. The copy I received from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program was the final production copy. When I held the package in my hands, I wondered why in the world the package was so heavy. Even its arrival created a mystery! I opened the package and held one of the most beautiful books I have ever had the pleasure of seeing and I work in a library. The cover design is a deligh ...more
Tony Brasunas
Jan 17, 2016 Tony Brasunas rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, cultural, writing
A physically gorgeous book with delicious textured paper and artwork, Oh! A Mystery if Mono No Aware is a travel story, a mystery, and a cultural commentary rolled into one. And it holds together quite well, with artful flourishes throughout and a certain blase entertainment. But it never truly triumphs in any of these three genres.

The mood is the essence of the story, and it starts on a bit of a downer and pretty much stays there until the end. In some ways this mood is a stroke of genius, as
May 12, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Oh! A mystery of mono no aware is a hybrid novel, with nonfiction and artwork mixed in. The main storyline follows Zack Hara, a young Japanese American searching for an emotional life while traveling in Japan.

Oh! Is an amazing book - both in presentation and in storyline. It is a mystery presented in a rather "informative" manner. The sporadic poetry and illustrations add to the story. Unique in every way. Insignificant details become critical, less typical is the addition of Zack���s personal
Though I wasn’t able to finish this philosophy fiction, it was intriguing – one westerner’s search for the Japanese concept of perfect Mono No Aware in life, while learning exactly what it is. Oversimplified, the term means the transient beauty of life, something that is in fact beautiful in its lack of longevity. The most used example of this is the sudden bursting forth of cherry trees whose blossoms soon fall and wither. This is a book that will put a substantial claim on your time and mental ...more
In his quest to experience "mono no aware," a concept from Japanese literature that has to do with experiencing deep emotions in immediate response to one's environment, an emotionally dead young man unravels a mystery, learns to write poetry, and researches Japanese suicide groups.

It's a beautiful book containing lots of artwork by the author's wife. Even the paper was gorgeous.

Aug 02, 2009 Lynne rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-2010
From this novel, I began to understand the untranslatable Japanese concept of mono no aware, a deep emotional all understanding response to the "other" (I still don't quite have it)...natural world, human condition...but in a very specific and sudden moment, thus the title, "Oh!" This book integrates story, poetry, art, and philosophical exposition. Linda Shimoda is the illustrator and book designer.
Bjoy Davidson
Jun 15, 2009 Bjoy Davidson rated it really liked it
Don't remember ever reading a book constructed like this one. Physically, plotwise (if it is a plot) and with that Zen complicated spareness that can seep into your thinking/feeling. Mono no aware. Sigh
Oct 31, 2009 Suzanne rated it really liked it
An intriguing story about a disaffected American man's investigation into the Japanese concept of mono no aware. The tale is told via narrative, ink paintings (done by the writer's wife), poetry, and definitions. The book itself is a work of art - gorgeously bound.
Jun 16, 2009 Laura rated it it was ok
i got pretty into bits and pieces, and i like the attempt to throw art into the mix, but something didn't quite click. if i were rating it before i read the final couple of chapters i probably would've bumped it up to 3 stars.
Windy Dorresteyn
Feb 04, 2010 Windy Dorresteyn rated it really liked it
Fascinating so far. Reminds me of Murakami: character in transition in life, general unsettled feeling in narrative, search for meaning in Japanese countryside.
Oct 11, 2012 Machiko rated it really liked it
Oh wow, Oh! is right.
Mark Folse
Jun 26, 2011 Mark Folse rated it really liked it
So far: another gorgeous Chin Music Press book and a fascinating tale. More when I'm done.
Apr 28, 2014 Casey rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible book both in elegance of literary content and perfection of printing and binding. (Kudos to Chin Music Press on that too...)
Jul 07, 2010 Lori rated it really liked it
lovely book, moves delightfully slowly and beautifully, asian sensibilities preferred. really liked it
Dec 27, 2015 Ronan rated it it was amazing
First book of the year.


Read for upcoming JET book club meeting. Can't wait to talk about it and puzzle through the meaning with others.

Oct 09, 2009 Cheryl rated it liked it
verreee interesting. A mystery w/ a Japanese/American man at the center of it, but the novel centering in Japan. Beautifully bound book, too.
Melissa N.
Jun 29, 2012 Melissa N. rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous book inside and out. Story is very provocative and the story itself held so much emotion.
Catherine  Mustread
May 25, 2009 Catherine Mustread marked it as to-read
Recommended to Catherine by: SA 051309
"A fascinating glimpse into a little-known dark side of Japanese culture as well as a compelling account of an obsession with feeling emotional epiphany at any price."
Martha Grace
Mar 07, 2011 Martha Grace rated it really liked it
This is a tale of coming in touch with your emotions, a tale of the old and the current. Local Kauai author
Jul 01, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it
John rated it liked it
Apr 16, 2017
Rebecca rated it liked it
May 03, 2011
Jon Munster
Jon Munster rated it really liked it
Feb 16, 2012
Alex rated it liked it
Apr 21, 2011
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