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3.61  ·  Rating details ·  9,069 ratings  ·  1,111 reviews
Like The Catcher in the Rye or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Botchan, a hilarious tale about a young man's rebellion against "the system" in a country school, is a classic of its kind. Among Japanese readers both young and old it has enjoyed a timeless popularity, making it, according to Donald Keene, "probably the most widely read novel in modern Japan."

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Paperback, 172 pages
Published March 16th 2007 by Kodansha (first published 1906)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,069 ratings  ·  1,111 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-japanese
”Now that I thought about it, though, I realized that most people actually encourage you to turn bad. They seem to think that if you don't, you'll never get anywhere in the world. And then on those rare occasions when they encounter somebody who's honest and pure-hearted, they look down on him and say he's nothing but a kid, a Botchan. If that's the way it is, it would be better if they didn't have those ethics classes in elementary school and middle school where the teacher is always telling yo ...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
May 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
This was a somewhat strange deviation from a lot of the Japanese Lit I've read. This is particularly interesting given the time period which this was released, as most of the literature-literature (that is to say, Fiction Novels as opposed to fairy tales, poetry, religious/spiritual/political manifestos, etc) which I have read have been, for the most part, from decades after the release of Botchan. Originally published in the early 20th Century, it goes without saying that this novel came from a ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Botchan is like Japan's Tom Sawyer. It is read by schoolchildren across the country and has been the subject of innumerable TV sketches and parodies ever since Soseki wrote it early in the 20th Century. It is a coming-of-age story ripe with sarcasm and very entertaining to read. There is also a comic book version (or more). It is an early masterpiece of Soseki that does not have the depth of I Am A Cat but yet has the power of his prose to make a lasting impression and - since it is long before ...more
Jim Fonseca
Jul 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-authors
This book from 1906, translated from the Japanese, is kind of a “Tom Brown at Oxford” set in Japan, and, in fact, the author did attend British schools, so maybe that’s where he got the idea for the book. A young man from Tokyo finds a job as a math teacher in a boys’ school out in the boondocks. He is a complete and total (insert your favorite anatomical word here). He is arrogant, looks down on the villagers, finds fault with everyone, talks down to his servants and landlords, can’t make frien ...more
Bob Newman
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A rough diamond in Japan

In every country, people treasure certain images of themselves, whether they are accurate or not. In general, among numerous peoples like the Chinese, Japanese, French, Russians, or English, there are so many personality types as to make such images totally stereotypical. In real life, we have to take people as we find them, not stick them into boxes. But in literature, from time to time, an author creates a character that so pleases the readers---perhaps because they ide
John Velo
Short review: it's a Japanese Catcher in the Rye

Japanese literature has been one of the first genres I remember reading and loving — I fell in love with books when I read my first Murakami. Since then, I have ventured and looked for other Japanese authors and have found some that have appealed to me. This is my first Natsume Soseki novel, but sad to say, I am not overly impressed by it as I first thought I would be.

Botchan (or "boy master") tells us of a coming of age story of a mischievous boy
Katie Lumsden
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this one - a bit odd, but very funny! It's a kind of coming of age story, looking at a young man from Tokyo dealing with the gossipy strange world of a small town when he moves there to be a teacher. It kind of reminds me of Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh. ...more
This is lauded as the Japanese "Catcher in the Rye". I agree with this assessment. I have been trying to decide which one I hated less. Hated might be a strong word. Nevertheless, like the character of Holden Caufield, Botchan is very candid, naïve, and narrates with a "fuckall" flair. From what I remember, Botchan seems a lot more close minded and discriminative, as opposed to Holden's lack of intelligence and mental problems. Holden is more against society in general, whereas Botchan has a mor ...more
Nov 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Very funny especially if you have ever been a teacher. It kind of reminds me of the trials and tribulations of Torgodevil in Korea (especially in the beginning). The novel details all the stupid politics and rivalries between teachers and the administration not to mention the students themselves, who are spoiled and unruly. The narrator is also interesting in that he is from Tokyo and looks down upon the small town as provincial and unsophisticated.
Though you can identify with him, the main cha
Mar 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: にほん, ns
Botchan's story of his life as a middle-school teacher in the Japanese countryside is simple and entertaining.Botchan a complete stranger to compliments and praises in his childhood grows to be a loner with a 'I don't care' attitude.He gets confused or rather angry with the subtle manipulations he experiences later in life. The only emotional attachment he has and loves is that with his childhood maid Kiyo, who never stops from showering motherly love and praises on him.
The writings concentrat
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Feb 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This translation has such an engaging voice - in-your-face, unapologetic, a little given to posturing but largely honest and down-to-earth. That sums up the narrator as well. He's a young man who is inclined to be tactless and rash. He has no especially strong ties except to a lady who works for his family as a servant and emerges as a kind of mother figure.

Botchan wanders into a career as a teacher in a provincial school and comes face to face with treachery, hypocrisy and the complexities of
Roxana Chirilă
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some time ago, when I was a student, we had to read Soseki's "Botchan" for Japanese Literature. Now, I wasn't amazingly rich, nor was it exceptionally available in second hand bookshops (you could forget buying a new copy), so I turned to Google and searched for a free copy.

That's how I found Matt Treyvaud's translation, which was free at the time - he'd translated it in a month (NaNoWriMo style, but instead of writing a novel, he translated one), while mostly drunk. And it was a riot: bad langu
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Botchan was written by Soseki in 1905, and it is widely considered to be one of the most important works of Japanese literature, as it was one of the first modern works that touches on the conflict between traditional values and beliefs found in remote Japanese villages, and the influence of the West and a modern society in a major city such as Tokyo.

The narrator is a young man of slight build but feisty spirit who has recently graduated from university with a degree in physics, who has been hir
Jul 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
This novella was neither thought-provoking nor entertaining. My lack of enjoyment, in some part, may have been due to the fact that it's a satire of a specific social order that I'm not familiar with -- but the bulk of the problem lay in the book's over-simplicity.

The intrigues between the 2-dimensional characters (that make up the bulk of the story) are trite, dramaless and inspire no emotional reaction from the reader. Each of the faculty members has one or two personal qualities and does not
By Natsume Soseki (1867-1916)

This short novel, written in the first person, is the story of a young man who grew up in Tokyo and after graduating from high school accepted a job as a teacher in a remote village by the sea, far south.

As you would expect, his first experience as a young teacher is sewn with stumbling blocks.
Riotous students, as well as a sly and hypocrite gang of fellow instructors, make his life miserable.
He is simple-minded but honest and intolerant to injustice, he is h
Botchan (1906) is a comic novel whose enduring appeal continues to entertain generations of Japanese readers. It's main character is a newly graduated Tokyo-bred young man sent to teach mathematics at middle school in an out of the way locality. As a young boy, Botchan, as he was fondly called by the household help Kiyo, is destined to be the black sheep of the family. His relationship with his father and brother is civil at best. Kiyo is the only one who was patient with him and who believed he ...more
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, asian-lit, humor
Faculty politics is nasty and brutish. Natsume Sōseki also shows us that it can be funny. A young graduate is sent to a country town in southern Japan and finds himself in a middle school where the faculty politics is unrelenting and devastating. The book Botchan is Japanese for "young master."

Though he lasts scarcely a month, he manages to wreak revenge on "Red Shirt" and "Clown" in a satisfying way, which I will not describe here for fear of ging away the plot.

This is a quick read and a well-
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now that I thought about it, though, I realized that most people actually encourage you to turn bad. They seem to think that if you don't, you'll never get anywhere in the world. And then on those rare occasions when they encounter somebody who's honest and pure-hearted, they look down on him and say he's nothing but a kid, a Botchan. If that's the way it is, it would be better if they didn't have those ethics classes in elementary school and middle school where the teacher is always telling you
Jun 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Botchan is the nickname of the otherwise unnamed narrator, a young man who leaves Tokyo to teach math at a middle school in a country town in the south of Japan. He has no particular interest in teaching, but he has nothing better to do so he accepts the job when offered. Botchan the novel is considered the most widely-read of all Japan's modern novels and Botchan the character is often compared to Holden Caulfield, but I find the comparison inapt since Holden was an obnoxious creep who thought ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I did not expect when I read, its been said that this was closely alike with Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn's adventures. A very fun reading and so entertaining in the beginning, though get little bit dull in the middle to the end of the book, full of satire about morality and fakeness in the society.

I thought there would be some serious rebellious acts towards school or society system, as it was written at back of the cover. But NO, the confrontations are merely viewed as sa
J.M. Hushour
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Natsume's first published novels and is widely regarded as a timeless classic in Japan, on par with Huck Finn, I suppose. Botchan is a fresh-faced yet hilariously bitter and acerbic young man navigating the torturous absurdities of Japan around 1905. Taking a job as a math teacher in a the Japanese equivalent of redneck backwater, he is exposed to the torments of students and colleagues alike, which he quietly rages against in writing. Noteworthy for its scathing commentaries on s ...more
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I may revise my star rating upwards after I think some more about this book and the time period it was written during. At the very least, it was funny (though not hilarious like the description says) thanks to the narrator's attitude (must come up with an accurate adjective) and i really did enjoy it. This is three stars of the strong variety, not wishy-washy variety. More later... ...more
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First read - 20/7/2014-26/7/2014. Loved it then, loved it now.
Hiba Arrame
I don't really know how to feel about this one, not to say I disliked it, but I just didn't feel it. It went right above me, and I'm afraid I am subconsciously comparing Kokoro to this one, and will probably do the same thing with the rest of Natsume's books.
It was fun reading about Botchan and accompanying him through his days, there were parts where I had a good laugh and others where I wanted to take Botchan by his shoulders and shake some sense into him. He is good willed, but too impulsive
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
'Ever since I was a child, my inherent recklessness has brought me nothing but trouble …'

'Botchan' was written 106 years ago and is still one of most popular books in Japan.

'Botchan' is the story of Botchan, not his name, its a endearing or dismissive name for a young man of a respectable family, his real name is never revealed.

Botchan has always been a handful for his family and as he gets older, he still remains a handful. Following the death of his Father, Botchan uses his inheritance to stu
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Botchan: A Modern Classic by Natsume Sōseki was a complete pleasure. Written in the early 20th century, in Japan it nonetheless feels completely modern. The translation I read was a very old one and seemed a bit awkward. Despite that, the story of a young man in Tokyo who feels too honest for his world and surrounded by phonies was as close in tone as that sounds to The Catcher in the Rye. It was, however, somewhat more lighthearted. As a teacher, I have to admit I identified with the hero who t ...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
Now this is a Japanese classic about morale, but I had to look this up, to really get it.
The novel follows a rather dislikable character, who looks down on others and is very judgmental. However, he is also a very simple and straightforward guy, following what he beliefs is right and honest behavior.
We mainly watch him in a village surrounding on his first assignment after his studies. He is a teacher in a school and there are many situations, where he gets into trouble with other people/teacher
Aug 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was fun, short, verging on sweet. Because I am not entirely sure what I took from it morally (unless I am to imagine it's a straight a,b,c growing up tale - I'm not sold that it is), I can't really say I found it completely sweet. I don't know what the word is because amoral, lacking morals, all have a bad sense about them. Maybe it had empty morals. Or maybe even morals that really weren't morals at all.


I'm totally enjoying this book. Also, I'm freaked out because it randomly mention
George K. Ilsley
It's is never too late to achieve the education of a Japanese high school student. I wonder if they still read this one?

This is a Japanese classic, roughly the equivalent of Catcher in the Rye, in that it is now considered YA and pokes fun at received wisdom. However, Botchan (the nickname of the protagonist) is so sweet, to my eyes— the rebellion is so muted, so Japanese, that at most the book reads as gentle humour.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There was something quirky in this book that I just really liked. Loved the blunt narration and the narrator's dry humor and lack of sensitivity. Funny story with a few honest-to-goodness gems of interpersonal insight. ...more
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Japanese Literature: Botchan, by Natsume Sōseki 12 91 Aug 06, 2015 03:28PM  
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Natsume Sōseki (夏目 漱石), born Natsume Kinnosuke (夏目 金之助), was a Japanese novelist. He is best known for his novels Kokoro, Botchan, I Am a Cat and his unfinished work Light and Darkness. He was also a scholar of British literature and composer of haiku, kanshi, and fairy tales. From 1984 until 2004, his portrait appeared on the front of the Japanese 1000 yen note. In Japan, he is often considered t ...more

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“Now that I thought about it, though, I realized that most people actually encourage you to turn bad. They seem to think that if you don't, you'll never get anywhere in the world. And then on those rare occasions when they encounter somebody who's honest and pure-hearted, they look down on him and say he's nothing but a kid, a Botchan. If that's the way it is, it would be better if they didn't have those ethics classes in elementary school and middle school where the teacher is always telling you to be honest and not lie. The schools might as well just go ahead and teach you how to tell lies, how to mistrust everybody, and how to take advantage of people. Wouldn't their students, and the world at large, be better off that way? Redshirt had laughed at me for being simpleminded. If people are going to get laughed at for being simpleminded and sincere, there's no hope. Kiyo never laughed at me for saying anything like what I said to Redshirt. She would have been deeply impressed by it. Compared to Redshirt, she's far and away the superior person.” 57 likes
“إن كان الصدق والبساطة يجعلان المرء عرضة للاستهزاء، فهذا يعني أنه لم يعد هناك أمل في هذا العالم” 22 likes
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