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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,910 ratings  ·  241 reviews
One of Soseki's most beloved works of fiction, the novel depicts the 23-year-old Sanshiro leaving the sleepy countryside for the first time in his life to experience the constantly moving 'real world' of Tokyo, its women and university. In the subtle tension between our appreciation of Soseki's lively humour and our awareness of Sanshiro's doomed innocence, the novel comes ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published June 28th 2002 by Center for Japanese Studies/University of Michigan (first published 1908)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  2,910 ratings  ·  241 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-japanese
“When he heard that Sanshiro was going to school forty hours a week, his eyes popped. "You idiot! Do you think it would 'satisfy' you to eat what they serve at your rooming house ten times a day?"
"What should I do?" Sanshiro pleaded.
"Ride the streetcar," Yojiro said.
Sanshiro tried to find Yojiro's hidden meaning, without success.
"You mean a real streetcar?" he asked.
Yojiro laughed uncontrollably. "Get on the streetcar and ride around Tokyo ten or fifteen times. After a while it will just happen
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: stray sheep
Recommended to Mariel by: lost child
I can't believe I'm saying this, but, for once, I'm glad that I'm not an intellectual. Haruki Murakami wrote the introduction to Soseki's Sanshiro (note: I read the "new" translation by Jay Rubin, who should be well known to my fellow Murakami fans [Further to the side note! It felt good to be hearing again through Rubin's cover songs.]). I love Murakami in my greedy passion fashion. In 2004 I read every translated work at that time in a couple of months (followed closely by all yet translated ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This was a beautiful book from my favorite Japanese author and yet one of his most depressing. After a euphoric stage of his life that produced his happy masterpieces Botchan and I Am A Cat, Soseki grew more and more morose as the Meiji government took on more and more of the aspects of an empire-building police state and his liberal sensibilities were justifiably saddened and depressed. A lot of this sadness comes across in Sanshirô. I won't spoil the plot because despite its dour tone, the ...more
ἀρχαῖος (arkhaîos)
There are many, more complete reviews of this novel here on GR. Below you will find little more than my thoughts.

Sanshirō is another classic Japanese novel about cultural change. But like the other Natsume Sōseki book I have read, Kokoro, the reader is presented with a main character who never really catches on to the world of change into he has moved to study at the university. Sanshirō remains throughout the novel the "lost sheep", the appellation bestowed upon him by Mineko, the beautiful
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note on Japanese Name Order and Pronunciation
Further Reading
Translator's Note


Inderjit Sanghera
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Soseki's prose is opalescent, just like he cumulus of clouds which appear so often in 'Sanshiro', there is something ethereal and captivating about the atmosphere which Soseki is able to create in 'Sanshiro', a kind of wistfulness hovers over the characters as the reader is caught up in the wan beauty of Soseki's prose style. One can easily distinguish the influence on (especially early) Murukami not only with the prose style (although Soseki is more poetic, but also with their preoccupation ...more
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Meenakshi, Motheaten
Shelves: fiction, japan
When I first saw this novel's title, I thought it's the story as depicted as a cartoon or movie series on television that our children enjoyed watching some 15-20 years ago. I was then reading Natsume Soseki's excerpts in the pocketbook compiled by Donald Keene. Indeed it was my misunderstanding since it's a story about Sanshiro, a provincial protagonist dictated by fate to pursue his university life in Tokyo some 100 years ago ( this novel first published in 1908-9).

There are a few points I'd
Feb 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-red-circle
"I'm shy boy!"

I don't know where it came from, but saying "I'm shy boy!" in English and moving your hands to a cutesy under the chin pose was something some young men did (do?) in Japan. One time, the male teachers were drunk and talking about going to a girly bar. One of those that wasn't saying "I'm shy boy!" kept saying "It's paradise in the earth! It's paradise in the earth!" but his pronunciation was such that us two native English speakers thought he was saying, "It's paradise in the arse!
May 31, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
#JapaneseJune Book #3.

It took me a lot longer to read this book than it really should have, especially as it was on the Kindle. Thank goodness for long train journeys to and from work otherwise I might never have got to the end of this before the end of June!

I thought that Sanshiro would be right up my alley but unfortunately it wasn't. For a classic, I couldn't really understand the hype this time around. It follows the character of Sanshiro, who has moved from the countryside to the big city
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
So far, "Sanshirō" is my favorite Natsume Sōseki novel. Written over 100 years ago during the presence of the Meiji era in Japan, it's a book that is very much of its time. Japan at the time was feeling the influence of the West - in particular with the arts from that period. English and European literature were being translated into Japanese, and Sōseki is a writer who was very much under the influence of Western writers as well as its various philosophies - yet, the beauty of this book deals ...more
Hideko Piplani
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel makes language beautiful and makes you feel like you're been speaking gibberish all your life. You want to learn language all over again. An absolutely marvelous text. Love it for its beautiful wording and play on feelings. You'd love it, whatever kind of reader you may be.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

“Still looking at him, Mineko said, ‘Lost child’.
He did not respond.
‘Do you know how to translate that into English?’
The question was too unexpected. Sanshiro could answer neither that he knew nor that he did not know.
‘Shall I tell you?’
‘Stray sheep’.

Natsume Soseki’s novel “Sanshiro” is about stray sheep. None more so than its title character, Sanshiro Ogawa.
Born in the southern Japanese countryside (perhaps uncoincidentally, home to one of the last gasps of rebellion against the
J.M. Hushour
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"You are nothing but typewriters, greedy typewriters."

"Take the lid off something that stinks, and you find a manure bucket."

I love reading a really great book that you just never want to end. You want to stretch out the machinations and goings-on of the characters so that it lasts forever. You even find yourself reading it slower to make it last longer. Natsume will always have this power for me, but there was something sad and funny about this one that really sticks with me. It's basically
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
When it boils down to it, this is a novel about being too cowardly to approach a woman. We've all had a moment where she was totally hitting on you, and what were you thinking?! You could sort of consider Sanshiro a Meiji-period Catcher in the Rye, except backwards; he goes TO school, starts off thinking optimistically about people and goes from there. This one's safely within the usual Soseki formula of a passive male lead amongst a host of more distinguishable characters, trying to make sense ...more
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story was like taking the train from a random place to another. It is following a part of the life of Sanshiro who moves to Tokyo from the countryside to study at university. It depicts a great deal of student life and Japan in the early 20th century. The book is slow and pleasent. Sanshiros point of view is very non-judgmental so you can appreciate and criticise the people in his life in your own way. I've found them to be very realistic. For example you have the intelligent and analyzing ...more
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't hate this book. But I didn't like it either.

It feels like one of those books that makes sense for the time period it was written in/for. It's nostalgic. A young country man who is embarking from town life to the country side for the start of his university studies. The initial chaos and excitement that later becomes subdued as he adjusts. In a way, it's astounding how much the university experience has not changed (and it's not always a good thing). Sanshiro, our protagonist is quite
Nicky Neko
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5? I think. But I'll give it a 4. Cos a 3.5 for Sōseki is a 4 for any other writer.

A good book, but not one of Sōseki's best (that I've read), although I did enjoy it. It was interesting reading in the introduction by Murakami Haruki that it's one of his favourites.

As always with Sōseki, there are some blinding quotes. Here are a few that resonated with me. First, one about life in general:

But then the man said, "Tokyo is bigger than Kumamoto. And Japan is bigger than Tokyo. And even bigger
220914: this edition read came with a thirty-page critical essay on this and other soseki natsume work, but the work itself, simple, clear, gently comic coming of age story, is very good without reading it, or knowing his other work. if you have read him before, there is some familiarity with both characters- older sensei, young innocent, cynical young friend, attractive young woman, unapproachable ideal woman- and concerns- japanese culture, arts, facing western world, painting, poetry- and ...more
Margaux Andrea
This article in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies by the translator (Jay Rubin) has been really helpful in my understanding of the various imagery and symbolism employed by Soseki in the novel:
Sanshirō and Sōseki

Samir Rawas Sarayji
A slow-paced social commentary novel of early modern Japan, which follows a handful of characters with very different personalities as they go through a year at university. There is the shy protagonist, the mischievous friend, the timid girl, the mysterious girl, the rambling professor and the reserved scientist.
Heidi Burkhart
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a slow-paced and meandering book. A young man has left home to attend university. His emotions were genuine, and I could picture scenes clearly thanks to Soseki's beautiful descriptions. It took me quite a while to get through this book, but I was glad that I gave myself the time that I needed to do it. Lovely.
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The writing style of the author was extremely interesting, and as some critics have noted, Soseki's style is actually very modern and forward-looking for his time. Contrary to typically nationalistic views of Japan, Soseki inserts anecdotes and personal views into this story that sometimes seems to mock certain cultural aspects, or question some social rules, which makes it entertaining to read as well(refer to notes at the back of the book).
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Sanshirō watches life sweeping him along the same way he looks at clouds sailing through the sky. The free movement of his gaze draws us in almost before we know it, and we forget to view him critically.”
-Haruki Murakami
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
My friend gave me a Soseki book (10 Nights of Dream) for my birthday a few years back, and I felt a kinship with this writer right away. The subtlety of his storytelling (which can make his books slow to read, but they're worth the effort) and his naive/repressed main characters somehow speak to me.

This book is about a country boy who moves to the big city (Tokyo) for college, but anyone who's familiar with Soseki's work will tell you it's really about the tension between old and new Japan. He
Sep 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Generally not the biggest fan of coming of age novels, but Soseki kept me hooked on this one. Another interesting novel depicting the transition of Japan into the modern-era filled with philosophical and social discussions that keep you hooked. The relevant comparisons between East and West alone are of great value to the reader, but Sanshiro's transition from country to city life and his interactions with some inhabitatants of the city that he befriends that spur on his first love and his ...more
Ethan Evans
5/5-an incredible novel. After reading this book I have the utmost respect for Soseki Natsume, who (in my mind at least) was one of the greatest writers of the early 20th century. Sanshiro is a coming of age story of a different kind, unlike any you could find in western literature. Whilst not being particularly plot-driven, the novel is very intelligently written, with a range of brilliant characters and witty dialogue. Sanshiro's the kind of book that you feel enriched reading, and that you ...more
David Haws
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese-fiction
It seems like a very modern novel to have been written more than 100 years ago. Very different from Kokoro, and much better than Botchan.
Roxana Chirilă
"Sanshiro" didn't appeal to me as much as I'd expected - I'm a small fan of Natsume Soseki, so I naturally grabbed this volume the moment I saw it, expecting to devour it whole the moment I started it. It didn't really happen. Which doesn't make it bad.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Sanshiro, comes to the big city of Tokyo for the first time, in order to continue his studies. He's quiet and shy and doesn't know much about life, but he soon discovers new people and ideas at university,
3.5/5 stars, rounded down

I read this book in college for a Japanese Literature course, and I remember really liking the first fifty pages. So, when I found it cheap in a used bookstore, I decided to revisit it. While I like the style and the multiple characters that flicker in-and-out of Sanshiro's otherwise mundane life, this book really is a hefty dose of "back-in-the-day" casual sexism. There are some passages where it's very clear almost none of the men take the women seriously. Sanshiro's
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this. It was in some ways a typical bildungsroman, but without a lot of the typical melodrama I've come to expect from them. The novel seemed to largely revolve around Sanshiro's relationship to women, and his eventual maturation and acceptance of his place in what he calls the 'third world' full of women. Mine had an introduction by Murakami that was truly awful.

Liked this quote as well:
“What startled him most of all was Tokyo itself, for no matter how far he went, it never
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Natsume Sōseki (夏目 漱石, February 9, 1867 – December 9, 1916), 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 ...more
“Desire is a frightening thing.” 23 likes
“You'd better watch out—life can be dangerous.” 13 likes
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