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Sweet Bean Paste

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  11,052 ratings  ·  1,908 reviews
Sentaro has failed. He has a criminal record, drinks too much, and his dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste.

But everything is about to change.

Into his life comes Tokue, an
Paperback, 216 pages
Published October 5th 2017 by Oneworld Publications (first published February 6th 2013)
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Popular Answered Questions
ASP Hi, I see your question is 10 month old so probably you don't need my answer anymore, but still: I am reading it in French, I don't know if this can h…moreHi, I see your question is 10 month old so probably you don't need my answer anymore, but still: I am reading it in French, I don't know if this can help...
And after a short research I have seen that the English version will be out in November this year, with the title "Sweet bean paste".
But I cannot tell you how all these english and american readers managed to read it...(less)

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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  11,052 ratings  ·  1,908 reviews

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Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
See the full review and how I made dorayaki @

The story begins with Sentaro, a man who was previously in jail and is now working in a little confectionary shop to pay off some debt. He makes a Japanese sweet called ‘dorayaki’ every day but puts no heart into it at all. He works in a depressed part of town and feels quite depressed himself. He doesn’t have much appreciation for life while spending most evenings drowning his sorrows with alcohol. He’s always
Elyse  Walters
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Priceless! Moving!

If I had ‘the power’.....I’d call “Sweet Bean Paste” a classic Japanese novel.

The blurb says telling what this book is ‘about’ for readers. ITS THE EXPERIENCE THAT WILL STAY WITH YOU .......A MUST READ! Too good to skip!

Special friendships...sweet confections...( the best sweet bean paste is infused with love)...

Author Durian Sukegawa had a friend many years ago whose child died of Hansen’s disease at age 2. He also learned about a former Hansen‘s patients, who,
Diane S ☔
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Most of the books I have read by Japanese authors seem to contain little emotion in their writing. It is the situations themselves that evoke feeling in the reader as the story is told in a very matter of fact fashion. We are introduced to a young man named Sentaro, he has spent time in prison, feels like he is a failure in life. He runs a Dorayaki shop, selling these confections filled with sweet bean paste. He goes from home to work and back again. This is his life, and he is lonely. He advert ...more
Rating 4.5 but still thinking about it.
A wonderful heartwarming and heartbreaking story wrapped into the cutest little book. A small book with baby blue and pink on the cover is just charming. And it has all that charm on the inside too. I read this one slowly as I wanted to savor every minute of it. Perhaps that's how people felt eating the dorayaki with sweet bean paste in this one (it's a pancake).

Such a small story with such a big punch. You learn of three people who come together in the mo
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Short and sweet; a quick read with the type of sentimentality, calm, and wholesomeness you'd expect from a Japanese drama, but it didn't grab me the way the author intended. I think it's interesting that the author wants to reject the notion that your value is measured by how useful you are to society, and redefine your life's purpose based on your own individual circumstances instead. This is a message I’d normally resonate with, but I think the fact that he funneled all of that through a tragi ...more
A fun fact about me is that I'm the worst.

I am anti-smile, anti-joy, anti-positivity. The end part of the nightly news where they try to tell a nice story rarely gets more than a "wow late-stage capitalism is depressing" from me. I never watch animal videos on the internet and in fact hate movies about animals whether they talk or not. I cannot watch children's content because it's too sweet.

And stories like this one don't really work for me.

I go back and forth on Fredrik Backman's work for the
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful warm heartfelt story of an unconventional friendship. A book that teaches us the lessons in patience and listening really listening, to people but also nature around us and the importance of not making assumptions from first impressions. How the act of friendship can transform and change someone's viewpoint of life. How food can be used as a balm to soothe our souls and bring people from opposite ends of life together. How cooking can have healing qualities that can mend sorrow and h ...more
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
5 Reasons To Read This Book! Full review found on my blog.

Reason #1: It's So Heartwarming

This is everything you might have wanted for an evening when you're feeling a little sad. It's written in a really nice, easy to read and cheerful tone. Ultimately, the main characters inspire you, no matter who they are – the old lady who had to deal with life-long isolation or the deadbeat who starts making it back to life. They are all relatable and you end up loving them.

Reason #2: Important Topics
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In case you haven't noticed, I've been reading only Japanese and Korean short literature all this weekend, and so far this has by far been my favourite. I went in not knowing anything about the story, but came away quietly weeping. It was beautifully touching and heart warming.

Sentaro spends his days making doriyaki as the only employee of a confectionery shop. He dislikes sweet treats however, and has no passion for the craft, or in life in general. As a former convict he feels trapped at the s
Dec 15, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a solid 3 stars. In the middle to the end it dragged a bit. Still, it is something I would definitely recommend. Before reading it, I did not know anything about the disease of leprosy. One of the two major protagonists of this short novel (213 pages, softcover), Tokue, lived in a former leper colony. Actually, it was a leper colony until 1996 when the Leprosy Protection Act was repealed in Japan. Before that, leprosy patients in Japan were forcibly isolated in sanatoriums, despite growi ...more
Sam Quixote
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Sentaro is an ex-con working off a debt in a dorayaki shop (dorayaki is Japanese confectionery where two pancakes sandwich sweet Azuki red bean paste). But business is slow. One day a mysterious elderly woman called Tokue appears with her own recipe for dorayaki - and suddenly business is booming! But who is Tokue really and why are her hands so gnarled…

Durian Sukegawa’s novel Sweet Bean Paste wasn’t bad. The premise is kinda fluffy and the cover reinforces that impression so I was expecting a
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a lovely little story about what gives life meaning, but it reads as heartfelt instead of didactic or cheesy. It stems from the author's experience of the Japanese sensibility that meaning comes from contributing to society, and wanting to explore other understandings of the meaning of life. The narrative manages to start with a focus on dorayaki (pancakes with sweet bean paste) and shift to a focus on leprosy communes, but it works. Only a few characters, with time to develop meaningful ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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I went into this with no expectations. I'd seen people raving about this Japanese novella but didn't really know what it was about. The hero of this book is a man named Sentaro, who is an ex-con and an aspiring writer, who works as a cook making crepes filled with sweet bean paste. He leads a jaded, monotonous existence, in debt to his employers, so when an old woman with deformed hands comes to him one day begging for work, he isn't qui
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Apr 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I try to live a blameless life, but am crushed at times by people's lack of understanding."

This book is such a heartwarming, good read for a rainy day like today!

I am not a good cook nor do I fuss a lot about food but reading this book makes me feel like I could feel the taste of the confectionery the story talks about from the very beginning of the book till towards the end of the book.
This book will remain as one of the most memorable reads for me.
The writing style is simple yet captivating
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
All experience adds up to a life lived as only you could.

Sweat Bean Paste is: cute, simple, whimsical, and above all, very sweet.
Sweat Bean Paste is not: poignant, poetic, or sensual (excluding taste).

I think the quirky elderly person mysteriously entering your life and bringing enlightenment trope is a bit done right now. Call me cynical, but when is the movie being made? Suspiciously cinematic. (Never mind me Banana Durian, you make that money).

Too much exposition. The letters sent between th
Alice Lippart
Loved it.
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
May 1st. Labor Day and a public holiday. The rain came in torrents. I was content to be indoors and to snuggle up with a new book that had a tantalizing title - Sweet Bean Paste. It had the effect of suggesting that a bowl of steaming red bean soup would be cheery on a rainy day. It was in this mood that I was introduced to a Japanese pancake called dorayaki and the culinary secret to making the perfect filling for it.

The dorayaki consists of two small pancake-like patties wrapped around a filli
/ / / Read more reviews on my blog / / /

“It's my belief that everything in this world has its own language. We have the ability to open up our ears and minds to anything and everything. That could be someone walking down the street, or it could be the sunshine or the wind.”

Durian Sukegawa's Sweet Bean Paste is a gentle and life-affirming novel (novella?). The book's central figures are discriminated against because of their pasts: Sentaro is a middle aged man who works at a dorayaki shop has a
this was such a lovely book. so quiet and soft, and yet so impactful! the way it portrays loneliness and found family was a punch to my heart. (4.43)
Mar 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese-lit, fiction
3.5 stars

I began to understand that we were born in order to see and listen to the world. And that’s all this world wants of us. It doesn’t matter that I was never a teacher or a member of the workforce, my life had meaning.

I should have known going into this book that it would make me a) really hungry, and b) really sad. For 3 or 4 years I had stopped reading Japanese literature as I found myself turning to YA books more than to any other genre. Lately, though, I felt the urge to pick up an
Katie Lumsden
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A completely delightful, moving and beautiful read. I loved the writing, the characters, and the subtle exploration of life and what it means to live. I would highly recommend this one.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese, 2010s, reviewed
I'm going to start by saying that I hate giving books 3 stars. Several people I talk to assume that means it is completely worth skipping or in some cases even that I didn’t like the book. That is not the case. 3 stars is perfectly satisfactory, and in some cases I would even highly suggest a book I gave 3 stars (depending on the person's tastes).

I say that because this is a good book, bordering on an excellent one. For some people it will be an exceptional read that will speak to them clearly.
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Sweet and heartwarming story that reminds me to value humble acts of humanity. I’m gonna start paying more attention to the people in the corners of life, those who make our world a sweeter and easier place to live in, but getting little recognition for it. How magically appropriate is it that I was reading this book while struggling to find a good job after graduation!? The concern of wanting to be a useful member of society, contributing to society, is at the centre of this book and my current ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sweet Bean Paste is a modest and unassuming short novel that is so full of empathy one can't help but love it. Very quiet, slow-moving, almost meditative, and told in direct straightforward prose, it is beautiful and sad but not overly sentimental. A very touching reflection on loneliness and finding meaning in unexpected ways. This book's key message is one that will stay with me. ...more
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it

This book was SO MUCH MORE than I thought it was going to be. This is so much more than a story about a chef whose struggling and a little old woman who comes to help him. This actually opened my eyes to a very disturbing side of Japanese history and I’m glad for it but also very sad.

Do not recommend reading at work with 10+ coworkers around because you will cry.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
Sentaro feels like such a failure. He’s working in a little confectionary shop when all he wants to do is become a writer. He drinks too much and the shadow of his time in prison hangs over him. He spends his days making mediocre dorayaki, a sweet composed of two little pancakes filled with sweet bean paste. One day he has a visit from an elderly woman, Tokue, who wants to work for him. When he tastes her dorayaki, he knows he must learn her sweet bean paste secrets. Their friendship grows until ...more
lark benobi
Author Sukegawa begins with a social issue and works backward, choosing a story to fit the theme, rather than allowing the theme to grow from story. Normally this approach would result in a novel with all the taste of a middling Lifetime movie. But what happens here instead is a beautiful paean to the virtues of patience, of forgiveness, and of friendship against all odds. The story itself is simple, and the writing is simple, but within the simplicity there is so much written here about the Jap ...more
Nov 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
A Wonderful Story

An elderly Japanese woman sees a “help wanted” sign at a café that specializes in making sweet bean paste filled pancakes, but the man running the café believes her to be too old, and furthermore, her fingers are gnarled, which could repulse the customers. He refuses her request, but she doesn’t give up. Then he finally gives in to her, and she makes the most delicious homemade sweet bean paste, and he is sold on her as are the customers. He had been using canned sweet bean past
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

Sentaro has failed. He has a criminal record, drinks too much, and his dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. He spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste. But everything is about to change. Into his life comes Tokue, an elderly woman with disfigured hands and a troubled past. Tokue makes the best sweet bean paste and begins to teach him her craft, but as their fr
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sweet Bean Paste [2013/2017] – ★★★★★

"The aroma seemed to leap up at him, as if it were alive, racing through his nose to the back of his head. Unlike the ready-made paste, this was the smell of fresh, living beans. It had depth. It had life. A mellow, sweet taste unfurled inside Sentaro’s mouth" [Sukegawa/Watts, 2013: 33].

This book, translated from Japanese by Alison Watts (see also the movie trailer here), tells a story of Sentaro, a middle aged man who spends his time unenthusiastically selli
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TW Book Club: Our February Pick 3 20 Feb 06, 2020 11:57PM  
Japanese Literature: 8/18 Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa 42 80 Aug 31, 2018 03:56AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Could you please combine those books? 3 21 Jul 11, 2018 06:51AM  

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Durian Sukegawa studied oriental philosophy at Waseda University, before going on to work as a reporter in Berlin and Cambodia in the early 1990s. He has written a number of books and essays, TV programmes and films. He lives in Tokyo.

Source: Oneworld Publications

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