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Seven Japanese Tales

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,383 ratings  ·  102 reviews
In these seven stories, the author of The Makioka Sisters explores the territory where love becomes self-annihilation, where the contemplation of beauty gives way to fetishism, and where tradition becomes an instrument of refined cruelty.
Paperback, 298 pages
Published October 1st 1996 by Vintage (first published 1963)
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Mishanya111 Where are the tons of Asian, Afican and unfamous European literature still hiding?

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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,383 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Emma Sea
Sep 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Steelwhisper
Shelves: i-own-it, paperback
Great book, beautiful writing, deceptive in its simplicity. Quite inspiring.

Read for my 2016 reading challenge: #6. A book translated to English (or from English into your first language)

Thank you Steelwhisper for the rec.
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, modernism
I purchased this book in a bookstore off Piccadilly Circus waiting to meet someone. After hours of conversation, we separated, taking our respective tunnels to catch our trains. Every time I see this book, I remember that goodbye. Funny, the things that serve as fluttering markers to our memories.

I'm reading these out of order to the book layout because I wanted to see the chronological progression in themes and style relating it back to history. These notes are likely not particularly useful fo
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meus
This volume collects 7 short stories written between 1910 and 1959. All but one (the one I liked the most) are about some sort of unhealthy relationship or character. I don’t know if this is a characteristic of the writing of Junichiro Tanizaki, or if it was just a coincidence that the short stories collected in this book had this in common. As a whole, I liked the writing better than the stories themselves:

A Portrait of Shunkin (1933) - 2*
The first short story almost drove me mad, I just fe
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Tanizaki is a fascinating writer with respect how he sees himself in Japanese culture. He was part of the 1920's Tokyo gang that was obsessed with the West that was very fashionable among the literary and young set at the time. But when the big earthquake hit Tokyo in the early 20's, he became torn between the bright lights of the West and hardcore Japanese tradition. And basically all his books deal with this unusual relationship between the West and the East.

And we're not really talking about
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Mar 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Part of the reason why Japanese literature so fascinates me is its individualistic sensibilities. The simplicity of their prose is a known trait now, but what works for me are the themes and literary concerns. If Murakami penetrates the psyche and turns the survey of dreams into a tiny little adventure, Tanizaki on the other hand takes dreams and the buried pathology of daily life at face value. In these stories he comes across as a very direct and clear voice. No trace of Kawabatian subtlety ar ...more
You fuckers ever stayed up late watching weird Japanese horror movies you found at Blockbuster as a teenager? Can you remember the first time you saw really intense Japanese porn, not necessarily the kind with tentacles but where there's something just... wrong? If Tanizaki is any indicator, turns out shit has been weird for a long time. Incest, bondage, fetishism, they've all been there, it's just that now we have the Internet. And it's not that Tanizaki's stories are just weird or kinky or wha ...more
Widyanto Gunadi
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exploring love at its core, as well as its numerous manifestations in hatred, lust (for power), and domineeringly controlling unhealthy affection, this compilation book of short fictions has it all. A celestial sense of individuality permeates every narrative anthologized in this collection written by Tanizaki. Notwithstanding its simple language and storytelling stylistic choice, each tale has a deep philosophical nature which can be interpreted differently with every reader. Traces of the auth ...more
It was really good, the stories were haunting and somewhat tragic, and some of the stories depressed me. The Blind Man's Tale, in my opinion is very beautiful, and very sad. While the Bridge of Dreams disturbed me deeply (the story was twisted and worried me to no end). There is also quite a variance in the settings to, half appearing to be set somewhere in the 1920 period and others set in the Meiji, or sometime in the Feudal eras. It was very culturally enlightening too, it's kind of hard to e ...more
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: قائمة-2018
مقطع من قصة الواشم أو الوشم ):

[في صباح مشرق من بداية فصل الربيع، كانت القوارب تجري في النهر صعودًا وهبوطًا، وتحدث مجاديفها صخباً في ذلك الصباح الهادئ، بينما كانت أسطح القرميد تلمع في الشمس والضباب بدأ ينخفض رقيقًا فوق الأشرعة البيضاء، في لحظات النسيم الباكر.
وأخيرًا، وضع سيكيشي فرشاته ونظر إلى وشم العنكبوت. كان هذا النوع من الفن أرقى جهدًا في حياته. والآن بعد أن إنتهى منه، صار قلبه منهك المشاعر. وبعد قليل، تردد صوت سيكيتش مرتعشاً عبر جدران الغرفة:
" لأجعلك جميلةً حقاً، صببت روحي في هذا الوشم. وا
Apr 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Japanese culture, when compared to what's generally passed off as Western culture, seems to be a little off. That's not a value judgement, but an observation that compared to what Western Canon readers are used to, there's more dissonance, and a willingness to examine topics which (at least in the time Tanizaki was writing) were either not covered in polite society, or were swept under the rug in bowdlerised editions.

It's not the case here. Incest and fetishes, and the annihilation of the self
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan
Certainly a nice variation of stories to get a grasp on whether or not you're a fan of Tanizaki, as each story has very different things on offer. His appreciation of the West at the time really shines through in a couple of his works, which may make it a more familiar read for those unacquainted with Japanese works in general.

Tanizaki seems to be thoroughly renown for the prominence of sexual perversion in his works. Don't let this put you off because of your predisposed beliefs and the whatnot
Edward Rathke
Sep 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love this collection even though I didn't give it five stars. Some of the stories are stronger than others, which holds it back from reaching the kind of perfection other stories hint at.

It's a collection about what it means to be Japanese, which may be a turn off for many. It's very accessible, I thought. Stories about creation and destruction, about art and life, about love and Death.

These are stories about life, told with great seriousness but also great humor.

This was my first look into
Bezimena knjizevna zadruga
Bez ikakvih metaforičnih značenja, bez i malo kitnjastosti i ulepšavanja svojstvene ogromnoj većini pisaca, konkretne, gotovo bezobrazno jednostavne i razumljive rečenice, grade svaku od sedam prelepih priča ove zbirke. Staloženost ritma pisanja jednako prisutna bilo da pripoveda najobičnije dane u životu svojih junaka, bilo da se bavi različitim osetljivim temama. Savršena mirnoća u pisanju me očarala.

Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sonia (I did recommend it; a long time ago.)
I'm a huge fan of these short stories. You can go back and re-think about them over and over. The alarming fixations of his characters - some neuorotic, some manipulative - keep you riveted, even while you're appalled. Excruciating studies of the dark and confusing sides of humanity.

If you've not read Tanizaki before, I'd suggest not beginning with the novella that is included in this volume. Take on the masterful, shorter stories first, like "The Tatooer." Once you've got the hang of Tanizaki,
1. A Portrait of Shunkin: 4 stars
My thoughts:
- Complexity of people and relationships
- Who are we to contemplate whether a relationship is healthy
- Boundary of consensual and obsession blurred
- Yet the 2 members involved are ok so is it right or not?
- Questions where obsession crosses the boundary
- Yet is it wrong??????
- Also, is Sasuke insane, obsessed, devoted, in love, or a saint?
- Is Shunkin cruel, sadistic, cold, harsh, misunderstood, narcissistic, or angry?
- Maybe these are questions that
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it

“The cold winter rains and the snow
Only fall now and then—
But because of you, my tears
Are falling constantly.”

“Even though you love,
Do not let your love be known.
But do not forget
While you pretend you do not love.”


Ever since I read Tanizaki’s beautiful novel, “Naomi,” a novel he wrote when he was 39, I’ve been hooked to his bizarre brand of Japanese beauty. Tanizaki is considered by many as one of Japan’s most popular novelists, winning Japan’s Imperial Prize in 1949.

This collectio
Boysie Freeman (not my real name, it's just my Internet name)
Tanizaki wrote about controversial and taboo subject matters (sadism, masochism, incest...) like a boss. The characters here - mostly are crazy, losing their friggin' mind but you can totally relate to them. At some points the story get sick and creepy but the prose itself is marble-like perfection and really haunting.

My personal favourite are A Portrait of Shunkin and The Tattooer. Strange but believable and powerful. Anyway, the name Sasuke seems to mean "emo" in Japanese. Just kidding.

Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
At first I was struck by the firm nobility-fetishizing bend to these stories, but upon finishing the book and reading more I'm realizing that some stories may have been using that voice ironically to call out the tragedy of rigid social order. Still not sure about that, but the writing is great and the sexual pathology is arrestingly incestuous and footy.
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aasia
A great book. Tales that all tell of an aspect of human nature.
I like the way Tanizaki writes, the flow of the words, the pattern of speech.

I had higher hopes for The Tattooer but The Blind Man's Tale was better than I hoped.
A sad story of a womans fate by the unseeing eyes of her servant. In the era of wars women
were little more than beautiful prizes.
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
one of my 15 choices for literary masterpieces for sff lovers; the essence of the author
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grown-up-stuff
LOVE Tanizaki. For the American reader: this will be a different style of storytelling for you. Beautiful and a bit bizarre.
Favorite stories; A Portrait of Shunkin, The Bridge of Dreams and A Blind Man's Tale.
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bottom Line First
Junichirô Tanizaki’s Seven Japanese Tales are a collection of works from 1910 to 1953. They range in length from a few pages to near novella length. A common theme is the friction and conflicts between older Japanese traditions and the influence of modern sensibilities. His writing ranges from the matter of fact to the evocative. Tanizaki has a taste for the erotic. Where it appears in this collection is in a horrific story the Tattooer. In only ten pages we are exposed to the J
Cris N.
I read three of the stories in "Seven Japanese Tales" and three other stories written by Tanizaki published in anthologies. What I'm going to write here is about those six stories, so this is more of a general review of Tanizaki's stories and style rather than of just this book "Seven Japanese Tales." Junichiro Tanizaki is considered a classic in Japanese literature, but I'm not sure what the fuss is about, to be frank.

"The Thief" is a story about a university student who is a thief and is bein
Vel Veeter
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cbr-9
This is my second book by Junichiro Tanizaki. I think I mostly liked the previous novel Some Prefer Nettles better because of the more cohesive story. I think that short story collections are already a push for me and story collections that are retrospective rather than connected by time or theme especially. That said, I did enjoy the stories in this collection. The long stories (which range from 60 to 95 pages) play upon more historical themes and more historical narratives adopting the voice o ...more
Mar 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
creo que mi impresión final del libro estuvo bastante afectada por "un cuento de ciego", que fue el último, el más largo, y el más lento de toda la colección. por otra parte, los que más me gustaron fueron "terror" "el tatuador" y "el puente de los sueños", creo que más que nada por lo raros que acabaron siendo, pero siento que en especial "el puente de los sueños" y "la historia de shunkin" me hubieran afectado más si los hubiera leído cuando fueron originalmente publicados en español en 1968, ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I must confess that I'm not too familiar with a bit older Japanese literature. I have mainly read modern Murakami and all of his novels I have liked a lot. This was a completely different reading experience.

Tanizaki is a recognized and valued author so most likely my evaluation is not literally valid. But I didn't like these short stories too much. Better knowledge on Japanese culture would perhaps have helped a little bit. Perhaps not.

These stories were somehow "slow" in a manner I didn't find
Carolina Botero
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cuando compre el libro me imaginé que su contenido era muy diferente a lo que encontré. Al leer los diferentes cuentos, uno a uno, entendí el contexto y la época en el que fue escrito.

Es simple y sencillo, pero siento que las diferencias culturales no me dejaron entenderlo en su totalidad.

No es de mi favoritos. No lo recomendaría, pero hay que leer de todo un poco para saber que te gusta y que no!
Roberto Ojeda
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Una grata sorpresa, bellísimo, siete cuentos que entre si son muy diferentes, pero mantiene el estilo de llevarte rápidamente al centro de la historia y te deja el suspenso de estar esperando cómo se resuelve. Ninguno de alguna forma tradicional, ni siquiera esperada, por lo que cada cuento no es muy difícil de no leerlo de corrido.

Buena experiencia para acercarse al trabajo de Tanizaki!!
Nicté Reyes
Me llamó la atención que varios personajes de estos cuentos son ciegos y con esta condición les confiere una especie de atributo o virtud, igual que Proust, hace énfasis en detalles muy particulares de los recuerdos de la infancia (dato curioso: ambos son Cáncer), creo que los 7 cuentos tienen como personaje central a una mujer, siempre descrita con fervor y erotismo.
Aunque sólo me gustaron 2 de estos cuentos, me gustaron mucho, así que le daré otra oportunidad a Tanizaki
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Jun'ichiro Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎) was a Japanese author, and one of the major writers of modern Japanese literature, perhaps the most popular Japanese novelist after Natsume Sōseki.

Some of his works present a rather shocking world of sexuality and destructive erotic obsessions; others, less sensational, subtly portray the dynamics of family life in the context of the rapid changes in 20th-century Japa
“Western clothes were intended for healthy, robust men: to anyone in a weakened condition they were quite insupportable. Around the waist, over the shoulders, under the arms, around the neck - every part of the body was pressed and squeezed by clasps and buttons and rubber and leather, layer over layer, as if you were strapped to a cross. And of course you had to put on stockings before the shoes, stretching them carefully up on your legs by garters. Then you put on a shirt, and then trousers, cinching them in with a buckle and the back till they cut your waist and hanging them from your shoulders with suspenders. Your neck was choked in a close-fitting collar, over which you fastened a noose-like necktie, and stuck a pin in it. If a man is well filled out, the tighter you squeeze him, the more vigorous and bursting with vitality he seems; but a man who is only skin and bones can't stand that. [...] It was only because these Western clothes held him together that he was able to keep on walking at all - but to think of stiffening a limp, helpless body, shackling it hand and foot, and driving it ahead with shouts of "Keep going! Don't you dare collapse!" It was enough to make a man want to cry...” 2 likes
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