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Tokyo Ueno Station

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  946 ratings  ·  130 reviews
Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Emperor, Kazus life is tied by a series of coincidences to Japans Imperial family and to one particular spot in Tokyo; the park near Ueno Station the same place his unquiet spirit now haunts in death. It is here that Kazus life in Tokyo began, as a labourer in the run up to the 1964 Olympics, and later where he ended his ...more
Kindle Edition, 108 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Tilted Axis Press (first published March 19th 2014)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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Each time I read a novel translated from Japanese to English Im struck by its simple elegance. The best way I can describe it is a kind of stillness, no matter how much is going on in the story; a calming effect.

Tokyo Ueno Station is a very short, gentle, mournful book, following Kazu, a recently deceased homeless man whose spirit lingers in Ueno Park. Kazu reminisces on his life and the cruel twists of fate that first led him to sleep rough. That he is incorporeal has little impact on the
Paul Fulcher
Tokyo Ueno Station is the latest book from the wonderful Tilted Axis Press, translated by Morgan Giles from Yu Miri (柳 美里 / 유미리)'s 2014 novel JR上野駅公園口 and a powerful exploration of the other side of economic development and prestigious projects.

The novel begins with a lament part of which reads:

Left behind
Like a sculpted tree on the vacant land where a rotted house has been torn down.
Like the water in a vase from which wilted flowers have been removed.
Left behind.
But then what of me remains
Mar 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2020-read
To be poor means to be invisible: "Tokyo Ueno Station" tells the story of a laborer who had to work hard all of his life in order to support his family only to end up homeless in Ueno Park near the title-giving railway station. Our protagonist Kazu Mori was born into a poor family in Fukushima and when he himself gets married and has children, he has to spend most of his time away from them, trying to earn enough money in far-away towns. A family tragedy brutally confronts him with the fact that ...more
Alice Lippart
Like the setting and the historical aspects. Some parts of the story were really engaging but a lot of it was not.
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translations
This short novella on cultural memory narrated by a homeless man whose spirit lingers on in Ueno Park after his death was the first translated work where I was struck by the simple and fluid elegance of the language, something I had all but given up on based on the other translations of Japanese works I'd sampled so far.

"I used to think life was like a book: You turn the first page, and there's the next, and as you go on turning page after page, eventually you reach the last one. But life is
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up. Thoughts to follow.
Katie Lumsden
Maybe 3.5. I enjoyed this one - an intriguing, curious and sometimes confusing read. There were some really powerful moments, though it did take me a while to get into it.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was always lost at a point in the past that would never go anywhere now that it had gone, but has time ended? Has it just stopped? Will it someday rewind and start again? Or will I be shut out from time for eternity? I dont know, I dont know, I dont know.

This is a hauntingly beautiful, desperately elegiac, and quietly angry novel from Yu Miri. The pervading sense of melancholy and the stark lyricism of the prose makes her story of Kazu a sweeping study of a nation and its history. Here, Kazu -
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-japan
My first instinct after reading Yu Miris Tokyo Ueno Station is to ask why horribly random and tragic things happen to good people.
How does somebody become homeless, subject to the whims of weather, police always moving you around, or random violence?
Why do our loved ones die sudden, occasionally painful, deaths?
Why do the majority of people you encounter look at you but never really see you?
Our narrator experiences all of these things and more and yet to answer the fort part part of the
Books on Asia
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
Although one can tire of translated Japanese books that dwell in pathos, we welcomed this story because of its point of view: that of a homeless person. "Tokyo: Ueno Station" is the life story of Kazu, who after a life of hard work and living away from his wife and two children, becomes homeless at an advanced age and ends up living in Ueno Park in a tent city. He lives in a cardboard structure with a blue tarp on top that he is required to disassemble before important eventssuch as when the ...more
ngọc ♡

I'm heartbroken. Review to come once I'm less sad and able to gather my thoughts.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An account of personal tragedies and wider social problems. And more. Confidently translated by a new talent among Japanese-English translators, Morgan Giles.

The first-person protagonist in this work is a migrant worker in Tokyo who comes from Minami-Soma, north-east of Tokyo on the coast of Fukushima. This is some 85 km north of the area in Fukushima where I am now and have spent weeks every year since 1980, but it is a world apart, both before and after the 3/11 disaster of 2011.

The author
Paul Ataua
Kazu is a man reflecting on his life and wondering where and why it all went wrong with the twist that he is undertaking that reflection from beyond the grave as a ghost haunting Ueno park. Its no surprise that his life is a mirroring of Japan from the 30s until the present day. Tokyo Ueno Station has its moments with stretches of beautifully poetic writing, but also has stretches that you just have to push your way through. It is cruel to say, but despite the fact that it only comes in at just ...more
Nicky Neko
Not sure about this one... Elements of 4* and elements of 3*. Maybe I'll say 3.5?
I just really love the pink aesthetic!!! AAAAHHHHH AND THOSE CUTE ILLUSTRATIONS OMOOO
he never had any luck
Anna (DoesAnnaDreamOf)
An impactful short book that transforms ones vision of Tokyo. Bought recently while in Japan, I picked up this novel because of the title and chose it because of its synopsis. Miri Yu didnt deceive.
The language is fluid, almost poetic. Many social criticisms are in the subtext. But subtility gives a beautiful strength to this protagonists voice.
Duncan Vicat-Brown
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-goats
A social-realist screed that's somehow delivered via a gritty-but-comic domestic drama and an elegant hallucinatory ghost story at exactly the same time. Tears chunks out of you with gusto without ever turning into a misery memoir. Miri Yu can write like an absolute motherfucker.
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I finished this a few days ago and am still thinking about this one - a narrative whose beauty is in its bleak and haunting story, a reflection on life, an exploration of homelessness in Japan, and a sliding doors type musing on class and privilege. Theres so much in this small book that I have probably missed on an initial reading, so Ill have to make time to re-read in 2020!

Ive read brilliant review of this (definitely check out Marchpanss and on
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Tokyo Ueno Station is a story that centres around Kazu, the things he thinks, observes and listens, and the life that goes around him. Kazu appears to be a stoic man; this being reflected by how he responses to various things he encounters.

Whilst reading, I felt the story could be turned into a beautiful meditative piece of film. As a book, I didnt feel as engaged. I enjoyed reading parts when there is interaction between Kazu and other people especially his family but not so much on other
3.5 stars

Unrelentingly grim (there's a moment near the end where I rolled my eyes and threw my hands up as yet another disaster brought grief to our eternally woeful protagonist) and frequently rather artless, this is still a powerful, compact book that illuminates a lesser known side of the Japanese experience.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story of the ghost of a homeless person haunting a park in Tokyo should be more interesting than this. Instead, Tokyo Ueno Station is half misery-porn recounting the tragic life of the narrator, and half tangents on funeral rites, the history of Ueno park, overheard conversations about favorite snacks and dementia, describing paintings of roses, recounting the setup for an adult movie, and other asides. You can analyze these asides for themes and deeper meaning, if you want, but Yu Miri ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is simple, yet elegant and very sad.

We learn of Kazu, a homeless man who winds up in Tokyo's Ueno Park. We learn about his life, how he became homeless and the homeless people who live around Ueno Park. His flashbacks about his life are moving and well told.

As Kazu reminisces about his life, the reader also learns about some of Ueno's history and Japanese Buddhism.


Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has much to recommend it - the poetic prose, the sweeping historical but also minute topic, the reminder of our need for humanity. It also serves as a stark reminder that Japan, which works hard to make itself a delightful tourist location, is a society that has serious issues, just like all the rest. I especially appreciated the framing of this story with Hirohito and the two Olympics in Tokyo.
Rami Hamze
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Describing the present life and misery of a homeless person in Tokyo. A man who is in constant reflection on his past and the losses he had shed along the way.

Few good and touching sections like the one about the loss of his son, but all in all, it has weak plot, setting, and structure
Nose in a book (Kate)
This is an astonishing novella, packing so much insight and commentary and humanity into so few pages. And it taught me snippets of history as well. Im really not sure how Yu managed it.

The tale is narrated by Kazu, an old man who has spent the last few years homeless, living in Ueno Park in central Tokyo. He tells his life story, but not linearly. An overheard conversation will remind him of his son. A piece of rubbish will remind him of a friend who died. A rain storm will remind him of a
Sarah Lloyd
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First time Ive read a novel by Yu Miri. Now should I challenge myself to read the rest in Japanese, or should I just wait for Morgan to translate them...? (Definitely the latter) ...more
J $
A quiet novel about a life unseen, brought to light and made grand by Yū's endless eye for detail and history. Admittedly, some readers might find the minutiae of Kazu's life exhausting, but within that banality is a genuine and painful tragedy of existence and economic strife.
Courtney Dux
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book after walking through Ueno Park. It was really intriguing to learn more about the park and those who live in there. My heart actually felt so sad and burdened by this book though. It is a story that is so elegantly written and simple.
The translation captured the feel of Japanese syntax as much as that's possible. I appreciated the translation as much as the affecting narrative.
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Yu Miri is a Zainichi Korean playwright, novelist, and essayist. Yu writes in Japanese, her native language, but is a citizen of South Korea.

Yu was born in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, to Korean parents. After dropping out of the Kanagawa Kyoritsu Gakuen high school, she joined the Tokyo Kid Brothers (東京キッドブラザース) theater troupe and worked as an actress and assistant director. In 1986, she

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