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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  23,851 ratings  ·  2,265 reviews
Hailed by The New Yorker as "rich in understanding and insight," Kokoro — "the heart of things" — is the work of one of Japan's most popular authors. This thought-provoking trilogy of stories explores the very essence of loneliness and stands as a stirring introduction to modern Japanese literature. ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published July 1st 1996 by Gateway Editions (first published 1914)
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Gary Hinton I haven't read this yet but I can say for certain that this could casually be related. There will never be another Holden Caulfield or a book that is …moreI haven't read this yet but I can say for certain that this could casually be related. There will never be another Holden Caulfield or a book that is outright lying to you from start to finish. The lies is what makes Catcher so timeless to me. If this book is in fact about a character that is trying to impress you (the reader) then I guess it is like Catcher!

Regardless, I can't wait to read this!(less)
Richard Hearn did write a book titled Kokoro. It was written in 1895 while Natsume’s Kokoro was written in 1914. Hearn’s was a collection of brief essays of h…moreHearn did write a book titled Kokoro. It was written in 1895 while Natsume’s Kokoro was written in 1914. Hearn’s was a collection of brief essays of his observations of Japanese culture, life. It was concerned with the ‘interior’ rather than the ‘exterior’ aspects of Japan. Hearn did not speak, let alone write, Japanese fluently enough to translate any books from Japanese to English. He died in 1904. (less)

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Average rating 4.05  · 
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 ·  23,851 ratings  ·  2,265 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
The main character is a young man, a college student, who meets an older man at a beach resort. Over time he develops a strong admiration for him, visiting at his home and calling him Sensei. The interesting thing about the “wise” old man is that he does nothing. He seems to be a scholar but doesn’t read or write, he just “hangs out.”


Sensei has no real friends other than the young man. His only activity is making a monthly visit a grave at a local cemetery. Who that deceased person is becomes t
A languid, melancholic dream of a novel which pierces the heart of the reader with its quiet intensity.

Cautious in its narrative tread on the ground of contentious issues, delicate in its broaching of subjects like the indignity of death, sin and redemption, existentialist ennui, self-recrimination and misanthropy, 'Kokoro' is a masterful recounting of a tragedy which unfolds against the backdrop of the dying years of the Meiji era. As Emperor Meiji breathes his last taking along with him the an
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A few years ago I had arranged to meet up with a girl I was loosely dating. I liked her a lot, but as she is a DJ, who works late nights, seeing each other was not easy. I had agreed to go to the club she was playing at that night and wait for her to finish, which would be something like 3am. As I didn’t want to spend the entire night stood at the side of the DJ booth waiting for her I asked my brother if he wanted to join me. I explained why I wanted to go out, I assured him that I would be fre ...more
Federico DN
Aug 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Sometimes you feel the desire to know the all-time greatest different nationalities have created through history. In this case, a japanese classic.

This novel is divided into three parts of a same story, taking place during the Meiji reign, around the 1800s. The laborious life of an university student trying to graduate; his relationship with his countryside family and a delicately tragic situation with his father; and, lastly, his friendship with "Sensei", a kind of extremely well educated mento
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
"You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egotistical selves."

The quote above sums up perfectly the main theme of this classic Japanese novel. The other one is guilt.

"There is no such thing as a stereotype bad man in this world. Under normal conditions, everybody is more or less good, or, at least, ordinary. But tempt them, and they may suddenly change. That is what is so frightening about men. One must alwa
I aspire to compose a review. This book richly deserves it.

***UPDATE: Three years later and no review, but my failing is now solved.
I highly recommend that you read my friend, Alex's, review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

The key to Kokoro is knowing yourself as a reader and whether its charms are ones you'll appreciate or reject. Alex provides you the info you need to decide whether Kokoro and you will be a satisfying match.
Elyse  Walters
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful classic Japanese story.....
This is a quiet introspective book that was first published in 1996.
They say great books are timeless - and it’s certainly true with “Kokoro”....( which means *Heart* in Japanese).
I paid $1.19 for the Kindle download....and I kid you not...this thin book ( 248 paperback pages), was very hard to pull away from.
Was it moving? Powerful? Thought- Provoking? emotional? I’m pulling at straws trying to see if it’s possible if can covey one word that best describe
The Artisan Geek
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------

I did a full video review on this book, including some background information on Natsume and the cultural and historical context of the book.

Read this for my diverse classics book club. Really enjoyed it!

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Kokoro” is about a respectable man’s account of his life before he makes a great decision. An unusual book which I really enjoyed, and I would recommend it to readers who do not mind their stories sprinkled with an air of sadness throughout.

You certainly don't need to know anything about Japan or Japanese culture to appreciate, and get something profound from this work. Like so many great works of fiction, it appeals to the human in everyone, and asks those questions every human struggles with
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
"I believe you don't really become a finer person just by reading lots of books"

I know a lot of Westerners are obsessed with the East and our civilization, finding its mysterious inconclusiveness attractive in opposition to the somewhat dogmatic West. Nonetheless, it is one thing to be an outside admirer and another thing to have that blood in your vein. Kokoro is a novel of frustration, fragility, distrust, terror, and hopelessness of the blood the East has in it vein, a reflection on the super
Mar 02, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A slow read on missed chances, morality and what it means to be a good person. Despite the short chapters I didn't find this an easy nor an enjoyable read. The characters are all very much self-centered, overly reflective and kind of whiny in my view
Floundering in indecision, I finally put off the question of what to do until the next day

I once quoted a tweet by Jada Pinkett Smith that said:
Have the courage to say what you need in the moment. Most people aren’t mind readers.

Two things will happe
Michael Finocchiaro
I have mentioned elsewhere that the later Soseki books tend to be darker and more melancholic not to say extremely pessimistic and Kokoro definitely fits this mold. I am NOT taking anything away from the gorgeous language and descriptions here nor the intimate conversations primarily by writing between the protagonist and his Sensei, but it is not something to read if you are down in the dumps. The narrative devices are original even for Soseki and his mastery of character and betrayal of emotio ...more
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: wimps
Shelves: japan, 2018
It's not that you've done something wrong! It's that you haven't done anything. The critical moment in this book will seem so familiar to you: you've not done something like it hundreds of times, or realized you were in danger of not doing it. A conversation must be had. You gotta break up with someone, or tell them you're in love with them. It's scary. You don't do it. These moments don't usually become crucial turning points in your life. You just move on, maybe a few degrees less happy than y ...more
E. G.
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About the Title
Suggestions for Further Reading


Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2020-read
This Japanese classic by literary superhero Natsume Soseki is not easy to access for a Westerner of the 21st century, as it subtly deals with perceptions of silence, guilt and loyalty that are deeply connected to Japanese culture. The novel has three parts: The first two are presented through the perspective of a young student who is adrift in his life and looking for direction which he hopes to receive from an older man whom he calls Sensei. The narrator is in a state of transition: He moved to ...more
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Tedious. Dripping with pathos. Overburdened with details. Self-scrutinizing to a fault. Started well enough, then tied itself up into a knot ball and began rolling downhill, never to stop.

I love introspective novels, usually. The writing in this case remained delicious and kept me going, but by the end I cared about no one in this book. Not a single soul.

For tales of old-school Japan, give me Tanizaki, Kawabata, Yoshikawa or Mishima over this, any day.
Aug 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a quietly beautiful book this is. I had a great time reading this although, without getting into spoilers, the ending extremely depressed me. But it's beautifully depressing and treats heavy subjects like regret, depression and suicide with great care and empathy. The main character is a university student who befriends and old man whom he calls Sensei. Sensei is a introverted, sad and lonely man who is reluctant to get close to anyone. Although he's happily married, a shadow of looming sad ...more
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: when it dies
Recommended to Mariel by: when it lives
Kokoro translates to "the heart of things". I only know this because the translator's forward said it was so. I need a translator, from my heart's mind to yours (anyone?)... I am afraid that I will wander around in the dark mental spaces again. Gray shades of life experiences and emotional (not necessarily reality) experiences. Who could pick up on the undertones and relevances? I'm truly afraid that worse than making no sense, I'll be sitting at the feet (Muppet babies feet? Peanuts gang feet? ...more
Apr 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japanese
I have been doing a bit more research into Japanese culture. Slowly, bit by bit, I am finding that my appreciation for the works that I read is increasing as well. Kokoro is perhaps Soseki’s best-known novel. The idle pace at which I felt it moved at times drove me to look deeper into why I am drawn to Japanese literature. Here is what I came up with:

I was raised in Canada, but my Persian background meant that I had access to the collectivistic way of thinking native to the region. Persian cultu
Kokoro is the title of this Japanese classic published in 1914 by Natsume Soseki. It is also a Japanese word meaning “the heart of a thing”, or in other words the essence or the core of whatever it is one is talking about, maybe a person or perhaps a concept. It is good to keep this in mind as you read the book. If the word intrigues you, I think you will also like the book. The book leads you on a search for understanding of the central character.

The story spreads over several years, starting
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pub-1914
My book club buddy made us all read it because he was dating a Japanese girl and wanted to learn more about her culture (I hope one day someone reads Prus for me, that would be real love). Anyway, they've been married for a while now, so that should give you an idea how behind I am with my reviews.

After all the melodrama of the Western literature, reading Kokoro was a refreshing experience of emotional restraint. It's an absolute classic, written in 1914, the end of Meiji era when Japan was goi
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with many 'classic' Japanese novels, 'Kokoro' is a rumination on changing mores. Japan went through many culture shaking changes between the time in 1853 that U.S. Navy Commander and erstwhile 'diplomat' threatened Tokyo with bombardment if Japan did not enter into diplomatic discussions and the post-WWII period.

I found this book to be both fascinating and frustrating as it carries the reader over various times of change. Indeed, I often found myself to be quite upset at the characters as th
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ns, にほん
"How can I escape,except through faith,madness or death?"

Kokoro is an epic melodrama of isolation and self-inflicted guilt. A beautiful heartfelt experience from the exploring friendship between a young graduate student and his mentor(Sensei).Soseki brilliantly unveils an intricate web of egoism,guilt,temptations and loneliness through various anecdotes on Sensei's reclusive living. No wonder Soseki succeeded Lafacdio Hearn as a lecturer in English Literature in the Imperial University(1903).
Jan 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
“My morality is probably very different from that of young people today. But different though it may be, it is my own. It is not some rented clothing I have borrowed to suit the moment. This is why I believe it will be of some use to you, a young man just starting out in life.”

After leaving his family home in the countryside to attend university in the bustling city of Tokyo, the young narrator of this novel is lonely and uninspired until he encounters an older gentleman whom he refers to as ‘Se
Feb 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this for university and did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did. There are some books I describe as slow magic – ones where it is about the emotion and beautiful writing. There is an attentive focus on character and relationships to each other in this book, and it runs deep. Soseki masterfully captivated me with his writing and drew me deeper and deeper into the world of these characters and their interactions. It pulled on my heart and all in all, I really appreciated this read.

Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
Kokoro is the story of an unnamed protagonist who meets his mentor whom he refers to as Sensei. Truth be told not much take place in the book as far as action is concerned so if you are looking for a page turner you'll probably end up disappointed. However, Soseki manages to portray a whole era masterfully and he really unravels the depths of human psyche. The themes included in the book are mistrusting people, dysfunctional communication, inability to relate to other people's feelings, sadness, ...more
Nancy Oakes
11/30/2016 - update: thanks to my love for foreign films, British comedy and other shows which for some reason we cannot get here, we have multi-region dvd capability & so I was able to watch the movie based on this novel. Scroll to the bottom of this post if at all interested in the film.*

Kokoro is,as I discovered, one of those novels where a second reading and a bit of research can completely change what you thought about it after the first time through. The second read was spurred by 1) disco
Clif Hostetler
Oct 16, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
This is a classic Japanese novel first published in 1914. It is written in first person voice of a college aged student describing his relationship with an older man. In the first half of the book the description of this friend provides hints of some secret from his pass that he’s not sharing.

The second half of the book consists of the text of a letter from his older friend addressed to the story’s narrator. This long letter is of course in the first person voice of his friend, and was written
Katie Lumsden
Dec 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe 3.5. An interesting read, with a compelling structure and good characterisation. I felt the ending needed a little more, though.
Some books I close the cover on and I could tell you that minute exactly what I think of them, what they were trying to convey, and whether they have done it well. This isn’t one of those books. I finished it. I sat a while. I pondered. I wondered even then if there was something about our narrator and Sensei’s relationship that I had missed, something about Sensei and his friend, K’s? Sensei means “teacher”, but what exactly did he wish to teach our young narrator and did he succeed?

I wondered
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Reading 1001: Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki 5 24 May 04, 2021 10:50AM  
/lit/ (revival ed...: [July 2020] Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki 18 84 Aug 08, 2020 07:09PM  
Japanese Literature: Discussion for Kokoro, by Natsume Sōseki 38 191 Mar 12, 2020 07:13AM  
Never too Late to...: 2019 August: Kokoro 20 39 Aug 26, 2019 11:28AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect summary for specific edition 3 14 Feb 12, 2019 07:03PM  
Club littéraire p...: Club littéraire parisien - 11 juin 2017 à 17h00 3 6 Jun 10, 2017 07:39AM  
End of book comments 1 26 Jan 02, 2016 06:54PM  

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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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“You seem to be under the impression that there is a special breed of bad humans. There is no such thing as a stereotype bad man in this world. Under normal conditions, everybody is more or less good, or, at least, ordinary. But tempt them, and they may suddenly change. That is what is so frightening about men.” 309 likes
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