Japanese Literature discussion

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message 1: by Zala (new)

Zala | 16 comments Hi there! Just thought this topic could be useful. :)

... and I wanted to say I'm sorry I haven't been around much these past few months ... this year, school is just overwhelming. I will try and be a better moderator from now on, I promise. But it seems you managed just fine without me. :)


message 2: by Tsuki (new)

Tsuki (irtsuki) | 13 comments *waves* hello


message 3: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 5 comments I understand how school can get in the way of more importaint things. *coughs* However, as a Japanese major, I can justify time spent discussing Japanese lit.


message 4: by Tsuki (new)

Tsuki (irtsuki) | 13 comments will we extend the books reading date by a month or are we going to be voting on feb-march book soon? i think we should extend.


message 5: by Jo (new)

Jo Hi everyone. I just joined the group!


xXRossiya AruXx (Biggestanimegeek) Yo.


message 7: by Grant&Mimi (new)

Grant&Mimi (ardentiaars) | 4 comments Welcome, glad you are here! :)


xXRossiya AruXx (Biggestanimegeek) mhm^^


message 9: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 Hi I've just joined this group and am looking to widen my knowledge and reading list when it comes to Japanese Literature - anyone got any recommendations (NB can't actually read Japanese but would be interested in recommendations in English, Turkish or even French!)


message 10: by xXRossiya AruXx (new)

xXRossiya AruXx (Biggestanimegeek) Cool


message 11: by Parrish (last edited Jul 10, 2010 09:34AM) (new)

Parrish Lantern Hi, what about Haruki Muraki - The Elephant vanishes ( a collection of short stories) or The Wind-up bird chronicles & maybe a non-fiction- Under ground( the Tokyo gas attack & the Japanese psyche).Shusako Endo - The Sea & poison or Samurai. Kenzaburo oe - The Silent Cry. Yoko Ogawa- The Housekeeper & the Professor, or something by Koji Suzuki (Spiral ,Loop)another good choice is Ryu Murakami's In the Miso Soup or Almost Transparent Blue. Hope you find this helpful & welcome.


message 12: by the gift (new)

the gift | 42 comments hi, i think it depends if you want to read something particularly exotic and different 'japanese' (for which I would say kawabata and maybe mishima), something about the collision of 'western values' and japan (endo or soseki) or something that is a different 'angle' and not too different from western (murakami haruki). there is defiantly decadent (murakami ryu). there is quirky short work with an oddness and concision that seems japanese-postmodern (yoshimoto or ogawa)...there might be something identifiably japanese in all these authors, but i think it helps to be surprised. good reading.


message 13: by Praj (last edited Jul 29, 2010 08:19AM) (new)

Praj | 11 comments Has anyone read books by Banana Yoshimoto? I have been trying to get my hands on the literature.


message 14: by Jo (new)

Jo I've got one at home but i haven't read it yet.


message 15: by Jenn (new)

Jenn | 2 comments Praj wrote: "Has anyone read books by Banana Yoshimoto? I have been trying to get my hands on the literature."

I've read two: Amrita and N.P.

N.P. was just okay, but I really enjoyed Amrita. I always hear that Kitchen is supposed to be her best.


message 16: by the gift (new)

the gift | 42 comments i would agree that 'kitchen' is the best of her work- concise, strange, engaging characters like john irving but not so long.


message 17: by Praj (new)

Praj | 11 comments The reviews on "kitchen' and 'Amrita' are pretty good.Never read it though.Currently its Lafcadio Hearn for me, one of my all time favs..trying to get through all his works.


message 18: by Beka (new)

Beka Sukhitashvili (bekasukhitashvili) Hi everyone! I love Japanese literature and poetry (tancka, haiko, gendais. My favorite japanese writers are kavabata, abe, akutagava and endo. :)


message 20: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 Hello again - just read Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto and thought it was great. Would highly recommend it! Also I was wondering if anyone had seen or read any reviews of the forthcoming film adaptation of Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood? It's out at FACT next month so i was thinking of going along to check it out.


message 21: by Kelvin (last edited Mar 20, 2011 07:27PM) (new)

Kelvin | 6 comments Hey guys,
I am new to Goodreads and Japanese literature as well. I read Botchan, by Natsume Soseki and really enjoyed it. I thought: why not another one? Within a week after finishing Botchan I finished Sanshiro and absolutely loved it. I am hooked to Japanese literature and even started to learn some Japanese ^^. Do you have any books you would recommend?


message 22: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 3 comments Hi, I'm new to the group. I wanted to know: is there a bookclub still going on (in any form--even if just once/quarter)? I'd love to participate if so.


message 23: by Carola (new)

Carola (brilliantyears) | 138 comments Melissa wrote: "Hi, I'm new to the group. I wanted to know: is there a bookclub still going on (in any form--even if just once/quarter)? I'd love to participate if so."

I agree with this!


message 24: by Leonard (new)

Leonard (LeonardSeet) | 13 comments Kelvin wrote: "Hey guys,
I am new to Goodreads and Japanese literature as well. I read Botchan, by Natsume Soseki and really enjoyed it. I thought: why not another one? Within a week after finishing Botchan I fin..."


Haruki Murakami is a very popular writer in Japan. I recommend The Win-Up Bird Chronicles and Kafka on the Shore. Very enjoyable readings.


message 25: by David (new)

David Haws Tanizaki says that Naomi's name is three kanji (I've only seen it in katakana). Does anyone knnow what the three kanji are?


message 26: by Tocotin (new)

Tocotin | 8 comments David wrote: "Tanizaki says that Naomi's name is three kanji (I've only seen it in katakana). Does anyone knnow what the three kanji are?"

Hi David, according to the original it's 奈緒美


message 27: by David (new)

David Haws Thanks, I would never have gotten that. BTW, I was a little amazed to see a reference to Osaka as part of 西日本. I’ve never been there, but it doesn’t look that far from Tokyo on the map. Is it a kind of dismissive thing (like New Yorkers used to discount the significance of anything west of the Hudson)? Growing up in California, I was always amazed at points east of the Rockies being called “the west.”


message 28: by Tocotin (new)

Tocotin | 8 comments No, it's not dismissive in the least. It's just a geographical thing. Actually, in the early Edo period, Kyoto and Osaka area was called "Kamigata" 上方, "upper regions", and it was considered to be much more highbrow and refined than Edo. This view persisted, even after the emperor moved the capital to Edo/Tokyo, and is clearly visible in Tanizaki's books like "Some Prefer Nettles" (if I got the title right), or "The Makioka Sisters".


message 29: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne | 6 comments ok i'm looking for recommendations for(translated)erotic literature...


message 30: by Gary (new)

Gary (a_gary) | 2 comments Adrienne wrote: "ok i'm looking for recommendations for(translated)erotic literature..."

Erm. You could try Amy Yamada but its pretty rough. It's less titillation than it is examination but I don't know what you like to get off on.


message 31: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne | 6 comments Thanks Gary I'm not looking for 'erotic romance' so i'll definately check out Amy Yamada.. any more you can think of?


message 32: by Gary (new)

Gary (a_gary) | 2 comments I'm afraid not. Apparently her entire repertoire is of a similar bend so you may as well check all of her stuff out.


message 33: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne | 6 comments Thanks for your help Gary:)


message 34: by Kiyomi (new)

Kiyomi | 60 comments Kelvin wrote: "Hey guys,
I am new to Goodreads and Japanese literature as well. I read Botchan, by Natsume Soseki and really enjoyed it. I thought: why not another one? Within a week after finishing Botchan I fin..."


Hi, I'm new here,too. Glad you like one of our well-known authors.
Sanshiro is the first title of three-book series.So I'd recommend another two books, sequently, Sorekara and Mon.
Wagahaiwanekodearu (I am a cat.),which is in most of our junior high textbooks is also recommendable.


message 35: by Kiyomi (new)

Kiyomi | 60 comments David wrote: "Tanizaki says that Naomi's name is three kanji (I've only seen it in katakana). Does anyone knnow what the three kanji are?"

奈緒美 is most likely.Japanese people are said to have started naming their daughters Naomi because of the book. It sounded very modern at that time.


message 36: by Kiyomi (new)

Kiyomi | 60 comments David wrote: "Thanks, I would never have gotten that. BTW, I was a little amazed to see a reference to Osaka as part of 西日本. I’ve never been there, but it doesn’t look that far from Tokyo on the map. Is it a k..."

I grew up in Kanto関東.西日本 feels far away. People from Osaka are fun to talk with. Osaka produces many comedians. Their strong accents add good flavor to their humor. They seem to have something like sibling rivalry toward Tokyo. Hoped I could explain a little how Japanese people think of 西日本.


message 37: by David (new)

David Haws 清美さん (did I get the kanji right?)
I started reading a little Japanese fiction over the summer. Until then, the only recognizably Nikkei stuff I’d read was No-No Boy (John Okada—great book) and All I Asking for Is My Body (Milton Murayama—also good, but more like a collection of linked stories). While I haven’t given up on my Japanese, I decided that if I want to read Japanese fiction in this lifetime, I’d better do it in English. So I read some Ichiyo Higuchi (the only 日本人 writer I’d heard of) and then decided to see if there was any kind of a forum on Goodreads that might be helpful in suggesting titles (I hadn’t been online in more than a year, but have been known to get some useful SCFI suggestions from that group). I saw that they’d read the Makioka Sisters a couple months ago; and I had liked the film, and so read 細雪. I also read Naomi, and have a copy of The Key, and Diary of a Mad Old Man (I really like Tanizaki). I’m currently about a third of the way into 心 and find the author’s voice surprising like 坊ちゃん. I also saw some references to Futabatei (in connection with Higuchi) and put a copy of An Adopted Husband in my to-read stack. Classes start today (I teach) so it might be a while before I get much time to sit back and read.
I think I’d bought (uncritically) the critique that American Nisei were strong in the visual arts and poetry, but weak with long narratives (it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I think the argument had to do with spending all that time in Japanese Language schools before the war). I love contemporary Japanese film (茶の味 is probably my favorite) but little of it gets packaged for a general American audience.
What kind of stuff do you like to read?


message 38: by Kiyomi (last edited Aug 22, 2011 11:45PM) (new)

Kiyomi | 60 comments Dear David
Thank you for the reply. Yes, 清美 is right.
I read a variety of genres in both Japanese and English.
I've recently decided to read classics which have stood the test of time, hoping to find through literature what human beings are and how I should live .
I'm reading Anne of Green Gables, Inazo Nitobe (you've heard of Bushido, haven't you?) and others.
Why do you find Natsume, the author of 坊ちゃん&こころ surprising? I always find myself in his books so I'm just curious.
Keep in touch!


message 39: by David (new)

David Haws 清美さん,
No I hadn’t heard of Nitobe’s book, but we had a copy in our library, so I checked it out and am looking forward to it. As a first impression, it seems odd that someone with pacifist leanings would embrace a martial system (which may be a general, western misconception motivating his book?). The only reference I’ve ever seen to 武士道 in western moral thought is Mary Midgley’s comment on the practice of 辻斬り.

Over the past five or six year, most of the fiction I’ve read is in the ScFi genre. I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables, but I recently read some of Elizabeth Gaskell’s books (not too dissimilar) and thought they were wonderful (especially Cranford, and the description of Mrs. Forrester’s cow).

Sometimes when you read an author you hear his or her voice in your head, and it’s pretty much there in all of their books—it’s more than just narrative voice, which, I think, is more about eccentricity. I first noticed it with Raymond Carver’s short stories, and thought that maybe it was because I knew him. But I’ve felt the experience with others (Kerouac, Theodore Sturgeon, Jane Austen, Willa Cather) and maybe it’s just the way a writer’s personality informs the use of language. I would have thought it impossible with a translation, but I feel a similar kind of voice in the two Soseki books I’ve read. (Maybe I’m not explaining it very well.)


message 40: by David (new)

David Haws I watched 鴨川ホルモー last night (Battle League Horumō—it’s such a funny film) but picking up any dialect (let alone accent) is way beyond me. Of course, 山田was great (even better than with 電車男) but I really liked 荒川 良々(Yoshi Yoshi Arakawa). I see that he’s not from 京阪神地方, but I wondered if he might have been doing the kind of accent you were talking about?


message 41: by Andrea (last edited Aug 24, 2011 12:54PM) (new)

Andrea (areid1) | 21 comments Praj wrote: "Has anyone read books by Banana Yoshimoto? I have been trying to get my hands on the literature."

Hi, I just finished reading Kitchen, which is her debut novel and fantastic. It is a short novel and quick to read, but I found it interesting.Here is my blog post on Kitchen. I'm currently reading . Goodbye Tsugunami. I'm not sure of this one yet, but I'm only about half way. I've heard that her critics call her superficial, whereas her readers find her works profound.


message 42: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (areid1) | 21 comments Hi everyone, I have recently fallen in love with Japanese literature, largely thanks to Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. I'm looking forward to joining in the discussion. My list of to-read Japanese authors has already grown substantially thanks to this group!


message 43: by Kiyomi (last edited Aug 25, 2011 04:04AM) (new)

Kiyomi | 60 comments David wrote: "清美さん,
No I hadn’t heard of Nitobe’s book, but we had a copy in our library, so I checked it out and am looking forward to it. As a first impression, it seems odd that someone with pacifist leaning..."


Davidさん
Well, actually I'm reading another book by Nitobe, but I'm happy that you're interested in 武士道. So I read it again yesterday. Nitobe says in the preface of the book, "The direct inception of the book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife." (She was American.) It also seems he wanted to explain to his friends from overseas how Japanese people gave moral education at that time.
My grandfather on Mother's side was 武士 and I feel I’m really Japanese reading the book. (I'll never be able to do Harakiri, though.)

Thanks for the information about Elizabeth Gaskell’s books. The Anne series are very popular among Japanese girls and women. I hear the books have deeper meanings connected to the Bible and Shakespeare's works, so I hope to understand it to that level with a Japanese reference explaining what lies between the lines.

I think I've understood what you wrote for me about authors.
If you like 武士道, you’ll like Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, who’s well known here for his writings about Japan in the 19th century. I like many of his works and especially, “The Japanese Smile”. It’s a short story. You’ll find out something new about our seemingly enigmatic smiles.


message 44: by Kiyomi (new)

Kiyomi | 60 comments Andrea wrote: "Hi everyone, I have recently fallen in love with Japanese literature, largely thanks to Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. I'm looking forward to joining in the discussion. My list of to-read Japane..."

Hi, Andrea. I've just visited your blog on Kitchen, which made me want to try Japanese contemporary too. I'd like to find out why our authors like Banana and Murakami are very popular overseas. Looking forward to some discussion.


message 45: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (areid1) | 21 comments Kiyomi wrote: "Andrea wrote: "Hi everyone, I have recently fallen in love with Japanese literature, largely thanks to Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. I'm looking forward to joining in the discussion. My list of..."

Hi Kiyomi,

i'm afraid I don't have a good answer to why these authors are so popular oversees. I can't even remember how I came to hear about Murakami's Norwegian Word, but from there I found more Japanese authors through a basic Google search and ended up loving them. I do feel that the style of writing is very different from what we typically have here. I love the incorporation of nature or peace into the hectic or dramatic lives of the characters. I'd be interested in hearing some discussion as well!


message 46: by Kiyomi (last edited Aug 26, 2011 02:41AM) (new)

Kiyomi | 60 comments Andrea wrote: "Kiyomi wrote: "Andrea wrote: "Hi everyone, I have recently fallen in love with Japanese literature, largely thanks to Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. I'm looking forward to joining in the discuss..."

Hi, Andrea.
Thanks for your reply. It's so natural for us to incorporate nature and peace into our daily lives that I didn't realize until I read your comment that it was one of our unique aspects. I guess it comes from Zen Buddhism. We're part of nature and gods are everywhere, even at the toilet.
I'm glad you love our literature.
Talk to you soon!

ps
Are you interested in movies? If so, let me recommend Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, Japanese animated films directed by Hayao Miyazaki (Studio Gibli). You'll find how we see nature and gods.


message 47: by David (new)

David Haws Kiyomi wrote: "..."
Bushido was an interesting book--and timely, since I'm lecuring on Virtue Ethics over the next couple weeks, and will get a chance to work it in. I'm always amazed at people like Joseph Conrad and Nitobe who are able to sustain a coherent, book-length narrative in something other than their milk tongue. And he seemed to be writing at about the same time Homer Lea produced The Valor of Ignorance (that could have been an interesting exchange of cutlery over the dinner table). The Edwardian prose might be a little annoying for some, but I kind of like it, and it's certainly not as thick as Veblen--who Nitobe seems to like (Mencken does an interesting rip on Veblen in his first Prejudices series).

Seppuku makes a lot more sense, if you think of the stomache as the seat of the soul. I could never imagine why you'd want to commit suicide by ripping your abdomen (it would take so long to die) but then saw one of the generals do it on the film Japan's Longest Day: he didn't have a kaishaku, so he finished by cutting his own throat.

Wasn't there some movement into the samurai class during the Tokugawa period (I seem to recall that Ichiyo Higuchi's father bought in shortly before the Meiji Restoration--one of the reasons why he was undercapitalized as a merchant)?


message 48: by Kiyomi (last edited Aug 26, 2011 01:45AM) (new)

Kiyomi | 60 comments Davidさん
I'm glad Bushido can help your class.

Heart of Darkness by Mr Conrad and a movie, Apocalypse Now describe the darkness in our mind so vividly that I felt scared.

The Valor of Ignorance seems to be about WW2, doesn't it? I'm sorry Nitobe passed away in Canada while working very hard to be a bridge over the pacific even after Japan dropped out of the League of Nations.

Would you give me a little more information about the movement into the samurai class during the Edo era? I could be of help.


message 49: by Andrea (new)

Andrea (areid1) | 21 comments Kiyomi wrote: "Andrea wrote: "Kiyomi wrote: "Andrea wrote: "Hi everyone, I have recently fallen in love with Japanese literature, largely thanks to Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. I'm looking forward to joining..."

Hi Kiyomi, Thanks for the movie recommendations. I will definitely look into them! I had wondered if the themes of nature and peace were rooted in Shinto or Buddhism. I've since started reading up on them to try to understand the literature more.

I would also say the way happiness and balancing the past to the present are explored in Japanese literature are also unique. Especially here in Canada, the past is often discussed as something that haunts us in the present. I have found the Japanese books I have read have been much more positive on these subjects.

Thanks again for your input and movie recommendations! I'm looking forward to continuing exploring Japanese literature and culture!


message 50: by David (new)

David Haws Kiyomi,

The Valor of Ignorance s..."

Lea worked on the book 1905 and (I think) published it in 1906 (I have a copy somewhere). It's interesting, if a little paranoid (he was a Californian). I also seem to recall something about him becoming involved with Sun yat sen.

Yeah, I love Heart of Darkness.

Robert Danly did some translations of Higuchi (In the Shade of Spring Leaves), and mentions that her father was emulating a friend Mashimo Sennosuke "bought himself the rank of samurai in Edo...There were...certain clerkships within the government for which men of plebian stock were eligible. " (pg 4). Maybe that's a crude way of saying it, and it sounds like early Meiji, rather than Tokugawa. I just assumed that it was something akin to the British elevating a prosperous merchant to a peerage. I guess the question is that training as a samurai would be so intense, how could you possibly do it if you weren't born to it? Maybe a closer analogy would be the purchase of lucrative clerical sinecures for second sons would couldn't speak Latin (and therefore couldn't officiate).


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