So you are looking for a work of modern Japanese literature to read?

by Jeffrey Angles





·        Browse other books by the authors listed in the course readings.  (If we do not read the entire work in class, you are welcome to select the work for your project.) 

·        Browse the bookshelves in the library in the area around PL800 through PL840.  

·        Browse the list of authors below.

·        Browse the booklists of Vertical, a new publisher that specializes solely in popular Japanese fiction

·        Browse the booklists of Kodansha International, a publisher that has included large numbers of translations of Japanese literature in its list of books about Japan.

·        Browse the booklists of Kurodahan, a publisher that publishes translations of Japanese fiction, especially fantasy novels, mysteries, and science fiction.

·         Browse the booklists of Tuttle Publishing, a publisher that specializes in publications about Asia, many of which have to do with Japan.

·         Browse the booklists of the Japanese Literature Publishing Project, which supports the translations of important contemporary works into English. 



(With notes about representative works) Click on the links below to do a search at



·        ABE Sada: Famous “true-crime” case; after murdering her lover, her confessions became quite famous

·        HAYASHI Fumiko: Novels about women during the modernist period

·        HIGUCHI Ichiyō: Famous author of short stories about lives of women & pleasure quarters
(Her face now graces the Japanese 5000 yen bill.)

·        HIRATSUKA Raichō: Prominent early-twenthieth century feminist writer, wrote famous autobiography & essays

·        KINOSHITA Naoe: Novels about left-wing politics & anarchism

·        YOSANO Akiko: Poetess who scandalized the Japanese literary world by writing poems about erotic desire in Meiji

·        UNO Chiyo: Free-thinking novelist, "modern girl" of 1920s & 1930s

·        KŌDA Aya: Novels about experiences of women in the early twentieth century



·        AKASAKA Mari: Popular novelist, her novel Vibrator about sexual self-discovery and liberation was turned into a film

·        ARIYOSHI Sawako: Realistic and moving novels about experiences of women in history and relationships with their families

·        EKUNI Kaori: Best-selling contemporary novelist who has written about relationships

·        ENCHI Fumiko: Prominent feminist novelist who incorporates frequent references to classical literature

·        ITŌ Hiromi: Japanese poet / novelist, writes about female body & her experiences living in California

·        KANEHARA Hitomi: Young prize-winning author about Japanese subculture

·        KIRINO Natsuo: Best-selling contemporary mystery novelist who writes novels so gripping you can’t sleep until you are done!

·        KŌNO Taeko: Surreal novels about women, explore various forms of erotic desire and the position of women in society

·        KURAHASHI Yumiko: Writer prominent from the 1960s onward, famous for surreal novels that overturn assumptions about women

·        KUROYANAGI Tetsuko: Author of a famous novel about her childhood experiences

·        KUSAMA Yayoi: Artist & writer, surreal and violent novels, some about stay in US

·        NATSUKI Shizuko: Popular author of many mystery novels, several of which have been translated into English

·        OGAWA Yōko: One of Japan’s most popular contemporary novelists, writes about unusual people & situations

·        SAKURAI Ami: Author of subcultural novels about Japanese youth, sex & violence

·        SHIRAISHI Kazuko: Poet of the Beat Generation, recited music to jazz

·        SŌNŌ Ayako: Popular mystery novelist, writes mysteries involving women, some novels reflect her own Catholicism

·        TADA Chimako: Surreal poet, wrote about women in mythology and modern world

·        TAGUCHI Randy (Randī): Contemporary novelist, has written about erotic desire as a shamanistic, otherworldly experience

·        TAWADA Yōko: Surreal, dramatic novels about people living in a world of increasing globalization, lives in Germany

·        TAWARA Machi: Best-selling tanka poet, poems on love and life of young people

·        TOGAWA Masako: Popular mystery novelist

·        TOMIOKA Taeko: Novels and poetry

·        TSUSHIMA Yūko: Famous feminist novelist, realistic depictions of lives of women

·        MIYABE Miyuki: Best-selling contemporary mystery novelist, deals with social problems

·        YAMADA Amy (Eimi): Best-selling novelist, writes about erotic desire and Jpns women in relationships with Americans

·        YUMOTO Kazumi: Author of nostalgic novels for young adults

·        YU Miri: Bestselling contemporary author, famous novel about a boy who kills father

·        YOSHIMOTO Banana: Best-selling contemporary author about love, desire, and young women who create non-traditional families


·        AKUTAGAWA Ryūnosuke: Imaginative novelist, gothic stories

·        ARISHIMA Takeo: Novelist, realistic novels about Meiji life

·        DAZAI Osamu: Novelist, novels about family and self 

·        EDOGAWA Ranpo (sometimes romanized Rampo): Mystery novelist, stories of bizarre, ero, guro, nansensu 

·        FUTABATEI Shimei: Early experimenter with modern style 

·        HAGIWARA Sakutarō: Profoundly influential poet who experimented with colloquial style 

·        INAGAKI Taruho: Delightful, short stories about surreal happenings & schoolboy love

·        INOUE Yasushi: Many historical novels, esp about ancient past of Japan and Asia

·        ISHIKAWA Jun: Novelist, surreal works with allegorical meaning, anti-war

·        ISHIKAWA Takuboku: Poet, often wrote about loneliness 

·        IZUMI Kyōka: Gothic novelist, ghost stories

·        KITAHARA Hakushū: Symbolist poet who helped set direction of modern poetry

·        KANEKO Mitsuharu: Leftist novelist and poet

·        KOBAYASHI Takiji: Proletarian (leftist) novelist killed by gov't

·        KŌDA Rohan: Meiji novelist, historical novels, novels about art

·        KUNIKIDA Doppo: Meiji novelist, experimented with new modern style

·        MIYAZAWA Kenji: Novels of fantasy, also wrote poetry

·        MUSHANOKŌJI Saneatsu: Novels about art, friendship

·        MORI Ōgai: Novelist in numerous styles, including historical fiction

·        NAGAI Kafū: Novelist, often wrote about pleasure quarters

·        NAKA Kansuke: Author of a famous novel about childhood

·        NAKANO Shigeharu: Leftist-leaning intellectual novelist

·        NATSUME Sōseki: Famous novelist, philosophical, realistic depictions of Meiji
(His face appeared for many years on the Japanese 1000 yen bill.)

·        NISHIWAKI Junzaburō: Modernist, avant-garde poet   

·        ODA Sakunosuke: Novels about life in Osaka 

·        ŌSUGI Sakae: Writings about left-wing & anarchist movement 

·        SATŌ Haruo: Novelist, imaginative stories & mystery, ero, guro, nansensu

·        SHIGA Naoya: Naturalist novelist, realistic novels about friendship & love 

·        SHIMAZAKI Tōson: Naturalist novelist, historical fiction  

·        TAKAMURA Kōtarō: Poet & sculptor, author of famous love poetry to wife

·        TANIZAKI Jun'ichirō: Famous novelist, wrote “shocking” novels about various forms of eroticism

·        TAYAMA Katai: Naturalist novelist, dramatic novels about Meiji life and love 

·        TOKUDA Shūsei: Novelist, realistic depiction of women and Meiji society

·        TSUBOUCHI Shōyō: Early experimenter with modern style, first modern novel (?)

·        UNO Kōji: Novelist, humorous stories & stories about amorous desire

·        YOKOMITSU Riichi: Modernist, experimental short stories




·        ABE Kōbō: Surreal, existential novels & plays with philosophical overtones 

·        ENDŌ Shūsaku: Christian novelist, humorous novels 

·        FUJISAWA Shūhei: Popular historical novelist, wrote story that was basis for The Twilight Samurai

·        FURUI Yoshikichi: Obsessive, detailed novels about individuals in modern Japan

·        HASHIMOTO Osamu: Humorous contemporary novelist

·        HAITANI Kenjirō: Wrote popular novel about young man and teacher

·        HIGASHINO Keigō: Popular novel about novel about spirit possession

·        IBUSE Masuji: Novelist, wrote famous novel about Hiroshima survivor

·        ISHIKAWA Tatsuzō: Author of famous novel about soldiers in WWII 

·        KAIKŌ Takeshi (also known as KAIKŌ Ken): Novels about postwar Japan 

·        KAWABATA Yasunari: Nobel-prize winner, some early novels are experiemental, later novels about various aspects of Jpns tradition, many short stories 

·        KITAKATA Kenzō: Author of popular novels, including some on yakuza

·        KUROI Senji: Popular author writing about daily lives of people in modern Japan

·        MARUYA Saiichi: Novelist, novel about WWII, novels about individualism & love

·        MATSUMOTO Seichō: Mystery novelist, bestsellers soon after war 

·        MISHIMA Yukio: Famous novelist, many novels about postwar life, some historical fiction, author of famous semi-autobiographical work on same-sex eroticism

·        MIYAMOTO Teru: Finely crafted novels about life among common people

·        MURAKAMI Haruki: Best-selling contemporary author, extremely surreal novels

·        MURAKAMI Ryū: Best-selling author, sometimes violent & manga-like

·        NAKAGAMI Kenji: Novels about burakumin life & life among the poor

·        NITTA Jirō: Popular novelist who novel about hardship in northern Japan

·        NOSAKA Akiyuki: Humorous novels, including novel about eroticism

·        ŌE Kenzaburō: Nobel-prize winner, existential & surreal novels

·        ŌOKA Shōhei: Famous novel about WWII in Phillipines, other novels about domestic life

·        SENA Hideaki: Novels popular in youth subculture, based on video games

·        SHIMADA Masahiko: Surreal contemporary novelist

·        SHIMADA Sōji: Best-selling mystery novelist

·        SHŌNŌ Junzō: Best-selling novelist, novels about contemporary postwar life

·        SUZUKI Kōji: Best-selling contemporary horror novelist, author of Ring series

·        TACHIHARA Masaaki: Contemporary novelist, novels with traditional flavor

·        TAKAGI Akimitsu: Mystery novelist 

·        TAKAHASHI Gen'ichirō: Best-selling contemporary novelist, bizarre stories

·        TAKAHASHI Mutsuo: Contemporary poet, explicit poems on same-sex eroticism

·        TAKEYAMA Michio: Famous novel about aftermath of WWII in Burma

·        TAMURA Ryūichi: Poet in avant-garde style, existential themes

·        TANIKAWA Shuntarō: One of most popular poets in contemporary Japan

·        TEZUKA Osamu: Graphic novelist, father of modern Jpns animation

·        YAMADA Taichi: Popular novelist, some ghostly stories about dealing with memory

·        YOKOMIZO Seishi: Mystery novels with creepy, supernatural flair

·        YOSHIKAWA Eiji: Epic-scale historical novels, especially about samurai

·        YOSHIMURA Akira: Novelist, novels about difficulty of postwar existence

·        YOSHIOKA Minoru: Surreal postwar poet

·        YOSHIYUKI Junnosuke: Postwar novelist






·        J. Thomas RIMER and Van GESSEL (eds.), The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, vol. 1: From Restoration to Occupation, 1868-1945 (NY: Columbia University Press, 2005).

·        J. Thomas RIMER and Van GESSEL (eds.), The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature, vol. 2: From 1945 to the Present (NY: Columbia University Press, 2007).

·        Theodore W. GOOSSEN (ed.), The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories (NY: Oxford University Press, 1997).

·        Jeffrey ANGLES and J. Thomas Rimer (eds.), Japan: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (Berkeley: Whereabouts Press, 2006).

·        Howard HIBBETT (ed.), Contemporary Japanese Literature: An Anthology of Fiction, Film, and Other Writing Since 1945 (NY: Knopf, 1977; Boston: Cheng & Tsui, 2005).

·        Donald KEENE (ed.), Modern Japanese Literature (NY: Grove, 1956).

·        Ivan MORRIS (ed.), Modern Japanese Stories (Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1962).

·        Van C. GESSEL & Matsumoto TOMONDE (eds.), The Showa Anthology: Modern Japanese Short Stories: 1929-84 (NY: Kodansha International, 1985).

·        Lane DUNLOP (ed. and trans.), A Late Chrysanthemum: Twenty-One Stories from the Japanese (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986).  

·        Alfred BIRNBAUM (ed.), Monkey Brain Sushi (NY: Kodansha International, 1991).

·        Helen MITSIOS (ed.), New Japanese Voices: The Best Contemporary Fiction from Japan (NY: Atlantic Monthly, 1991).

·        New Japanese Fiction, special issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction 12.2 (Summer 2002).

·        Giles MURRAY (ed.), Breaking into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text (NY: Kodansha International, 2003). [Contains both English and Japanese]  




Women and modern literature

·        Rebecca COPELAND and Melek ORTABASI (eds.), The Modern Murasaki: Writing by Women of Meiji Japan (NY: Columbia University Press, 2006).

·        Ruth OZEKI (ed.), Inside: Japanese Women by Japanese Women (NY: Kodansha International, 2006).

·        Noriko Mizuta LIPPIT and Kyoko Iriye SELDEN (ed. and trans.), Japanese Women Writers: Twentieth Century Short Fiction (NY: Sharpe, 1991).

·        Yukiko TANAKA (ed.), To Live and to Write: Selections by Japanese Women Writers, 1913-1938 (Seattle: Seal Press, 1987).

·        Yukiko TANAKA & Elizabeth HANSON (eds.), This Kind of Woman: Ten Stories by Japanese Women Writers, 1960-1976 (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1982).  

·        Yukiko TANAKA (ed.), Unmapped Territories: New Women's Fiction from Japan (Seattle: Women in Translation, 1991).

·        Makoto UEDA (ed.), Mother of Dreams: Portrayals of Women in Modern Japanese Fiction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).


Queer literature

·        Stephen MILLER (ed.), Partings at Dawn: An Anthology of Japanese Gay Fiction (San Francisco: Gay Sunshine Press, 1996).


Modernist literature

·        William J. TYLER (ed.), Modanizumu: Modernist Fiction from Japan, 1913-1938 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008). 


Specific places in Japan

·        Jeffrey ANGLES and J. Thomas Rimer (eds.), Japan: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (Berkeley: Whereabouts Press, 2006).

·        Michael MOLASKY and Steve RABSON (eds.), Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000).

·        Lawrence ROGERS (ed. and trans.), Tokyo Stories: A Literary Stroll (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2002).  

·        Giles MURRAY (ed. and trans.): Tokyo Fragments: Short Stories of Modern Tokyo by Five of Japan’s Leading Contemporary Writers (Tokyo: IBC Books, 2005).


Mystery fiction

·        Ellery QUEEN (ed.), Ellery Queen's Japanese Golden Dozen: The Detective Story World in Japan (Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1978).   

Proletarian fiction

·        The Cannery Boat and Other Japanese Short Stories [Proletarian Literature from the early 20th century] (NY: Greenwood Press, 1968).


Pleasure districts

·        Howard HIBBETT (ed.), The Floating World in Japanese Fiction (NY: Oxford University Press, 1959)


Atomic bombing

·        ŌE Kenzaburō (ed.), The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath (NY: Grove, 1985)




Anthologies of women’s poetry

·        Hiroaki SATO (ed. and trans.), Japanese Women Poets: An Anthology (Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 2007).

·        Leza LOWITZ (ed.) and Miyuki AOYAMA, Other Side River: Free Verse (Berkeley, Stone Bridge Press, 1995).

·        Leza LOWITZ, Miyuki AOYAMA, and Akemi TOMIOKA (ed.), A Long Rainy Season: Haiku and Tanka (Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 1994).

·        Sawako NAKAYASU (ed. and trans.), Four From Japan: Contemporary Poetry and Essays by Women (NY: Litmus Press/Belladonna Books, 2006).


Other anthologies

·        Makoto UEDA (ed.), Modern Japanese Tanka (NY: Columbia University Press, 1996).

·        Naoshi KORIYAMA and Edward LUEDERS (eds.), Like Underground Water: The Poetry of Mid-Twentieth Century Japan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1995).

·        Leith MORTON (ed.), An Anthology of Contemporary Japanese Poetry (NY: Garland, 1993).  

·        Thomas FITZSIMMONS, GŌZŌ Yoshimasu, KINOSHITA Tetsuo, and Christopher DRAKE (eds.), The New Poetry of Japan: The 70s and 80s (Rochester, MI: Katydid, 1993).

·        Hiroaki SATO and Burton WATSON (ed.), From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry (NY: Columbia University Press, 1986).

·        KIJIMA Hajime (ed.), The Poetry of Postwar Japan (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1975).

·        Sawako NAKAYASU (ed.), Factorial Three (2004).

·        Sawako NAKAYASU (ed.), Factorial Four (2005).

·        Sawako NAKAYASU (ed.), Factorial Five (2006).


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Last updated April 15, 2008