I am finally back from holiday and fighting the post-holiday blues. I will be slowly catching up on comments – although I caught the Tsum Tsum fever while I was away, so it may take longer than usual 😄 PS Does anyone play it? Add me on LINE, the username is aentee!
Meanwhile, I’d like to give you guys some recommendations of books you should read before or after you go to Japan – just to give you a slice of what the country has to offer! I am still reading some of these books myself, as a way for me to wean off my vacation. Thank goodness for books and their ability to transport you!
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Murakami books is basically a must-try for English-speakers interested in Japanese literature. This particular one is a classic, portraying adolescent and nostalgia and the pain of letting go. Set in a somber and lonely Tokyo, this book is a perfect winter read. There is also a spin off movie featuring current Japan IT Girl: Keiko Mizuhara (honestly, her face was plastered EVERYWHERE I went – how is she so beautiful?!)
A Modern History of Japan by Andrew Gordon
I find it a lot more interesting to traipse through all the castles and temples of Japan when I realise the historical significance behind them. This particular nonfiction book is accessible and a riveting read, leading you from the rise of the Tokugawa shogunate through to the Meiji Restoration and subsequent era.
The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne Valente
Once again proving that I am utterly incapable of making a recommendation list without sliding in Catherynne Valente. This anthology are short stories inspired by the myths of Japan, mixed with the author’s own experiences there. Japan has changed Valente irrevocably, and not for romantic reasons as you might think. I highly recommend this based on the beautiful, haunting proses and creative incorporation of mythology alone.
The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki
Tanizaki is a huge literary figure in his homeland, and The Makioka Sisters is his most well-known work. Detailing the rise and fall of the aristocratic Makioka Sisters, the setting is in Osaka and surrounding area rather than the usual Tokyo.
Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwasaki
While it’s a classic, I hesitate to recommend Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden due to reasons listed here. Instead, I recommend reading this autobiography of Mineko Iwasaki, one of the most successful geiko of her days. Despite its shortcomings, it offers an authentic glimpse to life behind the gilded walls of the floating world.
Have you ever read books that made you want to go on vacation? What are your favourite armchair vacation settings?