Mt FujiJapan, with it’s dramatic history and exotic culture, has always fascinated Westerners. Catch a glimpse of Japan through these books.

The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby. This brilliantly imagined memoir of Murasaki, author of the world’s first novel, is filled with details of 11th century Japan and the intrigues and politics of court life. Dalby successfully introduces and makes familiar a very distant, very foreign time and place.

Autumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka. Rich and vivid, this novel, set during the waning days of Japan’s feudal age, follows the story of a clan whose members can see into the future. An epic tale of swords, sorcery and honor.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Long-time favorite of book clubs everywhere, Memoirs of a Geisha follows the life and fortune of a girl who became a geisha, set at the end of the golden age of geisha. Filled with fascinating details of the private world and hardships of a geisha, it is also a beautiful love story.

The Strangeness of Beauty by Lydia Minatoya. Etsuko returns to 1930s Japan with her orphaned neice after having lived in the United States for several years. This book follows three generations of women living in a country on the brink of war.

December 6 by Martin Cruz Smith. Just days before Pearl Harbor, Harry Niles is making plans to leave Japan on the last flight to Hong Kong, but first, there are some loose ends to tie up. An evocative snapshot of a unique time and place, and a hero that hides a sentimental heart under a shield of cynicism.

American Fuji by Sara Backer. Fired from her beloved teaching job at Shizuyama University, American Gaby Stanton makes ends meet selling fantasy funerals to the rich. She agrees to help Alex Thorn search for clues to his son’s death. This modern-day culture clash brings contemporary Japan vividly to life.

One Thought on “Armchair Traveler goes to Japan

  1. What a great list – I’ll have to add those I haven’t read to my list of books to read. Can I suggest Alan Booth’s “the Roads to Sata” as well? Great reading and certainly makes you happy it’s not you doing the walking.

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