Three Interesting Love Stories by Japanese Authors

Three Cover images of Japanese lovestories
On Valentine’s Day in Japan, only women or girls show their love to their friends and lovers by giving them chocolate. One month later, on March 14th, men or boys will thank their loved ones with presents, mostly chocolate or sweets.
Valentine’s Day is also a good opportunity to read a romantic book because today is also the International book giving day. The following books are excellent Japanese love stories playing in different eras and cultural circles. I have read and reviewed them on this blog a while ago. Maybe you enjoy them too.

Geisha in Rivalry by Nagai Kafû
What is it about?
‘Geisha in Rivalry’ is a classic work of the famous Japanese author Nagai Kafû. The novel plays in the early 20th century in the red-light districts of Tokyo. It is the story of the middle-aged geisha Komayo, who falls in love with an actor. Read the book review of Geisha in Rivalry on Japan Kaleidoskop.

Title in Japanese: 永井 荷風. 腕くらべ, 1918.
Translated by Kurt Meissner. Tuttle Publishing, 1963 (Cover).

The Ten Loves of Nishino by Kawakami Hiromi
What is it about?
Kawakami Hiromi is a well-known contemporary Japanese writer. Many of her works have been translated into English in recent years. ‘The Ten Loves of Nishino’ is a short story collection of ten stories, each from the perspective of a different woman, who fell in love with Nishino. Read the book review of Ten Love of Nishino on Japan Kaleidoskop.

Title in Japanese: ニシノユキヒコの恋と冒. 2003.
Translated by Allison Markin Powell. Europa Editions. 2019 (Cover).

Quicksand by Tanizaki Jun’ichirô
What is it about?
Tanizaki Jun’ichirô is one of the most talented Japanese authors. He has written many novels about love and passion in many forms, he is often exploring the dark sides and moral taboos, but not without humor. ‘Quicksand’ is a psychological thriller. Tanizaki has written a novel about love and betrayal, and this time he tells a love story between women. The work was serialized between 1928 and 1930 in the ‘Kaizô’ magazine. Read the book review of Quicksand on Japan Kaleidoskop.

Title in Japanese: ‘Manji’. ‚Kaizô‘. 1928 to 1930.
Translated by Howard Hibett. Vintage. 1994 (Cover).

Book Review: Manazuru by Kawakami Hiromi

manazuruThis morning I just finished reading Manazuru and it has a surprising and beautiful end. Manazuru is a very touching and meaningful novel about love and letting go, about the cycle of live.

Kawakami Hiromi takes you on a journey to Manazuru and the inner life of the writer Kei. She is working through a process of grief and is saying goodbye to her haunting memories of her relationship with her husband Rei.

He has left her ten years ago without saying a word. One day he did not come back and Kei had no clue about his reason and whereabouts.

The present story is told from Kei’s perspective. A woman in her early thirties living with her eight-year old daughter Momo and her mother in Tokyo. Her life went on after the disappearance of Rei. She even found a new lover, but she never could forget her husband — although it has been so many years.  Because he left her without a reason and no trace, it was impossible for Rei to let him go emotionally.

One day she is drawn to Manazuru, a place nearby the sea. A mysterious inner wish has taken her to go there and she hopes to find an answer of the past with Rei. This journey brings her some meaningful answers. Kawakami Hiromi tells the story of Kei  in a vivid, surprising and even sometimes funny way. It is easy to read and if you are grieving or not she brings lightness to you. Her thoughts about love and relationships are very deep and touching.

I liked Manazuru very much. If you have read other novels like The Briefcase or The Nakano Thrift Store with delight, I am sure you will love this one too.

川上 弘美. 真鶴. 2006. Kawakami Hiromi: Manazuru, 2010. Translated by Michael Emmerich.