Japanese Literature Challenge 10

brown girlThis afternoon I received an email inquiring about the Japanese Literature Challenge which I have hosted every year since 2006, but have not announced this year. I wasn’t sure that there was interest enough in reading Japanese Literature for the tenth year in a row, but even if there are only two or three of us, that’s enough for me.

Typically, the event has run from June through January, with the idea being that participants would read at least one work of Japanese literature in that six month period. It can be classical or contemporary, mystery or thriller, and when my friend from Parrish Lantern was blogging, we even included poetry. The only requirement is that the author must be Japanese.

I will not host another review site this year. Instead, I will place a link to this post, and the challenge button, on the bottom of my blog. Then, I will add links to your reviews underneath the button as you leave them in the comment section of this post (or, email me at bellezza.mjs@gmail.com). There is also a link in the menu section at the top of my blog which I will keep updated with your reviews as well.

I have several books I’ve been meaning to read myself. The classical ones include:



I have a few I have been saving of Haruki Murakami’s work, including:


A few also await me from Soseki Natsume:


Finally, I am passionate about Japanese thrillers, and I’m so looking forward to this latest release from Fuminori Nakamura, The Kingdom.

Also, I have long been meaning to read The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide as I’ve seen it reviewed on blogs such as Savidge Reads, Edith’s Miscellany, a life in books,  for a long time.

Coming up witJLCXh a title of your own may be difficult, in which case you may wish to refer to a suggested reading list I’ve put together from all the years of the challenge.

So, are you ready to pick up something Japanese and read it by January, 2017? If so, please tell us what it is you are thinking of reading and feel free to place the button on your blog.

(Happy reading!)


Participants in the Japanese Literature Challenge 10:

Jacqui of Jacqui Wine’s Journal

Gary formerly of Parrish Lantern

Ally of Snow Feathers

Lory of Emerald City Book Review

Edith of  Edith’s Miscellany

Melissa of The Bookbinder’s Daughter

Nadia of A Bookish Way of Life

Frances of Nonsuch Book

Rare Bird at a murder of crows

Juliana at the [blank] garden

Suko at Suko’s Notebook

Emma at Book Around The Corner

Booker Talk

Helen at a gallimaufry

Vishy at Vishy’s Blog

Kelly at Orange Pekoe Reviews

Chris at thebooktrunkblog

 Mae at Mae’s Food Blog

Tamara at Thyme for Tea

97 thoughts on “Japanese Literature Challenge 10”

  1. I have a couple of Japanese books on my Classics Club list, one of which is sitting on the shelves at home so I’ll try to read it between now and the end of the year. I’ll have to think of this as a themed reading event – challenges are not for my reading life (in fact they’re not for any part of my life if I can possibly help it!). 🙂


    1. You’re absolutely right, Jacqui, calling it a themed reading is much better than a challenge. I think “challenge” comes from my earliest days of blogging, when we ran challenges all the time on every subject you can imagine.

      I’d be interested in knowing which books you’re considering; I’d love to read them, too! And, I’m looking reading to Jean Rhys Week in September. xo


      1. The one I have on the shelf is a Soseki, The Gate. Not sure when I’ll get to it — so much of my reading is driven by my mood at the time! — but I’ll aim to read it before the year is out. And yes, it would be lovely to have you along for the Jean Rhys Reading Week is September, glad to hear you’re up for it. 🙂


  2. Hi Bellezza this was always my favourite challenge & I loved finding J-Lit particularly poetry for this. So will follow this in whatever form it takes, there are a lot of people who have developed a love/obsession with Japanese writing due to you & for that you have mine & a lot of other bookfiends eternal thanks. It would be remiss of me to leave without leaving a poem from a favourite Japanese poet

    A SONG
    a piece of waste paper all crumpled up
    that’s me
    trying to get back to its original shape
    it rustles and mumbles

    a beam that supports a house
    that’s me
    in the deep of night when the family is sound asleep
    it squeaks

    a culvert under asphalt
    that’s me
    in the deep of night when no one is moving
    it sings

    © Heiichi Sugiyama


    1. Parrish, you can’t know how much you encourage me and how much your comment(s) mean and have always meant. So so glad you’ll follow from the side…and perhaps read a book or two? Thanks for the two beautiful poems, here and on Facebook.


  3. It goes without saying that I am in and I am happy you have not given up on that, no matter the number of those who will join the challenge… Let me tell you a secret: I finished The Guest Cat and since yesterday, we have a new member we adopted from a shelter and her name is Chibi… you definitely have to find out the connection 🙂


    1. Hooray! Ally, my friend, you are a kindred spirit. Now I’ll have to buy The Guest Cat and read it first for the JLC10. Can’t wait to hear more about your sweet little one, Chibi, and the book! What a great name!!

      (One of my favorite books to read to my class is Crow Boy, a Japanese book in which the main character is named Chibi.)


      1. My post about the Guest Cat will be up on Tuesday, I just finished writing it, oh, and you know Chibi means ‘the little one’ 🙂 I am so happy we can inspire each other in our readings 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I didn’t know Chibi meant “little one”! What a perfect name for your sweet kitty, will you show pictures, too? Can’t wait to read your post, my friend.


  4. I too have been wondering if there was a tenth edition of the challenge… in fact, I asked about it in a comment to your anniversary post in May, but obviously it got lost. I’m always having issues with posting comments on wordpress blogs!

    Of course, I’m again joining your Japanese Literature Challenge. I’ve already made a nice list of eight books for it, but I won’t get to posting it on my blog Edith’s Miscellany before later this month. I’ll gladly accept your offer to e-mail the links to my reviews to you for the above mentioned reason.

    Btw thanks for linking to one of my reviews (The Guest Cat)! It warms my heart to see that my “work” as a blogger is appreciated and pays at least in an immaterial way.


    1. I’m sorry there has been such a struggle leaving comments here. Hopefully the email will resolve that annoyance! But please know I value your participation and thoughts on the books you’ve read, and I’m looking forward to what you choose to read going forward.


  5. M, you know that I’m in. I love the JLC! I’ve just finished reading Murakami’s rat trilogy and absolutely loved it; which means I’m craving more Murakami and more Japanese literature. Talk about perfect timing! I’m so happy you are hosting again 🙂 I definitely plan on reading some Yoshimoto, Murakami and its funny you mentioned The Guest Cat, because I have been wanting to read it as well. I’m excited about this 🙂


    1. How could I host the JLC without you, Ally and Parrish Lantern? It would be awful! There can never be enough Murakami for me, as well as other authors to discover. I’m already looking forward to The Guest Cat all the more!


  6. Hey, I have a copy of The Guest Cat too! And a whole bunch of other wonderful titles that I have obtained because of your efforts with this challenge each year. Most of which still need to be read. Maybe this can be the year. Post Booker of course. I made a similar comment to Richard about the Spanish Lit activity this year. I really will try! I love to read the posts each year.


    1. Frances! How much I would treasure your input. Post Booker, of course!

      Wouldn’t you know I’m going for a third try for this tooth implant, and I am praying that doesn’t impact my summer like it did last year. I so want to read all these books: Booker long list, Spanish lit month, and The Guest Cat.

      Perhaps we could host a read along of The Guest Cat in October? After Jacqui’s Jean Rhys week in September?


    1. I hope the links to the books help, as well as the suggested reading list. That has been culled from all the reviews over all the years. There were so many new to me, too.


  7. I’m in — was hoping you’d host this again! I am going to read Mishima’s Confession of a Mask and reread The Makioka Sisters because it was so glorious the first time, but a long time ago. Also, some Murakami — perhaps Norwegian Wood. I’ve started Botchan and will finish it too.


  8. Count me in, Bellezza! I am happy you decided to keep hosting this challenge ❤ I have The Tale of Genji on my Classics Club list, so I'll try to finish it by January! 🙂


    1. I have never read The Tale of Genji…all 9,000 pages of it, or so it seems. I have an abridged version, but what’s the point? If one is going to read it, I say read the real deal as you are doing. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts! So glad you’re joining in!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this reading challenge. Please count me in! Thank you for hosting this, Bellezza. It is because of your challenge that I became interested in Japanese literature. I’ll add the lovely button to my blog.


    1. Wonderful, Suko! I think you’re one of the original participants so it’s extra special to have your presence again. Thanks for joining in for year ten!


        1. I love love love The Housekeeper and The Professor! I have read both books you mentioned, but Ogawa’s has a special place in my heart, probably due in part to thirty years of teaching. I’m sure you will enjoy the tender beauty of it, too.


  10. Ten years! Congratulations!

    I am so bad at things like this, but surely I can manage one book in six months? Surely? The question is what to read.

    I’ve just written a post of links and linked to Spanish Lit Month but didn’t know about this. I shall rectify the omission on my next post!

    Also, best best best wishes for the tooth implant.


    1. Helen, I so hope you will find that one book of Japanese literature and join us. Many of us will read The Guest Cat which might be something that appeals to you.

      As for that damned tooth implant, literally, with which I struggled all last summer, it has been determined that I will not undergo a third try. I am actually relieved. 🙂


    1. I’m crazy about Keigo Higashino. Have you read Naoko? It is a book I’ll never forget! So glad that you’re joining in the JLC10 this year, you’ve read with us long as I can remember!


  11. I read Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book, because I kept seeing references to it. And I was so fascinated by life in late 10th/early 11th century Japan and the way this woman’s rang clear across the centuries that I read Lady Marusaki’s diary… and then I got a bit carried away and bought The Tale of Genji… and a book of haiku… and Lady Nijo’s Own story… But I haven’t blogged about any of them yet, so would they count for the Japanese Challenge, and if so, can I join in please?


    1. Chris, please do join us! I’d like to read The Pillow Book and The Tale of Genji, too, both of which I own. Perhaps you could get me going on one or both of them! I couldn’t find a blog of yours, but that’s no problem (other than that I’d like to visit you). You’re welcome to leave comments here, or send me a guest post if you’d like me to publish it, or fill me in if I’m missing something. So glad you saw the challenge and wish to participate.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for leaving me a link to your site, which I have now added to the list of participants. So glad to have you along, and a new place that I can visit.


          1. Thank you. I will try and do the first post over the next dew days. I’m looking forward to joining in.


  12. I’m not doing so well with challenges this year but I can’t pass up on this one. It’s one of my faves. And, wow, you’ve been hosting it for 10 years. Definitely can’t pass it up 🙂 Thank you again or encouraging us to explore more Japanese literature.


  13. […] my setting I chose Japan because I was recently thinking about the Japanese Literature Reading Challenged hosted by Dolce Bellezza. If you are joining and need some recommendations, I’ve read the all […]


  14. “Sky Above, Great Wind” is a beautiful book of poems from Zen Master Ryokan. And what a character he was. In Japanese literature, the senses are awake and genres are not always so neatly separated. There’s an enchantment in the everyday world, yet a reckoning with the limited nature of human beings to grasp our own reality.


    1. Hi Mae, I am keeping the list updated by adding links to book reviews on the bottom of the blog as well as in the headings up in the menu. Thanks for reading and reviewing!!! I am behind in my own devouring of Japanese literature!


    1. It most certainly seems that you, Edith and Gary are the only ones “challenged” by Japanese literature so far, but I promise you I will partake soon! I have been consumed with the start of school and the Booker long list, but I am yearning for my stack of Japanese novels. Thanks for being patient with me.


  15. I’ve just started a Japanese literature blog so naturally I will be reading plenty of Japanese books between now and January! I’ve started with a series on Matsuo Basho’s “Oku no Hosomichi” (The Narrow Road to the Deep North, although the title is sometimes translated otherwise). My series is not really a review as such – I don’t think I’m in the position to judge the work of such a master – but is more about my reaction to the work, its context, places involved, etc. The first entry in the series is here https://tsundokubookcase.wordpress.com/2016/09/21/narrow-road-part-1/


  16. Hi as the one above is about Japan as a nation I thought I’d chuck this one in & reference it as Japan via its soul.
    To Live
    I wonder if people know
    that there are several layers in the water?
    Fish deep in it and duckweed drifting on its surface
    bathe in different lights.
    That makes them various colored.
    That gives them shadows.
    I gather up pearls on a pavement.
    I live inside a phantom forest;
    upon notes of music scattered over the strings of my being.
    I live in hollows of drops that trickle upon snow;
    in damp ground of morning where liverwort opens.
    I live upon a map of the past and future.
    I have forgotten the color my eyes were yesterday.
    But what things my eyes saw yesterday
    my fingers realize
    because what eyes saw was by hands
    patted like touching the bark of a beech tree.
    O I live upon sensations blown about by wind.

    Makoto Ooka



    1. Well, that’s a good question. Usually it begins in June and runs through January. So, you still have time this month if there’s something particular that you want to read. I’m glad you’re interested in Japanese literature with me; it’s such a beautiful “genre”.

      Liked by 1 person

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