It’s time to begin thinking about the Japanese Literature Challenge 13

One of the greatest joys of blogging, for me, is the opportunity to share Japanese literature with one another. Judging by the inquiries I begin receiving in November and December, it appears that many bloggers who remember it, as well as some who have heard of it, are also eager to begin again.

The idea began in 2006, when ‘challenges’ were quite common in the blogging world. They gave an opportunity to meet like-minded readers and to participate in reading endeavors that thrilled us all. To make this event less of a challenge, and more of a pleasure, I decided that all we needed to do was read at least one work of literature, originally written in Japanese, and review it on our blogs. Now there is the broader impact of social media with Twitter and Instagram, and so those platforms are welcome, too. The idea is, take January through March to read as much Japanese literature as you would like, and tell us about what you read.

When I put up an official welcome post, I will specify the hashtags we should use (how about #JapaneseLitChallenge13?) on social media, and a place where you can leave a link to your reviews.

Some of the books that I plan on reading are:

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage International). This novel was sent to my by dear Silvia a few months ago, and it is one of the few by Ishiguro I have not yet read.

Another novel I plan to read was just sent to me yesterday: The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda (Bitter Lemon Press). It won the 59th Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel, and it will be published on January 16, 2020 in the UK (February 15, 2020 in the US).

I also have hopes to read The Makioka Sisters by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, and The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue.

If you are looking for titles, here is a list of books read from years past: suggested titles for Japanese literature. It is, of course, only a jumping off place and by no means complete. And, as this is simply a “begin thinking about it” post, I welcome any ideas you have to incorporate this time around. A read-along title? A favorite work of yours? A dedicated place for reviews such as I used to use in 2013? Please feel free to let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below, and know that I welcome your participation in January.

67 thoughts on “It’s time to begin thinking about the Japanese Literature Challenge 13

  1. Bellezza, thank you for this wonderful post. Your books look tempting. I have been thinking about this challenge as well, although I have not been posting much. I should like to get a copy of Convenience Store Woman, if it’s available in paperback, to read and review for this challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was so looking forward to this challenge 🙂 I read the Aosawa Murders a couple of weeks ago, and I’m really curious to see what others think of it. I’ll definitely start thinking of my challenge reading list sooner rather than later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad you’ve already read the Aosawa Murders! Looking forward to talking about it with you, as well as seeing the rest of your list. It’s really nice to have you in for another round again, Akylina.


  3. I would love to participate in your challenge this year – great poster for it, too! At some point I would love to read The Makioka Sisters and The Hunting Gun, but maybe not for the next three months. I’ll probably start with Yukio Mishima and his Thirst for Love.

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  4. I’m one of those looking forward to this challenge. I’ll try to read as many Japanese titles as possible, and blog and post about them using the suggested tag.

    I hope you get to read The Artist and also The Makioka Sisters. But anything you read, I’m always looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. The cover of The Aosawa Murders is arrestingly beautiful. I love the pictures you take of your books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Silvia, you are one of the main reasons I have decided to carry on with the Japanese Literature Challenge 13. I have almost dropped the ball with blogging, and I have not even finished Moby Dick yet. (!) I’m not sure what happened to my interest in reading in general, but I suspect this will renew much of my passion for literature. It was so wonderful to “meet” you and discuss Melville together.

      I will begin with An Artist From A Floating World, and then the Aosawa Murders…hopefully, I will get to The Makioka Sisters, too, as I recall we were going to have a chat about that.

      I’m looking forward to the books you will choose, and the discussions we will have.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Trust me, my reading life has shrank this second half of 2019 and I don’t know why. I too am taking your challenge as a motivation. I’m going to love the conversation on all we have read and will read.

        I will do a post soon once I look at your blog, my shelves, etc.

        Anytime I see your posts pop up I love it.


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  6. I always look forward to this part of the year in the blogging world. I love translated Japanese literature, and I love that there are so many of us out there in the world!

    Another thing I look forward to is your poster for the challenge. Always so beautiful.

    I’ve got plans for a Murakami this time. I’ve spent many years saving his work, and maybe this is the perfect opportunity to get to know his work again. I’m thinking maybe “Kafka on the Shore”. And maybe even “Kokoro”, it’s been on my TBR for ages.

    I’m glad you’ll be reading “An Artist of the Floating World”. I read that a while ago, and will be keen to know what you think about it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michelle, you are so sweet to revisit Japanese literature with me via the Challenge. Thank you for your faithfulness, and the compliment on the button. Japanese art is as beautiful as their writing!

      How I love Murakami. I have read Kafka on the Shore many times, and yet I am always eager to read it again. It is, perhaps, my favorite of all of his novels. And, it is so enigmatic, I never tire of finding some new insight (even if I’ve made it up myself).

      I gather many of us will have a chance to comment on An Artist of the Floating World, as so many of “you” have already read it.


      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never actually reread any of Murakami’s books so far. Except his running book, which, like you, I found new insight during my second reading. Maybe it’s a thing with Murakami, and maybe that’s why we love him so much.

        I’ve come to realise over the years that sometimes our taste in books change as we go through stuff in life, and I’m just curious if my appetite for Murakami has changed since. Am excited!

        Liked by 1 person

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  8. My day off work today & I can’t wait to trawl my bookshelves to see which books I’d like to fit into this challenge 🙂

    On an admin level, I’ve been thinking about my AusReadingMonth and how exhausted it leaves me by the end of Nov. Spotting your challenge again has prompted me to think about extending it into a 3 mnth event. Why did you choose 3 mnths as the length? And how do you feel at the end of each challenge? Just wondering…..


    • Brona! I’m so glad you’re going to join in!

      And, I have a question for you on an admin level. But first let me answer yours. I understand being exhausted after hosting a Challenge; I was especially so when I gave away prizes in the early years. Just keeping track of everyone’s links can be tricky.

      I did a 3 month challenge because I wanted it to be long enough to suit people’s needs. (Maybe the one month I hosted wouldn’t fit their schedule.) I also “required” one book because I didn’t want the challenge to be onerous, but doable. Usually, of course, people read many more than one.

      I used to have a dedicated site for the challenge when I was on the Blogspot platform. But, when I switched to WordPress, I thought it would be easier to keep everything connected to my blog. I’m not sure that it is (easier). Which leads me to ask about InLinkz which I see you use for the Moby Dick read-along.

      I signed up for a “link party”, got the URL, HTML, etc, but is that what you use for people to leave links? I’d value any input, and please know I would answer any questions if I didn’t above.


    • Welcome, Marian! I have a very small presence on Instagram, so I’m glad this Challenge came to your attention. An Artist in the Floating World will be my first novel in January, and it seems many people have already read it, so I look forward to the discussion which may occur. Thank you for visiting here and considering joining.


  9. I found out about your Japanese Lit Challenge from Silvia’s blog and so I hopped on over here to visit. I love this idea and would like to participate! I’m thinking over titles, but right now two have risen to the top: The Makioka Sisters (which I haven’t read) and re-reading The Remains of the Day. I was also considering A Pale View of Hills by Ishiguro but I’m thinking I will opt to re-read The Remains of the Day. For now, I think I will just focus on one title. Which makes me lean heavily towards The Makioka Sisters as my first read. I think a read-along for it would be great! Another title that has grabbed my interest that Silvia mentioned in her post is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami.


    • Hi, Karen! Trust our Silvia to be a good sharer of books, and I’m so glad you hoped over from her blog. Even better, that you will join us! Every year The Makioka Sisters is brought to my attention, and I have yet to read it. Perhaps 2020 will be the year I do. I think focusing on just one book is a good idea for you; we don’t want to turn joy into a job. And then, I do love The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles….that would be a lovely read, especially to discuss, as Murakami can be so ambiguous. At any rate, welcome!


  10. I’ve to think about this one. I want to do something different… maybe a Japanese novel which is turned into a film. Any suggestions? Speaking of which, I’ve a recommendation for you on my current post: A Hidden Life.


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    • I hope you do read one, an who knows? This could open a whole new passion for Japanese literature as it did with me when I began reading it years and years ago. It is great fun to share with others, too, as I find there can be many interpretations for just one book. The open quality ( no clear cut ending) is probably what appeals to me the most.

      Liked by 1 person

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  17. I will join this year. I read The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue around November last year and it was a very memorable experience that I blogged about it and started hoarding books by Japanese writers. I hope to read at least three books during the challenge. Happy New Year!


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