Japanese Literature Challenge 11

Hello, lovely readers,

Japanese Literature Challenge is hosted by Dolce Bellezza since 2006. The event traditionally runs from June through January, and there is only one requirement: to read at least one work of Japanese literature in this six month period. Here you can find a suggested reading list.

After failing badly to complete my challenge last year – I did not finished the Tale of Genji  on time -, I would like to undertake a less ambitious challenge this year. I’ll try to read at least one of the following titles:

  • The Waiting Years, by Fumiko Enchi (Onna Zaka, 1949–1957, tr. John Bester)
  • Masks, by Fumiko Enchi (Onna Men,1958, tr. Juliet Winters Carpenter)
  • Floating Clouds, by Fumiko Hayashi (Ukigumo, 1951, tr. Lane Dunlop)
  • The Confessions of Lady Nijō, by Lady Nijō (1973, tr. Karen Brazell)
  • As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams: Recollections of a Woman in Eleventh-Century Japan, by Lady Sarashina (1975, tr. Ivan Morris)
  • The Tale of the Heike, by Anonymous (1990, tr. Helen Craig McCullough)
  • Japanese Nō Dramas (1992, tr. Royall Tyler)
  • The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse (2009, tr. Anthony Thwaite)
  • The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan, by Michitsuna no Haha (1989, tr. Edward G. Seidensticker)
  • The Sarashina diary: a woman’s life in eleventh-century Japan, by Sugawara no Takasue no Musume (2016, tr. Sonja Arntzen & Itō Moriyuki)
  • Women writers of Meiji and Taishō Japan: their lives, works and critical reception, 1868–1926, by Yukiko Tanaka (2000)
  • In the Shade of Spring Leaves: The Life and Writings of Higuchi Ichiyo, by Higuchi Ichiyo (1981, tr. Robert Lyons Danly)
  • Japanese Women Writers: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook, by Chieko Mulhern (1994)
  • The Izumi Shikibu Diary (1969, tr. Edwin Cranston)
  • Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan (1920, tr. Annie Shepley Omori and Kochi Doi)
  • Japanese women poets: an anthology (2008, tr. Hiroaki Sato)
  • The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (1990, tr. Jane Hirshfield & Mariko Aratani)
  • A Riot of Goldfish, by Kanoko Okamoto (Kingyo Ryōran, tr. J. Keith Vincent, 2010)
  • Toddler-hunting & Other Stories, by Taeko Kōno (1996, tr. Lucy North)
  • Tangled Hair,by Akiko Yosano (2012, tr. Dennis Maloney & Hide Oshiro)
  • River of Stars: Selected Poems of Yosano Akiko, by Yosano Akiko (1997, tr. Sam Hamill & Keiko Matsui Gibson)
  • The Sound of the Wind: the Life and works of Uno Chiyo, by Rebecca L. Copeland (1992)
  • The Story of a Single Woman, by Uno Chiyo (1992, tr. Phyllis Birnbaum)
  • Five Faces of Japanese Feminism: Crimson and Other Works, by Ineko Sata (2016, tr. Samuel Perry)
  • Chiyo-ni: Woman Haiku Master, by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi (1996)
  • From Trinity to Trinity, by Kyōko Hayashi (2010, tr. Eiko Otake)
  • Rabbits, Crabs, Etc.: Stories by Japanese Women (1984, tr. Phyllis Birnbaum)
  • Modern Japanese Stories: An Anthology (2005, tr. Ivan Morris)

These are either books I own, or books avaiable on my local library, mostly by or about Japanese women writers.

And what are you planning to read? I’d love to get more recommendations of Japanese female authors! 🙂

Yours truly,


Ikenaga Yasunari

7 thoughts on “Japanese Literature Challenge 11

  1. Wow, what a great list! Thanks for sharing it. I’ve sadly not read that many Japanese women writers, and most of the ones I’ve read have been modern writers like Natsuo Kirino and Hiromi Kawakami (both I’ve enjoyed though!). I actually bought The Tale of Genji not too long ago and it’s high on my priority to at least start reading it soon. As far as general recommendations go – I definitely recommend The Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai! It’s quite strange but in a wonderful way.


    1. Thank you 🙂 Most of the Japanese female authors I’ve read are contemporary. I have the impression that the classic ones are more discussed about solely in academia, which is sad. I enjoyed the poetic references in Genji, but was not drawn to Genji himself as a character – so that was my main problem with the book! I’ve never read Kawakami nor Dazai, so I’ll check if my library has any of them. I like strange books 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, it does seem like it! They’re often very expensive too (the classic works by Japanese women writers)/barely in print. I’ll have to see how I get on with it then! Hope you enjoy Kawakami and Dazai 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so glad that you are participating again this year! (No worries about last year, I didn’t read a fraction of what I had hoped to read myself!) You have quite an ambitious and compelling list here, the only one of which I own is The Tale of the Heike. I know I will enjoy your thoughts on whatever it is that you read. Thank you for signing on, for writing this post, and for spreading the word. xo


  3. Both The Waiting Years and Masks are stunning reads, I can’t recommend them enough, and if you enjoy strange reads and haven’t already read Kobo Abe then he’s a bit of a must read. Yoko Ogawa is also pretty special. I love the idea of a Japanese reading challenge, I have a couple I haven’t got around to yet and I’m sure I can manage to sneak at least one of them in before January.


    1. I’ll definitely get into those two, then 🙂 Never read Kobo Abe yet, but mean to do it soon. Which book do you recomend? Ogawa I have read and enjoyed. And please do join in the challenge! I’ll be waiting for your reviews 🙂


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.