Advanced Japanese Book Club // Now reading: 海辺のカフカ

Aaah. :heart:

I never played the 2nd game (I don’t think I finished the 1st, come to think of it - my PS2’s somewhere in storage so it’s a bit inconvenient to get back into :sweat_smile:) but I loved what I did play of it. The concept, the gameplay - I suppose the only bit relevant to this book is the concept and story, which -

I love you for even suggesting this. I wasn’t aware these existed. :heart: I’ve seen a lot of comics for games, but now I see I need to do some more research. :blush:

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Aaah, another fan!! ^o^

I’ll admit, the books came to mind because while volumes 1 and 2 are in English, it’s looking less and less likely we’ll see the last three books translated. I bought vol. 3 digitally, but have honestly been a bit afraid to start it. :eyes: I figure if there’s enough interest here and we decide to read it, that’ll be the motivation I need to read through the rest of the series.

There are other SMT-related novels out there as well; could be fun to suggest the original Digital Devil Story books the first games were based off of, here or in the Intermediate club.

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No translation being available looks like a perfectly good reason to read it in Japanese to me! :smiley: So… you’d start the 1st volume with the club it it got chosen? And then the 3rd? I got a bit confused there. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t know how big the fan base is here (especially the older games (or, well, anything before Persona 3 I suppose) are niche, especially mainline SMT, but we also have an above average number of people interested in Japanese games in general, oviously), but I’d definitely be interesting in finding out what inspired these games. We’ll see how much interest there is in the general club. ^^

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Whoops, I wasn’t clear, haha. If the book’s eventually picked, I’d read them in order, 1, 2, 3… If it’s not, then I might just re-read books one and two in English and try the third in Japanese. I believe book #3 deals more with story that happens before the main events of books 1,2, 4, and 5, so it might not actually be a bad place to start.

Thankfully these books don’t really require any outside knowledge or interest in the games. If you like high school students unleashing demons on their classmates, etc., you’re good to go. :+1:

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Thanks for tagging me, @Azmo! I haven’t been active lately (not even passive, heh) and haven’t read a lot recently, so I’m definitely interested.

Several of the suggestions sound appealing. 雪国 has been the #1 of the “classics” and I’ve wanted to read it for a long time now. Reading something from Murakami was also on my 2020 to-do list, so that’d be 一石二鳥.

I’ll also have a suggestion coming in a bit.

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風立ちぬ (The Wind Rises)

Author: 堀辰雄 (Hori Tatsuo)
Year: 1938

Summary

Summary

The Wind Has Risen (風立ちぬ – Kaze Tachinu) is a Japanese novel by Hori Tatsuo, written between 1936–37. It is set in a tuberculosis sanitarium in Nagano, Japan. The plot follows a main character identified only with the pronoun “I” as he takes care of his fiancée, and then wife, Setsuko, who has been diagnosed with the disease, deciding to stay with her until her death.

The main character meditates about life and death as he sees her beloved’s condition deteriorating, finally moving with her to a sanatorium surrounded by beauty, and finally discovering that just like the wind rises he can still keep living after her death through the strong bond of their love.

Length: 110 pages
Category: short & suitable for “deep reading”

Availability

Free on Amazon, aozora.jp and other places

Personal Opinion

Hori Tatsuo is a beloved author in Japan. I’m not familiar with his writings, but I think his works have a very poetic melancholy to them I imagine I’ll find very appealing.

This novella is fairly short and not overly hard to read. I think reading it together will help us to notice small details or historic/cultural backgrounds we might miss if we just read it casually by ourselves.

The book also partly inspired the eponymous Studio Ghibli movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. While the movie is no adaption and mixes things up quite a bit, I’m curious about the similarities.

Pros

  • very short (novella-sized)
  • free
  • beautiful language
  • famous classic
  • gentle (?) introduction to the melancholic appeal often found in Japanese literature
  • tons of material background material available (not sure how much in English, though)

Cons

  • occasionally dated language & kanji usage (e.g. 唯 for ただ and 其処 for そこ)

Pictures/Sample

In HTML format here: https://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/001030/files/4803_14204.html

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

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Hey, welcome back :slight_smile:

image

Now that explains a lot…

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Busted! :laughing:

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I feel like my criteria for what constitutes what level of effort have changed a bit this past week, haha. Maybe I should read through the sample pages again…

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Title drop!

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It might be because it was late, but a bunch of sentences didn’t click. I could still follow the gist, though. I really hesitated about putting “moderate difficulty” though, since I had just told @seanblue to do that in such a situation :upside_down_face: but at the same time, it’s not on the same level as stuff on which I voted “moderate difficulty”, sooo… つい.

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Has anyone read 銀河鉄道の夜? It’s in the public domain, including versions that have been updated for the kana reforms (as far as I can tell). The first page is pretty straightforward, but I haven’t gone beyond that to see if it gets more difficult. It’s also pretty short. Does anyone have any interest in that or know if it would belong in the easy or hard category overall?

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I have read it in English and a bit of the Japanese version a few years ago. I’ve also read a couple of other stories by Miyazawa. Since they are aimed at children, they are generally easy to read it terms of grammar. But outdated kanji usage is common (might not apply to all versions) and they use a bunch of words and expressions you probably won’t find in contemporary literature (also some dialect stuff iirc).

Miyazawa’s style can also be somewhat… cryptic? His stories generally aren’t the straightforward kind, it’s hard to describe. Weird things happen and may be treated as normal – I don’t think it’s a good comparison, but I sometimes got similar vibes from Through the Looking-Glass. So it’s often more of a style thing than the language itself.

I’m a big fan of Miyazawa’s works and wrote a bit about them when I visited his lovely hometown Hanamaki last year. There are also a couple of competent anime adaptions. Night on the Galactic Railroad’s influence on Japanese pop culture is huge, so I’d recommend reading it for that reason alone.

I think I’d be interested to read it again.

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Heh, I almost visited Hanamaki last year, but in the end I just wound up sticking with Hiraizumi. Perhaps another time.

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I definitely recommend it! I loved that place and they really love their Kenji. A really idyllic town that’s filled to the brim with tributes and references to Miyazawa’s works.

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And also wanko soba. :slightly_smiling_face:

How do you get around town, though? I basically came to the conclusion that I’d have to rent a car (which is one reason I went to Hiraizumi instead).

I used the buses and it worked fairly well. But I misread the timetable and missed my last bus home from the museum – which is in a fairly remote place, so I had to walk a few kilometers to reach the next train station. :sweat_smile: (Discovered some nice places that way, though!) But buses should be generally reliable during the day until early evening at the very least.

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We already have 15 nominations :astonished:
(4 of which are missing from the OP; I should at least add mine :upside_down_face:)

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新版 古文書用語辞典 (New Edition Dictionary of Classical Japanese)

Author: 佐藤 孝之 他1名 (よみがぜ んぜんわか
らない いちめいです)
Year: 2012

Summary

Summary

説明

一部戦国期を含む近世初頭から明治10年ごろまでの古文書にあらわれる語彙を精選・収載。類書中最大の一万二〇〇〇余の収録語数。文例にはわかりやすい現代語訳付き。八〇〇ページを超えるボリュームを、机上で使いやすいサイズに凝縮。

Length: 877 pages
Category: Long & suitable for “beachside leisure”

Availability

30,800 yen on Amazon.jp

Personal Opinion

While the author tends towards more old-fashioned language and often uses more complicated words than the reader may find necessary, helpful definitions and illustrations help the reader through this scintillating tale.

Clear breakup into different sections makes for stimulating reading with constant changes of topics and fast pacing. At times, the plot feels somewhat difficult to follow. However, careful reading is rewarded.

While I have not read any of this author’s other works, I can imagine that they would be equivalently verbose. The unnatural level of fascination with obscure words and the overall disinterest in character arcs or plot development provides the reader the glimpse of what a true post post post post post modern novel can achieve given true dedication to one’s vision. Overall, I think that this could be a very powerful group read.

Pros

  • lots of neat words
  • clear definitions neatly added in the book to aid the reader throught the story
  • beautiful language
  • beautiful typesetting
  • provocative rethinking of literature in modern times
    *Only 38,000 yen

Cons

  • 30,800 yen
  • minimal plot and character development
  • difficult words
  • too short for my tastes

Pictures/Sample

N/A

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

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Come on now.

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