Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: 気になってる人が男じゃなかった // Next 葬送のフリーレン, then ウスズミの果て

Alright, at the risk of stealing @seanblue’s thunder…


(The Mysterious Town Beyond the Mist)


During the summer holidays, six-year-old Rina is sent on her own to stay in the village where her father stayed as a child. Getting off the train, the townspeople are only half convinced that her destination, the valley of mist, even exists. Following their uncertain directions she eventually finds her way, and her experiences over the summer with the eccentric residents help her to grow in confidence.

Winner of the 1974 Kodansha Award for New Writers of Children’s Literature.


Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan - click the white 試し読み button for a preview

Personal Opinion

This story apparently inspired elements of Spirited Away (the actual plot is totally different) so it might be interesting from that perspective, and it was well-received at the time of publication (admittedly a while ago!).

It’s aimed at children so might be light on kanji, but that’s hard to avoid and can actually improve your hiragana parsing ability. It also features some dialectal speech which you can see in the sample pages - this can make looking up vocab trickier, but is hopefully something we’d get used to quickly.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club


  • Interesting if minor link with Spirited Away
  • A full book that’s still short enough for this club
  • Cute illustrations!


  • It would be a longer pick; probably 16-17 weeks
  • Similar to most children’s books, it probably has light kanji usage
  • Some dialectal speech


First Six Pages of Chapter One

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters