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

Buying Mittens / Gon, the Little Fox (Japanese masterpieces to read by age 10)


Natively: Level 22


5 short fairy tales for children written by 新美 南吉 (Niimi Nankichi):

  • 手袋を買いに (Buying Mittens): When a cold winter comes to the forest, a little fox awakens one morning to the magic of a first snow-fall. His romp in the snow is cut short, however, when his cold, wet paws turn peony colored. What he needs, his mother decides, are some woolen mittens the size of his little paws. And so begins an overnight journey into the village where humans live…
  • ごん狐 (Gon, the Little Fox): Gon, a mischievous little fox, loves to cause trouble… but one day realizes that one of his pranks had gone a bit too far.
  • 花のき村と盗人たち (Hananoki Village and the Thieves)
  • 決闘 (Duel)
  • でんでんむしのかなしみ (The Sorrow of the Snail)


Physical: Amazon | CD Japan
Digital: Kindle

Personal Opinion

A while ago I stumbled upon ごん狐, which turned out to be the first story that I read in Japanese that I liked so much that I gave it 5/5 stars on Natively. Despite being a fairy tale for children, neither the writing style nor the content felt childish to me at all.

Since then I’ve been wanting to read other stories by 新美 南吉. And because I’m also a sucker for cute art, this book that collects ごん狐 and four other of his short stories seems like a perfect choice for me!

Pros and Cons


  • Extremely cute art (see “Additional pages” :fox_face: ).
  • The stories are not connected, so starting late or only reading one or two stories with the club is not a problem.
  • Japanese kids read ごん狐 in elementary school literature classes.
  • …but despite being written for children, at least ごん狐 was very enjoyable for adult me.
  • Full furigana.


  • Not all stories are exactly happy.
  • Some language is a bit old-fashioned.
  • A few words usually written in kanji were written in kana in ごん狐, so it’s possible the same is true for this book.

Trigger Warnings (major spoilers)

  • death


First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 1 - No effort at all
  • 2 - Minimal effort
  • 3 - Moderate effort
  • 4 - Substantial effort
  • 5 - So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know

0 voters