Japanese Literature Challenge 16


Japanase Literature Challenge 16

#JapaneseLitChallenge16   #JapaneseLiterature

Thanks to DolceBelleza (@bellezzamjs) who has been organizing this challenge for many years! This is my 8th participation.
Click on the BEAUTIFUL logo to read more about it, to join us, and to read reviews as they will be posted.

The Challenge runs January-February 2023.
I was planning to read 6 books, but January is starting crazy busy this year, so not sure how well I’ll do with this. But anyway, as usual, I’m planning on reading more Japanese lit all year around.

📚 📚 📚

Here is my TBR (in chronological order) for this event – my recap, with links to my reviews when they become live.

This year, I have MOSTLY chosen classics, so they also count for my Classics Club’s 4th list.

The above were plans, and the result ends up quite different, with only 3 classics read, and 5 graphic novels/manga that were not on my radar originally!
I’m almost done listening to
I Am a Cat, and definitely planning on reading more Japanese Lit this year. I will add the titles below

  1. Shuna’s Journey (1983), by Hayao Miyazaki
  2. Hell Screen (1918), by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa review here below
  3. Okamoto Kidō: Master of the Uncanny (1931), by Okamoto Kidō
  4. Cat + Gamer #1, by Wataru Nadatani (2019) manga
  5. Cat + Gamer #2, by Wataru Nadatani (2019) manga
  6. Astra Lost in Space #1, by Kenta Shinohara (2016) manga
  7. Astra Lost in Space #2, by Kenta Shinohara (2016) manga
  8. The Hunting Gun (1949), by Yasushi Inoue


  1. I am a Cat (1905), by Natsume Soseki – currently listening
  2. The Honjin Murders (1946), by Seishi Yokomizo
  3. The Sound of the Mountain (1953), by Yasunari Kawabata

I had just read Hell Screen when I created this post, so I posted the review here:

Hell ScreenHell Screen, by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
First published in 1918
This edition:
Translation by Jay Rubin
58 pages
2/1/2011 by Penguin Group

I had already read In a Grove and Rashoumon by Akutagawa, but the two stories presented here are very different in style.
I think it was a great editor choice to actually put together in the same book these two short stories: Hell Screen and The Spider’s Thread.
They both deal with terrifying characters and hell, within the genre of old tales, legends, fantasy, and horror.

In Hell Screen, among stories related to the great Lord Horikawa, the author focuses on one in which we meet the very gifted artist Yoshihide. The problem is, to paint truthfully he needs live models, so for instance he doesn’t hesitate torturing servants to be able to paint people in pain. Then one day, Horikawa commissions him to paint a folding screen portraying scenes from the eight Buddhist hells. And the painter asks for a live scene of hell to be able to finish his painting in truth…

This was a rather terrifying story, with an expected outcome – it was easy to guess who was going to be burning in a carriage falling from the sky.
I actually didn’t know about the eight Buddhist hells. Some descriptions of sinners pertaining to all stations of life sounded very close to The Divine Comedy, or to paintings by Bosch!

In The Spider’s Thread, we start in Paradise, but from there we see a robber in hell: Kandata. He doesn’t seem to have Yoshihide’s repulsive characteristics, but we discover Kandata’s true nature when he’s given a chance to get out of hell.

It was interesting to discover a very different style in Akutagawa’s short stories.



30 thoughts on “Japanese Literature Challenge 16

  1. I think I have a copy of The Honjin Murders having seen it mentioned in last year’s Japanese reading challenge. i was hoping to read several Japanese books this year but the book I ended up with for the classics club spin is rather long so I don’t know how much more I can squeeze in

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Would have liked to join, but have far too many books that I have to read in January. I still want to read more Japanese authors this years. Thanks for the tips above.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Usually it lasts 3 months, but just 2 this year. If you love Japanese lit, it’s definitely the place to look at. You can also check the books read the previous years, and you are going to egt an insane Japanese TBR, lol


  4. I’ve been on a kind of Japan reading and watching spree this week. I read the Honjin Murders (blogged about it and others of his books), and I re-issued one of my former posts on a work by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (I’ve read Hell Screen in the past). Kawabata was one of the first Japanese authors I ever read, many years ago, who hooked me on Japanese lit. So your list is very appealing to me.

    best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Neat to see that indeed we tend to read similar books, lol.
      So cool to see Kawabata hooked you on Japanese Lit.
      For me, that was Haruki Murakami. I remember exactly how it started: I was a computer assistant at my public library. One day, when I went to start my shift, my previous co-worker still had the book she was reading out on her desk, a massvie book. Of course I asked what it was, and it was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I didnt’t start by this one, but Murakami did hook me on Japanese Lit, culture, and now Japanese language


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