Old and Very Old Stories from Japan

Latest Release

Ebook cover of The Nonserial Murders by Ango Sakaguchi

Click for the first chapter Ten Million Vulgar Human Relationships.

When Friends Gather, the Killing Begins

In post-war Japan, a circle of literary and artistic men and women gathers in the mountain villa of Utagawa Kazuma to spend the summer. Before they've unpacked their trunks, the killing begins.

Ango Sakaguchi published this mystery novel as a series in Nihon Shosetsu and challenged the readers to deduce the murderer and awarded prizes.

Translator's Note: Many reviews by Japanese readers of the original remark on the large number of characters and their confusing relationships. I thought about including a chart of some of the major relationships, but decided against it because it's a part of the reading experience. Read with paper and pencil handy, especially the first chapter.

Buy The Nonserial Murders ebook at Amazon
Buy the paperback at Amazon

A short story mystery by Ango Sakaguchi to read now: The Spiritualist Murder Incident.

Audiobook cover of The New Chushingura by Eiji Yoshikawa

Click image for first two chapters.

Book cover of The New Chushingura by Eiji Yoshikawa

Click image for audio sample.
Read by Mike, the computer voice. (14 hours, 3 minutes)

A Dish Best Served Cold

The true story begins with the bloody attack on Chief Master of Ceremonies Lord Kira by Lord Asano, the daimyo of Ako, in the shogun's castle and ends with the seppuku, ritual suicides, of forty-seven of Lord Asano's ronin. Eiji Yoshikawa uses facts and fibs in his retelling.

Buy ebook at Amazon
Buy the ebook at Google Play
Buy the paperback at Amazon
Buy the paperback at Barnes and Noble
$9.99 for audiobook.
Buy audiobook at Google Play

Graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji Temple

Sengakuji Temple

Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo

Layout of the graves of the 47 ronin

Layout of the graves of the 47 ronin at Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo

Photo of the graves of the 47 ronin

The graves of the 47 ronin at Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo

3 Shorts Online

Three short stories by Yoshikawa Eiji related to the 47 ronin story. The first one takes place before the events in the book and the other two, during.

Book cover of Taira no Masakado by Eiji Yoshikawa

Click image for the first chapter The Prince and the Slave Girl.

The First Samurai

Taira no Masakado was an ill-fated, reluctant warrior and a bit too naive.

Buy Taira no Masakado at Amazon

Book cover of Uesugi Kenshin by Eiji Yoshikawa

Click image for the first chapter Signs of Life.

Dragon vs Tiger

Uesugi Kenshin, the Dragon of Echigo, fought five battles at Kawanakajima against his rival Takeda Shingen, the Tiger of Kai. This fourth battle, which took place in the 16th century during the Warring States era, is captured by the great historical novelist, Eiji Yoshikawa.

Buy Uesugi Kenshin at Amazon

Book cover of Kuroda Josui by Eiji Yoshikawa

Click image for the first chapter The Beehive.

Loyalty or Revenge

Kuroda Josui, known throughout the novel as Kuroda Kanbei, was a chief strategist and trusted adviser to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the second major unifier of the Japan of the Warring States (Sengoku) period. This novel imagines seven critical years in the first half of his life before he converted to Christianity (for a short time) and changed his name to Josui, and before Japan found peace.

Buy Kuroda Josui at Amazon

Here's a translation of the short story The Red Braziers by Eiji Yoshikawa about the Ako ronin, the 47 ronin.

Expert eyes see the whole board (妙手の眼ハ盤中に普し) by Utagawa Toyonobu (歌川豊宣)

diptych by Utagawa Toyonobu

Left: Kuroda Kanbei (aka Kuroda Yoshitaka aka Kuroda Josui), Right: Hashiba Hideyoshi (aka Toyotomi Hideyoshi)

Book cover of Home to Tsugaru by Osamu Dazai

Click image for an excerpt about Aomori.

In 1944, Osamu Dazai returned to Tsugaru where he was born and raised to see the people and places that made him and to find the Tsugaru native to model his life on.

Buy Home to Tsugaru at Amazon

For pictures and maps related to this book, look at the photo album Tsugaru by Dazai Osamu. A ton of pictures of his family is found on this Japanese blog (scroll to the bottom and click left << for the next entry). The first page shows his home, parents, and his aunt (mother's younger sister).

Book cover of The Golden Virgin

Click image for chapter one.

These are the first ten stories about the police detective Zenigata Heiji of Edo, now Tokyo. In the first story, Heiji witnesses the kidnapping of Shizu, the young lady who ignites love in him, and must rescue her from a satanic cult. In the last story, he must save the same woman, now his bride, when she is kidnapped on their wedding day. In the other tales, he confronts the challenges of other kidnappings, robberies, and, of course, murders.

Buy The Golden Virgin at Amazon

Book cover of Ango's Detective Casebook No. 1 by Ango Sakaguchi

Click image to download PDF of chapter one.

Ango's Detective Casebook No. 1

Meiji Era, Japan -- Toranosuke, the owner of a dojo for swordfighting, is also an amateur detective. He brings murder cases too baffling for the police to The Great Detective, Yuki Shinjuro, a handsome and brilliant man who has traveled to the West. Tora recruits the genius Katsu Kaishu to unravel the mystery in his attempt to outwit Shinjuro. After his investigation, Shinjuro unveils the murderer at the scene of the crime. In the final scene, Kaishu consoles himself for being wrong as usual, and Tora never loses faith in him.

Two old Japanese tales are mentioned in passing in this book. One is Crackling Mountain (かちかち山: Kachi-Kachi Yama) in The Mystery of the Demon Religion, and the other is Hanasaka Jijii (花咲かじじい) in The Secret of the Clock Tower. Read Crackling Mountain or Hanasaka Jijii now.

Buy Ango's Detective Casebook No. 1 at Amazon

Book cover of Ango's Detective Casebook No. 2 by Ango Sakaguchi

Click image to download PDF of chapter one.

Ango's Detective Casebook No. 2

This casebook completes the classic murder mysteries solved by the Gentleman Detective, Yuki Shinjuro, with a bit of assistance from Toranosuke, Hananoya, and Officer Furuta.

Buy Ango's Detective Casebook No. 2 at Amazon

Paperback cover - Ango's Detective Casebook No. 2 by Ango Sakaguchi
Book cover of Bored Vassal

Click image to download PDF of chapter one.

A samurai warrior is cursed to live in a time of peace. Saotome Mondonosuke is a samurai plagued by boredom. He is not a ronin, but a direct vassal with wealth, a license to kill, and a frightening but captivating scar.

This book contains all eleven stories in the series 旗本退屈男 (Hatamoto Taikutsu Otoko) by 佐々木味津三 (Sasaki Mitsuzo), serialized in the monthly literary magazine 文芸倶楽部 (Bungei Kurabu) beginning April 1929. These stories formed the basis of the popular Japanese movie series of the same name [The Idle Vassal in English].

Buy The Bored Vassal at Amazon

Book cover of The Story of a Pet Dog by Osamu Dazai

Click image to download a PDF sample.

Is a dog man's best friend? This short story presents one man's struggle with that question.

Join mailing list to get for free

Book cover of Pandora's Box by Dazai Osamu or Osamu Dazai
Click image for sample PDF.

Buy Pandora's Box at Amazon

Book cover of Goodbye by Dazai Osamu or Osamu Dazai
Click image for sample PDF.

Buy Goodbye at Amazon

Dazai Osamu's major works were dark, but he also wrote humorous and uplifting stories. These books are two of his lighthearted tales. Pandora's Box details the experiences of a twenty-year-old youth in a quirky sanatorium in post-war Japan.

Breaking up may be hard to do, but it can be funny. Goodbye was his unfinished last work about a man's machinations to break up with his dozen or so lovers. Before completing this work, he committed suicide with his lover; the two are pictured on the cover.

Book cover of Pandora's Box (with Goodbye) paperback

Get paperback at Amazon

Photo of Dazai Osamu

Autumn 1947

Dazai Osamu (1909-1948) was a major 20th-century Japanese author of fiction. His most popular novels were The Setting Sun and No Longer Human.

The online DAZAI Museum gives a nice overview of his life, family, literary works, and places associated with him and his works.

Dazai Osamu also makes an appearance as a character in the Japanese manga series, and later anime series, Bungo Stray Dogs (文豪ストレイドッグス).

Seven-year-old Dazai Osamu (second from left)

Dazai Osamu or Osamu Dazai as a 7-year-old child
Click image to enlarge.

Handwritten Manuscript of Goodbye

Handwritten Manuscript of Goodbye by Dazai Osamu or Osamu Dazai
Click image to enlarge.
Source of Dazai photos: Dazai Osamu, Dazai Osamu, Bunchosha, Tokyo, 1948.
Book cover of The Kanji Starter Pack by Shelley Marshall, Asataro Goto

Click image for a screenshot.

Learn all 80 kanji learned by first graders in Japan and 100 of the kanji learned by second graders. The stroke order to write each kanji and its Chinese and Japanese pronunciations are presented. You can learn fewer than 200 kanji and nearly 2,000 kanji-compound words containing them!

Buy The Kanji Starter Pack at Amazon

Click to download practice sheets (PDF): one for 50 kanji characters and the other for 160 characters.

Click to download a kanji chart of all the kanji Japanese students are supposed to learn in grades 1 to 6.

Kanji Flashcards

Click for Hiragana Refresher

The Emperor's New Clothes + 3 by Shelley Marshall (Editor)

Click image for a screenshot.

This book has four stories. Each Japanese sentence comes with a glossary and the English sentence. The full Japanese and English text of the stories is included.

Buy The Emperor's New Clothes +3 at Amazon

Book cover of Terror by Junichiro Tanizaki

Click image for an PDF sample.

What are the odds? The train isn't going to crash. I'm not going to die. An imagined terror is often far worse than reality. In this story, a man must face his terror of a simple train ride.

Buy Terror at Amazon

Book cover of The Beautiful Dog by Hayashi Fumiko

Click image for an PDF sample.

A pet dog once had a wonderful home on the scenic Lake Nojiri in Japan. His best friend and master left one day, but his unconditional love for his master never died.

Buy The Beautiful Dog at Amazon

Photo of Hayashi Fumiko

Hayashi Fumiko circa 1940

Book cover of The Adventure Begins: Hinomaru Hatanosuke by Nakajima Kikuo

Before Astro Boy, the hero of the children of Japan was Hinomaru Hatanosuke, a samurai teenager, created by Nakajima Kikuo, a teacher and a manga artist. This series ran as a serial from January 1935 to September 1941 in the boys' magazine Shonen Club (少年倶楽部).

Grab The Adventure Begins now. It's free!
Grab Friend or Foe. It's free!
Grab The Journey Home. It's free!

The journey begins in The Adventure Begins: Hinomaru Hatanosuke, continues in Friend or Foe: Hinomaru Hatanosuke, and ends in The Journey Home: Hinomaru Hatanosuke.

Here is the original manga 日の丸旗之助.

The result of an evening spent with iMovie

Click image for free PDF of a few chapters.

Photo of Oshikawa Shunro with signature

Oshikawa Shunro

Oshikawa Shunro is credited as one of the fathers of science fiction in Japan. The Undersea Warship series was his popular series of six adventure novels. This novel, written while he was a student, was the first in that series.

Get e-book of the entire exciting tale from Amazon and Smashwords Thanks.

Undersea Warship

Buy the paperback of A Fantastic Tale of Island Adventure: The Undersea Warship at Amazon

Book cover of Night on the Milky Way Railroad by Miyazawa Kenji

Click image for free PDF of a few chapters.

Despite the early death of Miyazawa Kenji and only an unfinished manuscript left behind, Night on the Milky Way Railroad has become a children's classic in Japan. A boy, Giovanni, has few friends at school, a sick mother, and a father working far from home. One festival night, he is swept onto a train traveling the Milky Way and into a fantastic world.

Buy Night on the Milky Way Railroad at Amazon

Book cover of Whitey by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Click image to download the story.

Whitey, a happy dog, witnessed misfortune and it changed his life. He was driven from his home. Will he ever go home again?

Read now!

Photo of Akutagawa Ryunosuke as a boy

Akutagawa Ryunosuke as a boy

Picture from Shunpuku by Akutagawa Ryunosuke, published by Shunyoudou, 1923.
Book cover of BASEBALL by Masaoka Shiki

Download a sample PDF

Masaoka Shiki was a celebrated haiku poet and an avid baseball fan. This series of newspaper articles helped to introduce the game of baseball to the Japanese people.

Buy Baseball at Amazon

Book cover of Recollections of Vitamin Research by Suzuki Umetaro

Download the PDF

Take your vitamins! Suzuki Umetaro discovered an important one, Vitamin B. He is one of the venerated Three Taros of RIKEN.

Read online!


So Many Books, So Little Time

Here are some authors and scenes from books I may translate... someday.

Tanizaki Junichiro circa 1916
Photo of Junichiro Tanizaki
Tanizaki Junichiro circa 1927
Photo of Junichiro Tanizaki
Amakusa Shiro
Amakusa Shiro
Scene from Kikigakisho: A Second Blind Man's Tale
Scene from A Second Blind Man's Tale
Kunikida Doppo and handwritten manuscript
Photo of Kunikida Doppo
Yoshikawa Eiji circa 1935
Photo of Yoshikawa Eiji
Umon Torimono-cho
Sasaki Mitsuzo
This story set in old Edo follows the adventures of a detective called Umon.
Zenigata Heiji Torimono Hikae
Nomura Kodo
Zenigata Heiji is another detective in old Edo. He flicks coins at the bad guys.
Tange Sazen
Hayashi Fubou
Our hero Tange Sazen is a fictional swordsman with one eye and one arm.
Amakusa Bishonenroku
Sasaki Mitsuzo
An imagined record of Amakusa Shiro, leader of the Shimabara Rebellion.
聞書抄: 第二盲目物語
Kikigakisho: Daini Moumoku Monogatari
Tanizaki Junichiro
A continuation of Tanizaki's A Blind Man's Tale.
Gonin Onna
Mayama Seika
The tragic tales of five amorous women. Taruya Osen. Yaoya Oshichi. Onatsu [and Seijuro]. Osan [and Moemon]. Oman [and Gengobee].
Kunikida Doppo
A diary of the the author's stay in Musashi Province.
Kennan Jonan
Yoshikawa Eiji
The title says it all: Sword Trouble, Woman Trouble. This was Yoshikawa Eiji's first novel.

Natsume Soseki Before the Mustache

5 or 6 years old
Photo of Natsume Soseki - five or six years old
11 or 12 years old
Photo of Natsume Soseki - eleven or twelve years old
19 years old
Photo of Natsume Soseki - nineteen years old
24 years old
Photo of Natsume Soseki - twenty-four years old
Click to enlarge.

All photos are from 漱石全集 The Complete Works of Soseki.

Today I will learn Japanese!!

Photo of Yeti

Yeti says, "Thanks for visiting jpopbooks.com."

Mail comments to Yeti or Shelley