Rashomon and other Stories with Furigana (Japanese Edition)

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  1. Account Options
  2. Find the best price for books and DVDs
  3. Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text by Giles Murray
  4. 5 Ways to Discover Easy Japanese Short Stories, and Lots of Recommendations

This will also help you avoid accidentally buying the English version of a book you wanted in Japanese. There are several series designed for Japanese learners, the most famous of which is this one. The books are sold in sets of five, with an audio CD. The Extensive Reading Society of Japan also release their own series of graded readers. These are also sold in sets but you can get them individually as well.


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There are eight volumes and each volume contains five to seven stories and an audio CD. KC clip has released this series of 25 free online books you can read on their website, designed for learners. They look perfect for readers who are just starting out with reading in Japanese. I absolutely love this great series of books because the stories are intriguing and surprising, even for adult readers.


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Hoshi Shinichi, a very prolific author, is famous for stories that are just a few pages long. What do you like to read about? This Kindle book is written in all hiragana, making it a good choice for learners who are quite new to Japanese. A tale of reincarnation and attaining enlightenment and an understanding of identity through experience.

This beautifully illustrated book will allow even beginners to learn about traditional Japanese culture and values through folktales. Japan has a long and rich tradition of spooky stories. Personally, I find reading anything suspenseful motivates me to read more, so I gravitate toward mysteries and scary stories in my Japanese reading.

The book is aimed at 3rd and 4th grade elementary school students so should be a good choice for readers around JLPT N4-N3 level, and kanji are written with furigana. Enjoy a traditional Japanese ghost story. This bilingual Japanese reader is available on Kindle and should make the story accessible, even to learners who are new to Japanese.

For another easy read on Kindle, this collection for kids seems like a solid choice and is available outside of Japan. Lafcadio Hearn, who adopted the Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo, was born in Greece, but moved all around the world, settling in Japan in He became fluent in Japanese and wrote down many famous Japanese stories of ghosts and the paranormal, which are both part of his complete works on Kindle.

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Haruki Murakami is probably the most famous living Japanese author outside of Japan. His unique writing style and compelling insights into the human condition have lead to him becoming globally respected. Because his books are so popular, many of his works are cheaply available in English, making it possible to buy both English and Japanese books and use them as parallel texts, which broadens your study options.

Murakami also published a book only available in Japanese.

Japanese Literature - #3 Rashomon & Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa-Look inside

This book is aimed at older teenagers and would be suitable for high intermediate learners looking for engaging, well-written content. If you like J. D Salinger or Truman Capote , as well as Murakami, you may also enjoy the Japanese translations of their works he made. Murakami wrote four main short story collections worth seeking out for those at a high intermediate or advanced level in Japanese, though since he was a prolific writer, you may find many more as your level increases and you can search online in Japanese.

This book about the Kobe earthquake contains six short stories centered around people who, while not directly affected by the physical devastation of the quake, find their lives changed in its aftermath. A collection of 17 short stories, originally published in magazines. This compilation of short stories contains 24 stories, gathered from magazines and other publications.

His latest collection has just been released in English recently, but has been out since in Japan. There are seven short stories in this volume which, as the title suggests, is about men who lose the women they love. She died at the age of just 24 but wrote a number of short stories during her brief life. As her stories were written during the Meiji era, readers should expect to encounter some more archaic Japanese, making them a good challenge to take on for more advanced readers, or those who want to progress onto reading longer classical Japanese texts in their original forms.

Her complete works can be purchased in Japanese through Kindle. In addition, they also have every text with full furigana , a rough translation and a vocabulary list on their study guide pages, plus PDFs and MP3 audio files of every story. These stories are suitable for intermediate learners around JLPT N2 level, though because of the careful design of the site, lower level learners may enjoy trying to read them, too.

Hayashi Fumiko was a feminist, a bohemian and an author. Aside from bilingual starter books , translated works of authors you already love or those you find challenging in English, can be a good way to either challenge yourself or ease into reading Japanese through tackling a familiar text in a new language.

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Depending on your kanji and vocabulary level, his easier short stories are best suited to students around JLPT N4-N3 level. A definite nostalgia trip for those who grew up reading Roald Dahl. The greediest crocodile in the river is planning his lunch. This book has lots of adjectives, is easy to follow and the illustrations are so great that they elicit a lot of laughter from even the most cynical readers. This is a story about Billy, who dreams of opening a sweet shop in an abandoned building.

Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text by Giles Murray

After graduation, he taught briefly at the Naval Engineering School in Yokosuka, Kanagawa as an English language instructor, before deciding to devote his full efforts to writing. The story, based on a twelfth-century tale, was not well received by Akutagawa's friends, who criticized it extensively. It was also at this time that he started writing haiku under the haigo or pen-name Gaki.


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Akutagawa followed with a series of short stories set in Heian period , Edo period or early Meiji period Japan. These stories reinterpreted classical works and historical incidents. Akutagawa was a strong opponent of naturalism. In , Akutagawa interrupted his writing career to spend four months in China , as a reporter for the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun.

The trip was stressful and he suffered from various illnesses, from which his health would never recover. Shortly after his return he published Yabu no naka " In a Grove ", During the trip, Akutagawa visited numerous cities of southeastern China including Nanjing , Shanghai , Hangzhou and Suzhou. Akutagawa's stories were influenced by his belief that the practice of literature should be universal and can bring together western and Japanese cultures. This can be seen in the way that Akutagawa uses existing works from a variety of cultures and time periods and either rewrites the story with modern sensibilities or creates new stories using ideas from multiple sources.

Culture and the formation of a cultural identity is also a major theme in several of Akutagawa's works. In these stories, he explores the formation of cultural identity during periods in history where Japan was most open to outside influences. Most significantly his biological mother Fuku, from whom he worried about inheriting her mental illness.

Though he did not spend much time with Fuku he identified strongly with her, believing that if at any moment he might go mad life was meaningless.

What’s So Great About Japanese Short Stories?

His aunt Fuki played the most significant role in his upbringing. Fuki controlled much of Akutagawa's life, demanding much of his attention especially as she grew older.

5 Ways to Discover Easy Japanese Short Stories, and Lots of Recommendations

Conversely, men were often represented as the victims of such women, such as in Kesa to Morito "Kesa and Morito", , in which the leading female character attempts to control the actions of both her lover and husband. The final phase of Akutagawa's literary career was marked by his deteriorating physical and mental health. Much of his work during this period is distinctly autobiographical , some even taken directly from his diaries. Akutagawa argued that structure, how the story was told, was more important than the content or plot of the story, whereas Tanizaki argued the opposite.

Towards the end of his life, Akutagawa began suffering from visual hallucinations and anxiety over fear that he had inherited his mother's mental disorder. In he attempted suicide , together with a friend of his wife, but the attempt failed. He finally committed suicide by taking an overdose of Veronal , which had been given to him by Saito Mokichi on 24 July of the same year. Akutagawa wrote over short stories during his brief life. Japanese composer Mayako Kubo wrote an opera named Rashomon , based on Akutagawa's story.