Contemporary Japanese Literature

Modern Japan fascinates Westerners. Its industrial and technological advances challenge us. Its ancient traditions and venerable culture intrigue us. We wonder how a people living in an area the size of Montana could have survived the devastation of World War II to become one of the most productive nations on Earth. The enigmas of the Japanese spirit can be explained through the nation’s literature. Gifted writers reveal the nature of modern Japan.

This series on the literature of modern Japan provides an opportunity to read and discuss outstanding works that might otherwise go unopened.

Book List

  • Kokoro by Natsume Sôseki
  • Tokyo Story, a filmscript by Ozu Yasujiro
  • Friends, a play by Abe Kôbô
  • A selection of short stories:
    • "Aghwee the Sky Monster” by Kenzaburō Ōe 
    • "The Boy Who Wrote Poetry” by Mishima Yukio
    • "The Bridge of Dreams” by Tanizaki Junichiro
    • "Thousand Cranes by Kawabata Yasunari

Program Brochure

The humanities scholar’s essay was written by Joseph Parisi, critic, writer, and editor of Poetry magazine. Bill Ott, Rhea Rubin, and professor Masako Takeda also made contributions in the preparation of the essay.

How-To Discussion Programming Guides

Developed to aid participants in “The Millennium Project for Public Libraries,” this  how-to guide  (PDF) provides basic information about developing and promoting book discussion programs.

When planning a “Let’s Talk About It” program, you may wish to consult the planner’s manual  (PDF) (coming soon) for general how-to information about program format, selecting a scholar, promoting your series, evaluation, and more.