I was lucky enough to meet Erin, blogger at Island Bell and author of Japonisme when I was back in London for a fleeting fortnight. I was invited along to her book launch at, Katsute 100; a Japanese boutique and tea room in Islington, where we spent a delightful afternoon trying a selection of tea and treats and learning all about the art of finding contentment, Japanese-style.
I’ve since dipped in and out of this lovely book, to find out more about everything from forest bathing (shinrinyoku) and connecting with nature, to the delicate art of flower arranging (ikebana) which encourages a mindful state of being, to the practicality of bento boxes. It’s definitely put Japan high up on my travel bucket list, but for now, simply reading about this mystical country will have to suffice. The lovely Erin has been kind enough to share with readers of The Literary Edit some of her favourite books based in Japan, so read on if you want to get a taste for all things Japonisme.
I grew up with a Japanese mother and an English father, and Japan has been such a big part of my upbringing. I always encourage people to go visit Japan if they can – it really is such an incredible place, unlike anywhere else. Here are a few of my favourite English language books that I really feel capture the culture and atmosphere:
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
It was so difficult for me to choose my favourite Murakami, but I really love this one – I particularly enjoy the Storm Trooper character, and how incredibly it captures the messiness and uncertainty of youth.
Sushi Jiro Philosophy & Gastronomy by Jiro Ono
These books are small, but are full of beautiful quotes and philosophies from Jiro Ono, renowned sushi chef. The documentary about his life, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, is one of my favourite films, and I think these little books give a lovely insight into what drives him, and the relentless pursuit of his art.
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
This one is definitely a guilty pleasure, and is such a good holiday read – about high school students in a fictional dystopia who are forced to fight to the death (it predates The Hunger Games by over 10 years).
An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro
The themes and writing style of Kazuo Ishiguro has always resonated with me, perhaps because of the English and Japanese influences in his work. I think An Artist of the Floating World captures a really interesting time in Japanese history, and definitely one to consider if you want to learn more in a more easily digestible way.
I hope that my book, Japonisme, would be useful reading for those thinking about going to Japan – I write about different philosophies and practices, like kintsugi (repairing pottery with gold), tea ceremony, forest bathing, and food!
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