5 Must-Read Japanese Books

When you hear the words “Japanese literature”, you might immediately think “manga”. But let me tell you, Japan has so much more to offer. Whether you’re already a big fan of Japanese literature or want to get to know it a little better, here are some amazing books from some truly awesome authors that I’ve already read or are definitely on my to-read list.


1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Must-Read Japanese Books 1Q84

I can say without a doubt that this trilogy called 1Q84, is my all-time favourite. I would recommend it to anyone, even if they’re not particularly interested in Japanese literature. This trilogy is known as Haruki Murakami’s masterpiece. It’s a captivating story about a hired assassin and a math teacher finding each other in a world with two moons.

The story is set in Tokyo, which is described so accurately that you actually feel like you’re taking a trip to Japan. Everything is written very realistically, and yet this thriller gives you a hint of fantasy as well.

The Devotion of Suspectby Keigo Higashino

Must-Read Japanese Books The Devotion Of Suspect X

This novel is Keigo Higashino’s most famous work from his Detective Galileo book series. This detective novel will keep your attention till the very last page. It tells the story of a mother and daughter accused of murdering the mother’s ex-husband, of their neighbour that wants to help them, and of a detective that will stop at nothing till he finds out the truth. If you’re already into detective series and novels and you want to get a taste of Japan’s finest literature, be sure to give this one a go!

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Must-Read Japanese Books Norwegian Wood

Yes, another Haruki Murakami book. Can you tell I’m a fan? I must start by saying that this book is not for everyone. I loved it, some of my best friends loved it, but I also have friends that aren’t big fans. This is Murakami’s first famous novel and where he clearly defines his special writing style. It describes the special love story between a male student and a girl. The male student loves the girl with his whole heart, and knows that she could never love him in the same way.

Battle Royal by Koushun Takami

Must-Read Japanese Books Battle Royale

This is a Japanese horror/thriller classic. It’s a novel written by Koushun Takami about Japanese high school students that think they’re going on a field trip, but end up in a military program where they are forced to fight and kill each other until there is only one student left standing. You can see it as a darker version of the Hunger Games.

All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

Must-Read Japanese Books All You Need Is Kill

If you’re more into science fiction, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. All You Need Is Kill, written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, is a military science fiction novel. It tells the story of a young soldier that gets killed, but somehow, he is resurrected and is forced to relive the day of his death over and over again. The novel tells the struggle of finding a way to break this loop and change destiny. Also, the movie Edge of Tomorrow is based on this book.

I hope this helped you guys find a Japanese book that suits your taste. Let me know in the comments if you’ve already read any of these or if you’re intrigued to read one. And, if you have more Japanese book recommendations, feel free to share!

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Hanna B

Hanna is a 22 year old Japanese Studies student who majored in Japanese literature in Tokyo, Japan last year. She founded her blog,, where she documents her travels and daily life in Japan. In her spare time she loves to read and write. She also has a big passion for food and fashion.


  1. Yesterday I took a trip to a book store with a wide selection of English books and picked up a few on WW2 since I am living in Hiroshima. I have to say, I am one of the people who dislike Murakami’s books. They are too sexual for me but I am willing to give him another try since English copies are so readily available here. Thanks for the list!

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