Japanese Literature

This book is for students interested in understanding the variety of Japanese literature and its importance in the realm of world literature. Japanese literature has a long and illustrious history; in fact, the first known novel was written by a Japanese woman over a thousand years ago. In comparison to that novel, which translates (with notes) to roughly two thousand pages, the field is now best known for haiku, a form of short poetry. This book will discuss how Japanese literature spanned the distance between thousand-page novels and 17-syllable poems, working its way to modern Japanese literature and developments such as the light novel.

A beauty reading by Utagawa Kunisada.

This format allows student to learn about the large and diverse category that is "Japanese literature" in a simplified manner. When works are brought up that appeal to a given student, it is hoped that she will find copies to read on her own. In this way students will gain a comprehensive overview of a complicated topic.


Classical Literature

  • Court Life and Forms of Writing
  • The Tale of Genji

Medieval Literature

  • Gunki Monogatari or War Tales
  • Otogi Zoushi

Early Modern Literature from the Tokugawa/Edo Period (1600-1868)

  • Plays
  • The Development of Modern Japanese Poetry

Modern Literature from the Meiji Period onward (from 1868)

  • Naturalism in Japanese Literature
  • The I-novel
  • Light Novels, Cell Phone Novels and the Impact of New Media

Current Popular Writers

  • Yu Miri
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Banana Yoshimoto