Recommended Prose Translated from Japanese and on Japan.


This page is intended to supplement my Librarian's Guide to Anime and Manga, Teacher's Companion to the Anime Companion and Anime (and Manga) for Parents (and Other Grownups). These lists also can be used as guides for people looking for titles to rent or buy.
 
This list is mainly, but not exclusively, fiction. Many of the fictional works listed here have been adapted into movies, manga or anime. For the non-fiction I have selected items I have found to be uniquely informative.

Notes on buying items:

If you are interested in buying items I strongly urge you to check local book dealers first. Buying locally saves money on shipping and encourages local merchants to stock more Japan related materials.
 
If you are unable to get items from a bookstore you can use the links on this page. For most items in print, I have linked to appropriate title locations on The Right Stuf site when they stock that title. The Right Stuf site has perhaps the most complete selection of Japanese entertainment related materials available in North America. For items from Japan I genrally link to the CDJapan web site, CDJapan has some of the best prices I have seen for material from that country. For titles not available from The Right Stuf or CDJapan I will often link to the publisher's web page for the title.
Note: Japanese names are given family name first.

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Bilingual Atlas of KYOTO

The best atlas of Kyoto in English you will find, far more detailed than available maps of the city. The pocket sized atlas includes the Kyoto City area and Otsu. Most of the map pages are very detailed for the city and select temple areas outside of it. The rest of the maps are well done. Included are indexes for facilities, train stations, a bus map and a railroad map.

Out of Print. This title is worth tracking down and paying extra for.


Bilingual Atlas of TOKYO Covering All 23 Wards

This is the best English atlas for the urban part of Tokyo. The maps are far more detailed than other atlases, down to the individual street level for the majority of the 23 ku portion of Tokyo and still well detailed for the rest. Included are indexes for each city (ku), facilities, train stations, a subway map and a railroad map

Order the Bilingual Atlas of TOKYO Covering All 23 Wards from CD Japan. Note this atlas is generally cheaper from CD Japan than from US sources.


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Edogawa Rampo (October 21, 1894 – July 28, 1965)

The master of Japanese mystery writing. In spite of his being one of the most prolific and famous Japanese writers of his time, few of his works have been released in English, in fact all but one of the translations listed here are from after 2005. His writings are often mentioned for imaginative use of unusual and grotesque elements as well as being good crime and mystery stories. Many of his stories have been adapted to film, anime and manga or have been referenced in the works of others. His most famous character is the brilliant private detective Akechi Kogorō who shows up in many of the short stories and novels.


The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows
Two of the most famous Rampo novels.

The Black Lizard:
This story is best known in the West through the film directed by Fukasaku Kinji with Miwa Akihiro, who has also done anime voice work for Studio Ghibli, in the title role as the seductive Black Lizard. The Black Lizard is a deadly female criminal mastermind along the lines of Fantomas and Dr. Mabuse. In the story private detective Akechi Kogorō is hired to stop some of the plots of the Black Lizard and a complex dance of pursuit and evasion between criminal and detective results to delight the reader as the two both pursue and are pursued.

Beast in the Shadows:
A mystery writer meets a beautiful woman at a museum in Ueno; in conversation he finds she is a fan of his work. This leads to a fan/author correspondence, until one day she asks to visit and shows a series of letters from a man with a grudge, a man who is also a mystery writer, a reclusive one who has disappeared, and who was once spurned by a girl and now, many years later has found her and wants revenge, fatal revenge. So begins the struggle to prevent a crime while at the same time keeping the past a secret from the woman's husband.

Kurodahan Press page for The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows


The Edogawa Rampo Reader:
The only anthology of Rampo writing in English to include both stories essays by him. Many of the stories and essays included are considered Rampo classics. One story "The Stalker in the Attic", a Akechi Kogorō story, has been referenced in several movies by using a scene from the story and is likely the origin of a "real ninja" story.

Contents
Introduction by TATSUMI Takayuki
Translator's introduction by Seth JACOBOWITZ
I. The Fiction
1. The Daydream (Hakuchūmu)
2. The Martian Canals (Kasei no Unga)
3. The Appearance of Osei (Osei Tōjō)
4. Poison Weeds (Dokusō)
5. The Stalker in the Attic (Yaneura no Sanposha)
6. The Air Raid Shelter (Bōkūgō)
7. Doctor Mera’s Mysterious Crimes (Mera Hakase no Fushigina Hanzai)
8. The Dancing Dwarf (Odoru Issun Bōshi)
II. The Essays
1. The Horrors of Film (Eiga no Kyōfu)
2. Spectral Voices (Koe no Kyōfu)
3. A Fascination with Lenses (Lens Shikōshō)
4. The Phantom Lord (Genei no Jōshū)
5. My Love for the Printed Word
(Katsuji to Boku to - Shōnen no Dokusha ni Okuru)
6. Confessions of Rampo (Rampō Uchiakebanashi)
7. Dickens vs. Poe (Dickens no Senben)
8. Fingerprint Novels of the Meiji Era (Meiji no Shimon Shōsetsu)
9. An Eccentric Idea (Kikyō na Chakusō)
10. A Desire for Transformation (Henshin Ganbō)

Kurodahan Press page for The Edogawa Rampo Reader


The Fiend with Twenty Faces: A Tale of the Boy Detectives Club

The first work that Edogawa Rampo wrote for boys, and it was also popular with girls, rather than adults. Originally serialized in 1936 in Shōnen Kurabu (Boys' Club), a magazine with a strong educational bent. At the time Rampo was not writing much due to the growing censorship of the times, so when the magazine approached him, a writer famous for unusual and even grotesque stories, to try his had at works for young readers he jumped for it. The Fiend with Twenty Faces was so successful it became a series with three written before the outbreak of War in the Pacific. After the war Rampo returned to the Boy Detectives Club series to write something like 50 volumes. This first story involves Kobayashi Yoshio, the 12-year-old gifted assistant to the famous detective Akechi Kogoro. With Akechi being outside Japan Kobayashi takes a case that pits him against a master thief. The Fiend with Twenty Faces himself is largely an homage to Arsène Lupin, the famous thief of the stories by Maurice LeBlanc. Like Lupin the Fiend does not kill and warns his victims before committing his crimes. As could be guessed from the name of the book the Fiend is a master of disguise, employing them in many ways, often quickly in emergencies.

Kurodahan Press page for The Fiend with Twenty Faces


Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination

The first collection of Edogawa Rampo stories in English. Originally published in the mid 1950s this collection has long been justifiably a favorite of readers interested in Japanese mysteries. Rampo himself worked closely with the translator in the selection and translation of the stories. The tales included in this volume are some of the most famous stories Rampo penned.

Contents
Translator's Preface
The Human Chair
The Psychological Test
The Caterpillar
The Cliff
The Hell of Mirrors
The Twins
The Red Chamber
Two Crippled Men
The Traveler With the Pasted Rag Picture

Tuttle publishing page for Tales of Mystery & Imagination


Moju: The Blind Beast

One of the most famous Rampo's grotesque crimes novels from the 1930s, and one of the most grotesque and erotic of his works. A fellow Rampo fan once told me that at first he regretted getting the book he was so revolted with parts of it. A series of murders take place in Tokyo with the beautiful victims cut up and the segments of their bodies scattered in various parts the city. What the public and the authorities do not know is that the killings are the work of a deranged and gifted blind artist who is gaining greater recognition for his unusual sculptures. As the story progresses the reader is aware of who the killer is and can only observe as the crimes unfold in the tale.

The Creation Books website has a strangely worded message which begin with "Creation books 1989-2014". A Google search turns up a web site accusing the publisher of not paying its writers. It is safe to assume this press no longer exists.


Strange Tale of Panorama Island

An early work by Rampo this is the tale of an impoverished writer, a wealthy classmate from their college years, a death and resurrection leading to the creation of a playful utopian paradise involving an entire island and costing a fortune in money and resources. How this project came to be, the motivations of the creator and how secrets were uncovered told in a way that keeps you turning the pages. Note: I recommend reading the introduction only to page xix as after that major points in the story are given away.
There is also a manga adaptation by Maruo Suehiro available in English translation.

University Of Hawai'i Press page for The Strange Tale of Panorama Island


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Kikuchi Hideyuki
This author accounts for about half of all the Japanese science fiction and fantasy that has been translated into English. Such a number is largely due to his popular long running Vampire Hunter D series of novels. His works range from strange, almost surreal, horror and action to slow paced atmospheric works with a feeling of something just not quite right.


Demon City Shinjuku: The Complete Edition

Years after Shinjuku is hit by a mysterious earthquake Izayoi Kyoya, a high school student, is approached by the authorities. It turned out the earthquake was not a natural one, and that his father died fighting Rebi Ra, the man who created the quake. Now Rebi Ra is active again and plans to fully open the pathway between this world and the demon realm by sacrificing the President of the World Federation. Rama's daughter Sayaka also pleads for Kyoya to help. Together they enter Shinjuku to stop the plan. This volume also contains a second story concerning Izayoi Kyoya. The novel also formed the basis of an anime adaptation

Order Demon City Shinjuku: The Complete Edition from The Right Stuf


Maohden

Originally published in 1986, Maohden is the story of strange doings in Demon City Shinjuku many years after the quake that turned that part of Tokyo very strange. Some are calling this a prequel to Yashakiden, however that is not the case as Yashakiden was published a decade later and is a sequel to Maohden. Satsura Aki has a problem, many years earlier a series of events took place that set something in motion, a something connected to his father and him.

Cautions, Strong sexual situations. In fact the author says in his afterword that "I chose to make sex and violence the centerpieces of Maohden."

Order Maohden volume 1 from The Right Stuf


Noble V: Greylancer

Set in the same world as Vampire Hunter D. This tale is set in the year 7000, during the time when the Nobles still ruled the land and humans were little better than cattle. This is also set during the time of the long war against the OSB, the Outer Space Beings, who have come to conquer, such conquest being a part of their culture. The story revolves around Greylancer a high ranking noble warrior of great loyalty. However the OSB are not the only adversaries, there are others with agendas that threaten the peace, and the lives of millions.

Order Noble V: Greylancer from The Right Stuf


Vampire Hunter D

A long series of novels set 10,000 years in the far future involving a vampire hunter, who is himself half vampire. For millennia the vampires ruled humanity as nobles, each controlling a domain treating humans as serfs and food. Humanity was eventually able to rise up and defeat their long lived masters. However surviving vampires and many other supernatural beasts still prey on people, some of these beasts are the products of genetic manipulation by the vampires. For this reason specialized hunters exist, some specialize in certain types of prey, including vampires. The setting resembles a frontier much like ancient Europe mixed with elements from the US wild west. This series produced two popular anime (1985 & 2000) and a manga adaptation. By the way, while few characters in the stories know it D does not travel alone, he has a very close partner who comes in very handy on occasion. In other words this is just a tale of a lone swordsman for hire riding into town on a cyborg horse.

Cautions, some sexual situations.

Order Vampire Hunter D volume 1 from The Right Stuf


Wicked City

The demon realm and that of humans are closer than most would think. The two have had a series of treaties for centuries to keep the peace, each side has it's own special police, The Black Guard, to make sure the peace is kept. However there are those who, for various reasons, wish to break the agreements. The first volume focuses around two members of the Black Guard, a human man and a beautiful demoness. They are assigned to guard Giuseppi Mayart a very old, and very lecherous, delegate who is in Japan for the signing of the new extension of the treaty and there are those who want him dead. Wicked City vol.1 was also adapted into an anime and a Hong Kong live action movie.

Cautions, sexual situations.

The Right Stuf does not list Wicked City v.1 on their site, I have emailed them about this as the book is still in print. They do list volumes 2 and 3.

Order Wicked City: The Other Side (vol.2) from The Right Stuf

Order Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan (vol.3) from The Right Stuf


Wind Named Amnesia / Invader Summer

This fat volume consists of two early novels by Kikuchi from 1983.

Wind Named Amnesia:
One day a wind blew around the world and everyone forgot, forgot who they were, how to talk, how to drive, how to open a door or window, everything other than basic animal functions. One young man stumbles on a laboratory where one person has not been affected by the wind. This is a young experimental subject who befriends the wanderer and using the equipment in the lab gives him the ability to talk, operate machinery and the name Wataru. After his friend dies Wataru decides to explore and see what has happened to this land once called America. The trip takes him from coast to coast and on it he meets Sophia, a woman who can also talk. At the same time they meet something not human that decides to pursue them.
Invader Summer:
A new girl is in Yubue one which almost all of the boys are strangely attracted to and who lives in the old mansion that had laid unoccupied for many years. Manabu Katagiri, a local kendo prodigy, who is morning the death of his girlfriend seems to be the only boy not attracted to her. Then couples start breaking up and people start acting very strangely. Could these be related to the girl, who seems to be totally harmless? Then there is the reporter who is researching things and the yakuza group that Manabu tangles with.

Out of Print


Yashakiden: The Demon Princess

Demon City Shinjuku is used to the unusual, in fact it is the norm for those who choose to live there. But when a road turns into a river on a hot summer night and a ship, an old wooden ship, rides the current to only vanish without a trace of either the ship or river things get stranger. Drawn into this are part time private eye and senbei maker Aki Setsura, Doctor Mephisto and a young student of Chinese folklore. Something very old from China is planning to make Shinjuku it's new home, and the residents playthings and prey. Toss in artificial blood drinking vampires, the local authorities, a very old European witch, and a struggle that threatens to extend beyond the demon city and you have a most unusual tale spread over several volumes.

Cautions, sexual situations.

Out of Print


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Matsumoto Seicho

Pro Bono

An innocent accused of a crime, an orphaned sister left to mourn her brother, a successful Tokyo lawyer combine in a tale of mystery, justice gone wrong and revenge. A tale that leads to the actual criminals and a merciless revenge aimed at the guilty.

Order Pro Bono from The Right Stuf


McLelland, Mark

Back in 2004 a gay friend who had moved a couple of years earlier to Tokyo asked for help to understand the queer scene in Japan. I told him that as a straight, white male raised in California I could not be of much direct help. Then the librarian in me took over and I sent him the links to several articles by Mark McLelland, an Australian scholar studying the topic.
I had first run into McLelland's name when I stumbled across his article "Why Are Japanese Girls' Comics full of Boys Bonking?" along with a few other works of his on the Online Bibliography of Anime and Manga Research.
After that initial email exchange from my friend wrote back to me that the documents were very helpful and of interest to some of his Japanese acquantances. As a result of his question I eventually bought several books written and edited by McLelland and found them informative. I recommend these to anyone interested in 20th century queer, gender and sex related culture in Japan.

McLelland, Mark J. and Romit Dasgupta, eds Genders, Transgenders and Sexualities in Japan
This collection of essays includes a variety of topics on gender and sexuality. However many of the essays are on queer culture.

McLelland, Mark J. Love, Sex, and Democracy in Japan during the American Occupation
The post WWII Allied Occupation of Japan is often blamed for modern censorship in Japan. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the publications of that time would have been illegal in the US until the later 1960s and even 1970s. McLelland provides us with a great study of how the Japanese redefined gender relations and sex in the post war period after over 15 years of increasing censorship and suppression under the wartime government.

McLelland, Mark J. Male Homosexuality in Modern Japan: Cultural Myths and Social Realities
This book deals with changing representations of male homosexuality in Japan from the regular media, popular entertainment, to views within the queer community.

McLelland, Mark J. Queer Japan from the Pacific War to the Internet Age
Covering the queer subcultures from the early days of sexology publications in the 1920s to recent times. Informative on changing identities, social views and even the terminology used within the queer Demi-monde.

McLelland, Mark J., Suganuma Katsuhiko and James Welker. eds Queer Voices from Japan: First Person Narratives from Japan's Sexual Minorities
A collection of articles and essays selected from decades of Japanese publications.


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Nakamura Fumi

ENMA the Immortal

1860s Kyoto, a sickly elderly man sees members of the Shinsengumi chasing a young man. Later that evening he hears a sound at the door and opens it to find the young man wounded outside his door. Awakening two days later he finds that the old man has placed a tattoo on his right palm. Taken in by the old man while he recovers he begins sketching to pass the time. In a conversation he gets a clue as to the killer of his sister and stays to study tattooing under the old man who has no successor for the secret techniques of his lineage.

Order ENMA the Immortal from The Right Stuf


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Poitras, Gilles
My own works, I hope you will indulge me in adding these here.

The Anime Companion
My own book focusing on anime as a window to learn about Japanese culture. Most of the book is a dictionary of 'stuff' seen in anime. These include furniture, historical personages, organizations, corporations, etiquette, gestures and any other detail I could locate information on.

Out of Print, still easy to locate from many dealers.


The Anime Companion 2
This second volume is very different from the first one. It consists of all new entries with many more dealing with Japanese history, geography, literature, landmarks and plenty on modern day Japanese culture information. As usual I have attempted to identify as many Japanese foods as I could. This time the book incliuded the kanji and kana for each entry as well as maps.

Out of Print, still easy to locate from many dealers. The Rights Stuf still has in stock
Order The Anime Companion Volume 2 from the Right Stuf


Anime Essentials
My second book, this work is a short introduction for newer fans. As I wrote it I kept in mind that many of the readers would not only be newer fans of anime but also parents, teachers and librarians.

Out of Print, still easy to locate from many dealers.


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Takachiho Haruka

One of Japan's most famous science fiction writers. Outside Japan he is best known for his Dirty Pair space opera stories which he began writing in 1979. Official codename: Lovely Angels, nickname: The Dirty Pair. Kei and Yuri are Trouble Consultants for the WWWA, the Worlds Welfare Work Association. The Central Computer that handles assignments, pairing the best operatives on each case and selected them to be a team. When it chooses Kei and Yuri for assignments their supervisor, and pretty much anyone who has to work with them, gets nervous. While they always succeed in their assignments there is always a large amount of collateral damage. By the way if the name WWWA sounds like a sports organization it is because it is an homage to the World Women's Wrestling Association. The story goes that the Dirty Pair were inspired by a conversation between A. Bertram Chandler and Takachiho during a match involving the tag team female wrestlers the Beauty Pair.


The Great Adventure of the Dirty Pair

This volume actually contains two short works in the Dirty Pair series:
The Great Adventure of the Dirty Pair involves an investigation of a suspicious explosion at a Gravas Heavy Industries plant. The police have rulled the explosion an accident, however there are suspicions so the WWWA is called in.
The Case of the Backwoods Murder, involves a death than has been ruled an accident, however case turned complex when two friends from Yuri's childhood show up who may have a link to the case. Plus evidence quickly mounts that there is more when the hotel Kei and Yuri are in catches fire trapping them, then there are the gunmen after them.

Out of Print.


The Dirty Pair Strikes Again

A mysterious unknown animal attacks a miner on the planet Chakra. Kei and Yuri are dispatched to investigate. Before they can even leave their chief's office they are attacked by three figures in powered armor. After the struggle, and resulting damage, they are ordered to immediately leave for their assignment. Once there they stumble on evidence that far more than a wild beast attack is going on.

Out of Print.


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Ubukata Tow

Mardock Scramble

Rune-Balot muses that she wants to die. Her life does not look good even though she wears expensive clothes and is riding in an expensive car. But that thought of dying is balanced by an urge to live, and she does after being burned alive by someone who said he would take care of her. She now has a chance to go after her killer, with a new skin that gives her unusual abilities. And she has help in the form of Dr. Easter who has to prove that the technology he developed during the war is beneficial or he will be tried as a war criminal and Œufcoque Penteano a product of the same labs Dr Easter worked at. The man who failed to kill her is assisted by another product of the labs who is ruthless and highly capable.
The three volumes of Mardock Scramble were released in the US as one fat volume by Viz Media.
A series of three anime features were made, one for each of the three volumes.

Order Mardock Scramble from The Right Stuf

Uchida Yasuo

The Togakushi Legend Murders

A murder, an ancient legend, and events during the Second World War are fatally interlinked. It is up to Inspector Takemura to track down the killer in a small mountain town as the bodies start to increase. With the help of a professor and university student he discovers a link from the crimes to an old legend of the Demoness Maple.

Out of Print.


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Yokomizo Seishi

The Inugami Clan

Inugami Sahei, a wealthy silk merchant, has died, as an impoverished orphan on the verge of starving to death he was rescued by a local shinto priest whose family he has kept close relations with. His will is about to be read and the lawyer in charge has called in detective Kindaichi Kosuke as the the particular manner in which the heirs are listed in the will could mean major trouble for the family. In fact it does, soon the number of corpses increases as Kindaichi strives to discover who is responsible for the killings and why the will has the particular heir it does.

The Inugami Clan is currently out of print, however second hand copies are not hard to find.


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Created July 17, 2011 | Updated July 3, 2013