Things I Love From Japan

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For the last two days I have been glued to the TV and Internet, watching the horrific events unfolding in Japan. It doesn’t feel right to let the situation pass without mention, but I don’t feel I can add much to the extensive media coverage that is already out there. Instead I’ll briefly explain why I love Japan and introduce you to a few of my favourite Japanese things.

I have been to Japan three times and so have spent a reasonable amount of time in the country. I love it there! The scenery is beautiful, the culture is fascinating and the food is delicious. Basically it has everything you could ever want in a holiday. I can only begin to imagine the suffering that is taking place there now. It is all so sad.

It will be a long time before I stop thinking about Japan so I thought I’d try to add some positivity to the situation and highlight a few things from the country that you can enjoy without going there:

Out by Natsuo Kirino

This is the best thriller I’ve ever read. It contains numerous moral conundrums on top of vivid characters and a compelling plot. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Sesame Sauce

I used to bulk buy bottles of this sesame sauce whenever I went to Japan, but I have now discovered that I can buy it at The Japan Centre in Piccadilly. This means I always have some available and can spread it all over my salads without fear of running out.  


I love Japanese mythology – their stories always seem so much more exciting than ours. Kodamas are tree spirits and they are so cute! Here is a short video explaining a bit about them.

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

This was my first introduction to the bizarre world of Murakami. Weird and wonderful. Everyone should experience Murakami.

The Films of Miyazaki

The above kodama clip comes from Princess Mononoke, but I have loved every Miyazaki film that I’ve seen. You never know what will happen next and the stories are so different from anything I’ve watched before. Highly recommended.




 Which things from Japan do you love?

You can donate to the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal here.

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  1. Bellezza says:

    I completely agree with you about cherishing the beauty of Japan, as well as its lovely contributions to our lives. Both Out and Kafka On The Shore are two of my favorite novels. Like you, I’ve been glued to the television and internet since I’ve left work on Friday night, and I stand in humble admiration of the Japanese culture. No where is there the fighting, stealing, looting, or blaming that I found on the television when hurricanes struck the United States. The Japanese are brave and quiet, simply going on as one must in adversity. But, they somehow seem to hang on to their manners at the same time. This situation reminds me a little bit of Murakami’s Underground, where once again, I marveled at the strength of the Japanese.

    1. Jackie says:

      Bellezza, I agree. They have an amazing temperament. I love their calm, polite manner and I’m sure it will be a great benefit to them in recovering from this tragedy.

      I haven’t read Underground yet, as I think I’d find it too disturbing. It is silly really as the TV images are probably just as disturbing.

      I really hope that things improve in Japan quickly.

  2. Bellezza says:

    I understand your concern about finding Underground too disturbing; I have such a soft heart that I’m easily upset as well. However, I found that book to be more inspiring than disturbing. Again, the courage and strength of the Japanese people struck awe in my heart; I aspire to be that calm in the face of such severe distress. Not in any way implying they aren’t completely distraught deep down inside.

    1. Jackie says:

      Bellezza, Thanks for the reassurance. It is nice to know that it is an inspiring book. I’m still a bit wary of it, but I will give it a try at some point.

  3. Jenners says:

    It is so horrible whatbis happening over there. It is hard to believe what I am seeing. This is a lovely way to honor an amazing country. My parents and I lived there for several years when I was a baby and they fell in love with all things Japanese and they passed that appreciation along to us.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, A personal connection makes it even more distressing. I hope that any family friends you have over there are OK.

  4. Karen says:

    I love many aspects of Japanese culture and life too Jackie and like you I am thinking about the people of that country at the moment, as so many of us are. I have only visited the country once but I can’t wait to go back one day very soon. I haven’t read a lot of Japanese fiction but I love reading non-fiction about the country and it’s culture.

    1. Jackie says:

      Karen, I don’t read much non fiction, but have enjoyed a few books about Geishas. I’m sure that there are many other wonderful books about Japan out there. I think I’ll have a quick browse next time I’m in the library.

  5. stujallen says:

    I love visiting Muji ,also like Miyzaki films the cat returns is my all time favourite ,such a terrible thing that has happened so many lives wrecked ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu. I don’t think I’ve seen The Cat Returns – I don’t think it is in my box set. I’ll have to track it down. Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Sakura, the Japanese love of cats, anime, sashimi, green tea, the aesthetic and beauty of the country… I have never been to Japan but harbour the dream of an extended trip one day.

    The events of the last few days have been horrifying and heartbreaking; my thoughts will be with Japan for some time too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I didn’t realise that the Japanese have a special love for cats, but now you mention it they do seem to be very prevalent. I learn something every day :-)

  7. parrish says:

    What do I love about Japan, well all of the above, Murakami, Kirino, Akutagawa, recently discovered a new one Kanehara, the culture, ume blossoms, Suntory yamazaki whisky(they’ve even beaten Scotland to some awards). So my heart goes out to all there This is a moment when language fails, yet we still must try.
    Ps, Jackie underground is a fantastic book and one of the best books I read last year.

    1. Jackie says:

      Parrish, I haven’t read any Akutagawa or Kanehara. Thank you for drawing them to my attention. I’m off to look into them.

      1. parrish says:

        just finished Autofiction by Kanehara & loved it, although it should come with at least an 18 + certificate.

        1. Jackie says:

          parrish, 18+ for sex, violence or something else? I don’t mind violence if it serves a purpose, but mindless gratuitous violence is a real turn off for me. Does it have a good plot to keep me interested?

          1. parrish says:

            There is a small amount of violence, but it chose 18+ more ad a warning for anyone worried about description of sex for example whilst she’s having sex she keeps up a dialogue with her genitalia, as for plot the book is a stream of conscious tale with the protagonist at the beginning 22 tracing

  8. gavin says:

    What do I love about Japan? Besides Miyazaki there is art by Hasegawa Tōhaku and Utagawa Hiroshige, brush painting by Josetsu and Shūbun, the poets Basho, Issa, authors Mishima, Tanazaki and Banan Yoshimoto. There are many many things to love.

    I will try more Murakami and have to add Out to my TBR list. Thanks for this thougful post, Jackie.

    1. Jackie says:

      Gavin, I enjoy Yoshimoto’s books too. The other authors you mention are in my TBR pile, but I haven’t tried them yet. Glad to hear you enjoyed them.

      I don’t know much about Japanese artists, but have seen many beautiful paintings. I love their calligraphy too.

  9. Ifi says:

    How thoughtful of you to give Japan a mention on your blog.
    I have only read Murakami and am now reading the latest Taichi Yamada. I love Wasabi peas Udon noodles and basically all Japanese food. Never been there though.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ifi, I haven’t read Yamada yet – I really should read the copy of Strangers that I’ve had on my shelf for the last few years! So many wonderful Japanese books out there. :-)

  10. Sakura says:

    It’s really hard to know what you can do at a time like this except for giving donations. But I think that like everyone we want to express how much we feel for what is happening in Japan. And I think it’s sweet how you’ve put down all the things you love about the country. You mentioning the sesame sauce made me smile. It’s strange but I keep thinking I need to read Murakami’s ‘After the Quake’ which I still haven’t read yet just to understand.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sakura, I think now might be a good time to read After the Quake too. I can’t stop thinking about earthquakes at the moment :-( It is all so sad.

  11. parrish says:

    Ps. Tracing her tale back to around 16 years of age,the guardian writes “Tautly disturbing..shocking without being sensational”, personally I think its the kind of book that divides people either by the writing style or subject matter. I personally loved it, am purchasing her other English language book.
    Hope this helps.

  12. Kathleen says:

    This is a wonderful idea for a post. I love the bento box that my dear friend Atsuko gave me. I love all of my friends in Japan including Atsuko, Tad, Tomoko, and Yumi. They are all safe…thank goodness.

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