Ukigumo Shinrei Kitan Sekigan no Kotowari
Osayo, sister of aspiring painter Yasohachi, has been acting strangely lately. It appears to be the work of the supernatural, and nobody is able to talk to her. The troubled Yasohachi hears of a master averter of evil and visits an old shrine.
The man has abnormally white skin and wears a red cloth over his eyes. When Yasohachi asks him for his service, the man demands a huge sum of money and then robs Yasohachi of his cash and disappears. Yasohachi manages to find him, and when he asks him once again to ward off evil from his sister, the man agrees.
This man with red eyes, who sees the spirits of the dead, looks at Osayo and confirms that she is indeed possessed. But he says the spirit cannot be removed with chants or sacred amulets. He says, “We have to find out why the spirit wanders the world of the living and eliminate the cause.” And thus starts Yasohachi and the man’s search for the cause. When Yasohachi asks him his name, he responds, “I don’t have one as I drift like clouds at the mercy of winds. You can call me whatever you wish.” And so, Yasohachi starts calling him Ukigumo (floating cloud).
Yasohachi is intrigued by Ukigumo, and after ridding the spirit that possessed his sister, they together become involved in numerous other cases.
The curtain rises for this mystery set in the late Edo Period for all entertainment novel fans!
Kai and Minori are next-door neighbors on top of a hill. They have been friends since kindergarten when Minori moved to the neighborhood. The big zelkova tree that grows between their houses is a special place for them. In second grade, when Kai, who thought of himself as a good artist, got depressed when a drawing he drew for class received poor feedback, Minori kissed him under the tree to cheer him up. In fourth grade, Kai’s mother leaves his family because of a troubled marriage. The two heartbroken children realize that “no matter how much you love someone, the relationship deteriorates when you’re always together” and so they decide “not to stay together but promise to love each other forever and never keep secrets from each other.” In middle school, Minori, keeping her promise, tells Kai about her sexual adventures with her boyfriend and about losing her virginity to her cram school teacher. Kai also tells her about masturbating and his first sexual experience in high school. Around this time, Kai’s talent as an artist begins to blossom. Meanwhile, Minori starts finding pleasure in having random sex with a countless number of men. They go their different ways and start their own families, but they never forget the promise they made as children. The people around them are baffled by their unique relationship but…… How long will this inordinately pure and extreme form of love last? And will the childhood friends’ promise be tolerated? The author rhetorically declares, “Can you love somebody more sincerely than this?” A definitive novel about “pure love.”
Soredakede (Only the Darkness or Her Kiss)
A full-length mystery written in the first-person point of view.
The protagonist, Etsuo Kubiki, is a detective and writer burdened with the tragic memory of losing someone he loves in the past. He receives an assignment from Yui Mizutani, an actress and the editor of publishing company Hayama Shobo, to write a biography for William Beck.
William Beck, a legendary figure in IT, developed a computer interpreter while in college, took a leave of absence to start up a software company, and established himself permanently in the computer industry in the 1980s. He has then stepped down from his position as chairman, removing himself from the business frontline, and is now dedicating himself to charity work through his foundation. Kubiki is invited for a week’s stay at a luxurious summer cabin William owns in Japan. In addition to William, his family, friends, and employees are also staying there.
After Kubiki arrives at the cabin, there is a mysterious murder. The police immediately start an investigation but find no clues. They monitor people coming and going from the cabin, but nobody seems suspicious. And before the murder is solved, another incident occurs. Kubiki goes to the cabin to write William’s biography but finds himself involved in the mysteries. Will he be able to solve them? A superb novel about a detective tormented with tragic memories, his pursuit of the truth behind the mysteries, and his straying in the shadows of love.
JKaho is 23 years old. A fashion school graduate, she works in the designing division of a domestic apparel manufacturer. One day, Ai, her best friend from fashion school and an assistant stylist, invites her to a mixer party with comedians. Kaho is reluctant to go but meets and falls in love with one of the comedians, Tomo.
Their carefree happy days do not last long. Out of the blue, Tomo pushes a boy named Yuta onto Kaho. Yuta is Tomo’s child with his ex-girlfriend, who disappeared from his life, leaving him to look after Yuta. Kaho has her parents take Yuta in while she continues her job.
Soon, Kaho is offered the position of main designer at a new brand. Backed up by the new brand’s owner, she goes and watches the shows of the Paris collection, where she is deeply moved by the latest in fashion design. Kaho develops an ambition to become a top-class designer. She continues her relationship with Tomo but also starts dating entrepreneur Hashimoto, who she meets through the brand owner. Both a successful career and love life. This desire drives her forward, and her life is about to blossom in a big way.
Then Hashimoto’s wife finds out about his relationship with Kaho and pays her off to break up with him. Kaho gets depressed but decides to use the money to start up her own brand, NATSU. The brand struggles at first, but gradually its refined, simple designs start gaining popularity. Sought-after model Kanako, top stylists, magazine editors, world-renowned photographers… Encounters with bright, talented people in the industry’s upper echelon rekindle Kaho’s life.
Then one day, comedian Tomo, with whom Kaho has continued her relationship over the years, decides to leave Tokyo and become a cook in a regional city. He asks her to join him, and although uncertain, she decides yes, however…
A love more fulfilling. More recognition as a designer. Kaho’s desire and ambition propel her life forward. A full-length novel that strikes a chord in women’s hearts.
Haru Modoru (Spring Returns)
Sakura is 36 years old. She is engaged to Yamada, the heir of Japanese sweets shop Kasuga-an who she met through a marriage agency. She has quit her job and is leading a quiet, peaceful life, going to cooking classes and helping out at the shop.
One day, on her way back from cooking class, she is approached by an unfamiliar young man. “Who are you?” she asks. “Your big brother,” he keeps insisting. But the man is clearly younger than her and not a relative of the Yamadas. She is not sure but has a feeling she has met him before, a long time ago.
Then for some reason, this strange Big Brother starts sticking his nose into Sakura’s marriage to Yamada. He starts visiting Kasuga-an, saying he wants to see what kind of man she’ll be marrying, and he easily blends into the family with his ridiculously friendly and outgoing personality. He hosts a cooking lesson at Sakura’s home, claiming it’ll be good for her relationship with her mother-in-law, where he demonstrates his amazing cooking skills. On top of all that, he joins Sakura and Yamada on their date, and the three of them end up spending a day at an amusement park…
In spite of being juggled around by the free-spirited, free-wheeling Big Brother, Sakura slowly begins to open up to him. She must have met him somewhere before. Every time she tries to remember, painful memories of the past that she’s been putting a lid on start to come back. Being full of hope with her new job as an elementary school teacher. How her class broke down because of her inexperience as a teacher. How she kept losing weight as she struggled and struggled without getting any results. How the principal always kindly encouraged her on. And the withdrawn elementary school boy at the principal’s house…
When all the riddles are solved and Sakura accepts her past that she had been denying, her “present” and “future” start shining again. A heartwarming tale of recovery dedicated to people who have suffered setbacks.
The Butterfly and the Bomb
Ryosuke Kumagai, who almost turns 78, is suffering acute myelocytic leukemia. Still alive after a year and a half of the disease, he has long outlived his doctor’s prognosis. With the doctor’s permission, Ryosuke decides to leave the hospital to receive treatment at home. His wife, Taeko, and his daughter, Kimiko, start preparing their house for his return. On August 6, 1945, when Ryosuke was a middle school student, he became a victim of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. His father was a reconnaissance pilot of the Great Imperial Japanese Army, and the family was living in Hiroshima at the time. On the day of the bomb, Ryosuke and his classmates were helping demolish buildings to prevent the spread of fire in an air raid. That was when the atomic bomb was dropped. While tens of thousands were killed instantly in the explosion, Ryosuke miraculously survived, despite being blown into a river and suffering severe burns. Most of his friends also died, and Ryosuke and another friend were the only survivors. As Taeko and Kimiko prepare for Ryosuke’s return home from the hospital, they find an old insect box in the family altar he treasures. Pinned in it is a small blue butterfly with part of its front wing missing. It is Ryosuke’s precious keepsake from his heartbreaking romance—unbeknownst to his wife and daughter— that was cut short by the bombing when it had also taken the life of the girl Ryosuke loved more than anybody at the time. Ryosuke had never spoken a word about the tragedy to anybody. A poignant novel that shifts back and forth between 1945 and present day.
On a hill overlooking a marsh in Hokkaido stands Hotel Royal. Formerly a “love hotel,” it is now an abandoned building, its once-white walls already mostly bare. A young couple plans to take nude photographs in the building. The man is an aspiring photographer who was once a promising ice hockey player until an injury cut his career short. His girlfriend is indulging him, despite her discomfort, knowing his dream to be futile.
Before it was abandoned, many men and women stayed at Hotel Royal searching for an escape from their day-to-day lives. There were part-time workers and employees, and adult goods salesmen came to sell their products. Hoping to get rich quick, the owner borrowed a lot of money to build the hotel. Time passed since then, and the hotel is now abandoned, never revealing all the drama it saw within its walls.
A female shop clerk whose boyfriend wants to take and post nude photos of her. The wife of a temple master who is a man of character but impotent. A housewife with a live-in father-in-law who has no time to make love with her husband. A high school girl whose parents ran away from home and a high school teacher with a philandering wife. A female janitor with a young husband who won’t get a job… The book is a series of short stories, episodes from the complicated lives of people with ties to the hotel.
A bestseller with sales of over 500,000 copies. Winner of the 149th Naoki Prize. Titles include “Shutter Chance,” “Honjitsu Kaiten (Shop Opens Today),” “Ecchi-ya (Sex Vendor),” “Bubble Bath,” “Sensei (Teacher),” “Hoshi wo Miteita (Watching the Stars),” “Gift”
Boku no Mamoru Hoshi (Stars that I Protect)
Kakeru, a 14-year-old with dyslexia, a learning disability. Classmates Tsuyoshi and Mahori with family problems. And Kakeru’s parents, who cannot come to terms with their son’s handicap. Boys and girls living the years in the beginning of their lives and adults living the years of uncertainty. They are the main characters of this series of short stories that portray a speck of light that glows beyond the point where their thoughts and feelings intersect.
Giverny no Shokutaku (Dinner Tables of Giverny)
Monet, Matisse, Degas, Cezanne. Four masters of beauty, who were cast out by society and shunned by their peers yet continued to seek new expressions of beauty. What were their battles? What were their dreams? A collection of short stories that vividly revive the lives of the great artists from the viewpoints of four women in their lives. A museum in text by the author who was formerly a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Sekai Chizu no Shitagaki (A Draft of a World Map)
Daisuke, an elementary school student who lost his parents in a traffic accident, starts living in an orphanage called Aoba Ohisama no Ie. Grief had made him build a wall around himself, but he starts to open up to his roommates. The motherly Saori, a high school student, is particularly kind and claims a special place in everybody’s heart. For Saori, who is about to graduate from the orphanage, four children start planning to revive the Firebug Festival for releasing lanterns into the sky with their wishes. A full-length novel and a tour de force by the author.