4 Japanese Novels For Beginners and Intermediate Japanese Learners

Fall is a season for reading in Japan, because the night is getting longer and we have more free time. Today, I will introduce four famous novels in Japan which use easy Japanese. If you are Japanese learner, you can try to read them in Japanese. You can also find an English- translated book at a library or online. I also put the level of difficulty for each novels, so that you can choose a book based on your Japanese language level.




Urashima Taro (浦島太郎) Japanese Folk story

Difficulty: Easy

This is one of the most famous and beloved folk stories in Japan. This is also known as one of the oldest folk stories in Japan, as it seems to have originated from the eighth century. The story begins with a fisherman who rescues a turtle, and then he is rewarded for this with a visit to a palace under the sea. It is perfect for a beginner in the Japanese language!



Gon, The little fox (ごんぎつね)  By Nankichi Nimi

Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Gon, the Little Fox, is a famous Japanese children’s story about the life of a little fox called Gon. You will cry with the unexpected and heartbreaking ending. This would be a little difficult to read in Japanese but if you are good at Japanese, please try it.



The Restaurant That Has Many Orders

(注文の多い料理店), By  Kenji Miyazawa

Difficulty: Intermediate

The Restaurant that has Many Orders is also famous because it’s usually in Japanese text books in elementary school. The story is considered the masterpiece of Kenji Miyazawa, arguably the greatest author of children’s literature in Japan.  The story is about two hunters who got lost in the forest and enter a old western style restaurant. It’s very humorous, and contains great lessons.



博士の愛した数式 The Housekeeper and the Professor, Yoko Ogawa

Difficulty: Moderately Intermediate

The Housekeeper and the Professor is a novel by Yoko Ogawa set in modern-day Japan. It was published in August, 2003 and was the first recipient of the Japan Booksellers Award. The story centers around a mathematician, “the Professor,” who suffered brain damage in a traffic accident in 1975 and since then can produce only 80 minutes’ worth of memories, and his interactions with a housekeeper (the narrator) and her son “Root” as the Professor shares the beauty of equations with them.



Written by Yuta Murase, Marketing Intern, Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council – Yuta is an international student from Japan who studied as an undergraduate student at the University of Cincinnati.

Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council does not own or claim to own these photos.

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