The 50 Best Japanese Books of All Time 

Japan is a beautiful country that has a lot to offer. But if you can’t travel to Japan anytime soon, the next best thing is to read about it. That is why we decided to list the 50 best Japanese books of all time. Keep reading to find out what they are. 

The 50 Best Japanese Books of All Time 

Like any list, many great books will be left off the list. The good news is that there will be 50 books that will get a much-deserved spotlight. Even if you know little about Japan, it is hard to deny the influence Japan has had in Western culture in the past few decades. You can check out our full list below. 

The 50 Best Japanese Books of All Time 

  1. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu 
  2. I Am a Cat by Natsume Soseki 
  3. Ring by Koji Suzuki 
  4. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto 
  5. The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura 
  6. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida 
  7. Apparitions by Miyuki Miyabe 
  8. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata 
  9. Lost Japan by Alex Kerr 
  10. The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe 
  11. The Gossamer Years by Michitsuna no Haha 
  12. The Temple of the Golden Pavilion by Yukio Mishima 
  13. Kokoro by Natsume Soseki 
  14. Rashomon by Ryunosuke Akutagawa 
  15. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 
  16. Almost Transparent Blue by Ryu Murakami 
  17. No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai 
  18. The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi 
  19. Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami 
  20. Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri 
  21. The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi 
  22. Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami 
  23. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa 
  24. The Tale of the Heike by Multiple Authors 
  25. Silence by Shusaku Endo 
  26. An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro 
  27. The Seven Samurai and Other Screenplays by Akira Kurosawa 
  28. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Basho 
  29. The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima 
  30. The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki 
  31. The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura 
  32. Taiko: An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan by Eiji Yoshikawa 
  33. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami 
  34. A Personal Matter by Kenzaburo Oe 
  35. Vibrator by Mari Akasaka 
  36. The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo 
  37. Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima 
  38. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami 
  39. Night on the Railroad by Kenji Miyazawa 
  40. The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe 
  41. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell 
  42. Out by Natsuo Kirino 
  43. The Inland Sea by Donald Richie 
  44. Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano 
  45. The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon 
  46. The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya 
  47. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara 
  48. Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka 
  49. Japanese Ghost Stories by Lafcadio Hearn 
  50. In Praise of Shadows by Junichiro Tanizaki 

Popular Japanese Books

Even if you are unfamiliar with Japan, you may have heard of The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu. It is considered to be the first work of literature in Japan’s history and often debated to be the first novel ever written. The novel was written in the 11th century in an archaic language and it was in the 20th century that it was translated into modern Japanese. 

Another book on this list that you may have heard of is called Ring by Koji Suzuki. The scary movie was released in the early 2000’s which was based on Koji Suzuki’s novel.  


How many of these books have you read or plan to read on this list? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time, happy reading! 

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8 thoughts on “The 50 Best Japanese Books of All Time 

  1. Jim Bee says:

    Thanks for the list. I have read a number of these and I can’t find fault with your list. I only question the title “Japanese Books”. David Mitchell, Alex Kerr and Donald Ritchie aren’t Japanese authors. And their books were written in English. So they are not Japanese books. I would have also chosen Spring Snow by Mishima rather than Temple of the Golden Pavilion. But that’s just personal preference.


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