Top Japanese Books of 2022: My Highlights

In 2022, I read more books in Japanese than ever before and with all that progress in reading comprehension was also able to finally enjoy reading some truly exceptional Japanese novels. In this post, I’ll be sharing my personal highlights of this year and I’ll also provide links to each book in case you want to check them out for yourself.

Before we dive in, a few notes:

  • Some of the books on this list have already been reviewed in more depth on my blog, and I’ll be providing links to those reviews as well in those cases.
  • While I usually focus on Japanese books for language learners on this blog and in my book club, I’ve excluded graded readers from this list to focus on what I personally enjoyed reading this year. If you’re looking for graded reader recommendations, please check out this post.
  • Most of the books on this list are challenging for beginner and elementary readers, but will fit well for learners with intermediate Japanese abilities and up.
  • I’ve also excluded all the manga I have read this year because I found them hard to compare. There were a lot of outstanding series as well and they will be appearing on this blog in the form of book reviews soon. Stay tuned!

So, here are my top Japanese books of 2022:

6. 君の膵臓をたべたい by 住野よる

Starting with Number 6 in this 2022 highlight ranking, because I really wanted to inculde this book and it also fits because I read it in June. The English title is “I want to eat your Pancreas”.

In this novel a nameless protagonist finds the diary of his classmate Sakura, who writes about her incurable pancreatic disease. The two teenagers are connected by this secret and spend more time together. As Sakura’s disease progresses, we find out more and more about its impact on the main characters’ daily life and emotions.

I’ve written a more in-depth book review here. Check it out on Amazon. There is also a version with 100% furigana on all kanji.

5. コンビニ人間 by 村田紗耶香

Can you believe that this was my very first full novel in Japanese and that I’ve only read it this year?? I almost forgot about it with how much it opened the path for all the other books I’ve read the following months. But really it all started with Keiko and her beloved convenience store.

Furukura Keiko struggles to fit into societal norms but finds purpose working at a convenience store. Keiko’s perspective on the world and her efforts to understand it are engaging, but her reactions to societal pressures and conclusions are both fascinating and alienating.

Check this short novel out on Amazon Japan and my short book review.

4. 満月の夜に君を見つける by 冬野夜空

Such a beautiful cover, right? I admit, I chose this book just because I found it so pretty and went into the story itself pretty blind.

It is a romance novel and focuses on two rather isolated high school students, who get closer to each other through drawing and painting. Their conversations are about the childhood traumas that led them into isolation and the question of how much they would give to be happy.

It also had just the right amount of magical realism in it, that made me love it so much. Check it out on Amazon Japan.

3. ふしぎ駄菓子屋銭天堂 by 廣嶋玲子

So, this is a children’s book series that absolutely surprised me with how much I loved it. I read this first volume of the series in April but recently got the second volume as well and still had just as much fun with it.

Each chapter revolves around a different customer to a mysterious and magical candy store, where they make a purchase that has the power to turn their life around. I loved the wonderfully whimsical candies just as much as the dark turns some stories took.

Check this series out on Amazon. I’ve also written a book review about it.

2. また、同じ夢を見ていた by 住野よる

In August I was given the recommendation to read this novel by @JapanTalkOnline on Twitter and thought it had a really nice perspective on live paths and that the plot was well thought out.

Nanoka feels excluded by her classmates but finds companionship with a stray cat, a self-harming teenager, a woman with a secret job, and an elderly woman. The novel is written in a simple and accessible style, following Nanoka’s perspective as she explores the concept of happiness through conversations with her friends.

I’ve already written more about this book and my thoughts on it here. It is purchasable though Amazon Japan.

1. かがみの孤城 by 辻村深月

My absolute favourite Japanese novel this year was The Solitary Castle in the Mirror, which I read in September. It was also the longest novel I read this year and I was so moved by the plot and so invested in what was happening, that I could hardly put it down.

Upon enrolling in the local middle school, Kokoro loses the courage to actually attend. While isolating herself in her room, her bedroom mirror begins to glow, allowing her access to the mirror castle, where she meets six other children who are supposed to be in school and a younger girl in a wolf mask.

The anime movie adaptation just came out before Christmas and I’m really looking forward to watching it. The novel can be purchased e.g. through Amazon Japan.

Here’s to 2023!

2022 was a really exciting year for me personally and this blog. I launched this site back in January with only a handful of links and book reviews and just look where we are now! Thank you so much!

A lot of what I’m reading actually comes through recommendations others have shared with me and I’m really thankful for all the great books I was able to read along with you guys. I hope you find this list of my top 2022 Japanese books just as helpful for choosing your 2023 books. Which of these books have you also read this year, and which ones are you excited to check out next?

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