Saturday, January 31, 2009

Celebrating 3 years

It's hard to believe this blog is now 3 years old! I started it on January 31st, 2006 and I've never really looked back. The blog has seen some changes, in content, and especially in appearance, and I hope it will get even better in the future. And more than just being a place to record my thoughts on the books I read, being a part of the larger book blogging community has become an important part of my life. I feel like I've made some wonderful friends thanks to this blog. It is still a relatively small blog in terms of readership, compared with others, but I treasure all of my regular visitors (Thank you!! You know who you are!) and I am always thrilled when someone new stops by. So to celebrate my 3rd blog anniversary, and in keeping with the Japanese inspiration behind the blog, I'm having a Japanese-themed giveaway.

Here is what's up for grabs:

Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami - One of Murakami's early books, a novella really, that he's never authorised to be officially published in English. This edition is only available in Japan (and sometimes on ebay and the like) as part of Kodansha English Library. It has a glossary in the back with key English words translated to Japanese and is used by Japanese students for studying English.

Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse
A fictional account of the days, months and years after the bomb fell on Hiroshima and the long-lasting effect it had. Perhaps not a cheerful topic but a moving story. You can read my review, or Nymeth's wonderful review for more about it.

Japan 2009 calendar
A calendar of photos taken by me last year around Japan. I realise January is already over but there are still 11 more months to enjoy.

You may enter to win one, two or all three. Please indicate which one(s) you are interested in.
Also, I'm always happy to get more recommendations of what to read for my personal Reading Japan Project so I'd like to know your favourite Japanese literature titles.

So to enter, your comment must include:
*which prize(s) you'd like to win
*at least one Japanese literature title that you would recommend in any genre (or if you don't have any to recommend, one Japanese title or author that you'd like to try and why).

Don't forget to leave your email address if it's not clearly stated on your blog or profile, so I can get in touch with you if you win. Giveaway is open to anyone worldwide with access to regular mail delivery.

You have until Saturday, February 7th to enter, and I'll announce the winners on Sunday the 8th. Good luck!

Thank you to everyone who commented! This giveaway is now closed.


  1. Congratulations for the 3rd year in blogging:)

  2. No need to enter me, but I wanted to wish you a Happy Blogiversary! Three years of fun stuff, huh? :)

  3. No need to enter me in the giveaway, just thought I'd say congratulations on your 3rd blogiversary! That's quite a milestone!

  4. What lovely prizes! I would be interested in either of the books. (I already have your lovely, lovely calendar!)

    One of my favorite Japanese authors is Haruki Murakami. His books won't be for everybody, but I enjoy them very much. Fortunately, I haven't read them all yet and so have more to enjoy. I know you have already read some of (all of?) his work, so I'm not telling you anything new ;o)

    Also recommended is I Am a Cat by Soseki Natsume for anyone who likes satire. The main character is a world weary kitten.

    Not written by a Japanese author, but set in Japan, is Memoirs of a Geisha. I thought this was a lovely book and learned much about a way of life that is no more (or isn't the same). I watched the movie after reading the book and thought some of the visual scenery was stunning.

    Congratulations on 3 years of blogging! I'm glad you keep it up and enjoy reading your reviews (and looking at your photographs!)

  5. What a nice giveaway. I would love to read Black Rain, I've always meant to. I've just read Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto and enjoyed it very much. It also has the short story Moonlight Shadow in it. And Snow Country by Kawabata has always been a favourite of mine. Thank you for entering me.

  6. Just wanted to congratulate you on your blogiversary (not entering the giveaways)!

  7. Wow! Three years! You're one of the pioneers of our little community! :D Happy Blogiversary Tan! It wouldn't be the same here without you. All three of the giveaways look so appealing that I have no idea how to choose one :p So I'll put my name in the hat for all of them ;)

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  9. I'd be happy to win any of the 3 prizes! I want to try Murakami's "A Wild Sheep Chase." I've read a few of his books, though not this one, and it's the favorite of someone I know -- I'd like to find out why.

  10. Congrats on your 3rd blog anniversary! I've been enjoying your reviews especially on Jap lits.

    I think I'd love to win any of them. The calendar looks lovely and I haven't read either book.

    A Japanese lit I'd recommend to anyone is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. IMO one of the best books I read <3.

  11. Three years is wonderful! I'm glad to have found your blog.

    I would love to be entered for the calendar. I honestly don't think I have read anything by a Japanese author (except for Ishiguro which I don't think counts since he was 6 when he left and he only wrote two books about Japan) which I will definitely have to change this year.

  12. Happy third blogiversary! I couldn't love your blog more :)

    I was reading about that rare Murakami book just the other day! I had no idea it existed before. So I'd love to be entered for that, and for your beautiful calendar of course.

    As for a recommendation, I'm afraid it won't be original, but my favourite work of Japanese Lit is still Norwegian Wood. I can't even begin to describe the emotional impact that book had on me. I know it's different from Murakami's usual style, and for that reason I hesitate to recommend it as an introduction to him...but on the other hand it's such a brilliant book that I want to tell everyone I know to read it.

  13. Just here to wish you Happy Blogiversary! :)

  14. Happy blogversary! I would love to win your beautiful calendar!

  15. Congrats on your three year blog anniversary!

    My order of preference is:

    Black Rain
    Hear the Wind Sing
    Japan Calendar

    I haven't read any Japanese writers' works except Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day. I plan to read Never Let Me Go later this year, and I would like to read some of Murakami's works.

    akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

  16. oh so exciting,3 years of blogging!well done and congratulations:)
    I'd love to have the calendar, as I dream of going to Japan every second day but don't have the money!

    I havent' read much Japanese literature, but I have read lots of manga!I hope it counts.
    I'd recommend
    Maison Ikkoku by Rumiko Takahashi
    Nana by Ai Yazawa
    and Nausicaa of the valley of the wind, the manga edition, by Hayao Miyazaki :)

    lovely giveaway btw!

    my email: valentina dot benivegna at gmail dot com

  17. Congratulations on reaching the three year mark, Nat! We've come a long way, haven't we? I love your blog and look forward to seeing it grow even more in years to come.

    I would love to enter your giveaway for Black Rain and the Japan 2009 calendar.

    Gail Tsukiyama is a Japanese author I have heard so much about and am looking forward to trying. And of course, Haruki Murakami.

    An author I really like who you are already familiar with is Natsuo Kirino.

  18. Happy blogiversary!!! Three years is pretty darn awesome! I would love to enter your contest, and I would enjoy any of the prizes you are giving away. I am woefully ignorant of Japanese literature, but I intend to read at least something by Haruki Murakami this year.

  19. Three years is a loooooong time, my friend. Congrats, you should be really proud of yourself and your gorgeous blog!

    I've just recently started dabbling in Japanese literature. I love Haruki Murakami - though I've only read one book of his and tons of short stories. I also like Takuji Ichikawa - he wrote "Be With You" - I'm hoping to watch the movie tonight with my boyfriend :)

    I would love to be entered in the give-away for either of the books as I haven't read them and they both sound really interesting!

    it's really generous of you to give-away such great books (and the gorgeous calendar)! :)

  20. Happy blogiversary! How strange, I celebrated my third anniversary last week!

    I can't really offer you any suggestions, I'm afraid. I adore Haruki Murakami, and someone already mentioned Kazuo Ishiguro. I've read a couple of books by Banana Yoshimoto, but I don't remember then very well. And that exhausts my list of Japanese authors. Maybe I should look into it as well..

    Would love the calendar or the Murakami book!

  21. Happy Bloggiversary! I love visiting your blog, reading your reviews and of course seeing all the lovely pictures!

    No need to enter me in the giveaway as I was lucky enough to win one of your beautiful calendars (I've got it in my studio!) but can't remember if you've read Shipwrecks by Akira Yoshimura... Such a great book.

    Anyway, here's wishing you many more bloggiversaries!

  22. Congrats!!! 3 years of blogging!! That's awesome!

  23. Congratulations on your third anniversary! I just found your site through the JLC2 blog run by Belleza and now have to have a good look around. :)

    I would also like to enter the contest! I *would* like the Ibuse book *except* I already own the exact same version of it shown in your pic. So, I'll have to say I'd like the Murakami book.

    As for recommended Japanese books, I highly recommend Soseki Natsume's I Am a Cat, which is what really hooked me on Japanese lit.

    It's not a traditional novel, being rather a series of ironic and sometimes cynical commentaries on human nature expressed through the eyes of a nameless cat. I'm not sure it's for everyone - my husband couldn't get through it - but I thought it was absolutely hilarious - and hilarity is something I haven't encountered much in Japanese fiction (yet?).

  24. I just noticed that someone above has recommend I Am a Cat too - I'm glad someone else loves it besides me!

    I'll make another recommendation: Kinshu: Autumn Brocade by Teru Miyamoto. This is an epistolary novel in which a divorced couple begin exchanging letters after ten years of no contact. Even through translation the beauty of the writing is stunning. I highly recommend this one.

  25. Oooh, all three, but I really LOVE the calendar :-)

    I'd recommend the The Rei Shimura Novels by Sujata Massey. I really enjoy them!

  26. CONGRATULATIONS on 3 years! What an achievement! I love visiting your blog, b/c you usually review books that are unfamiliar to me.

    No need to enter me in the contest, I have quite enough books stacked up waiting to be read. :) Just wanted to say congrats!

  27. Congratulations on three years of blogging! I always enjoy visiting your blog, and love to see your photography. Here's to many more blogging years!

  28. Happy Blogiversary, Nat!!! No need to enter me. I'm trying to lower my book intake, if you know what I mean. :)

  29. A very happy anniversary on your third year of blogging, Nat!! So hard to believe it's been that long, but my 3-year is coming up soon, too.

    No need to enter me in the contest. Just wanted to pop in and send you my best wishes. Yours is one of my favorite blogs; one I've been following forever. Here's to many, many more years of great book recs!

  30. No need to enter me, just want to say congrats on three years of blogging! I'm still taking baby steps compared to you!

  31. Wow, Congrats on 3 years! I love your blog, but you know that.

    I would love to win either Black Rain or your Calander!

    I don't have any Japanese books to recommend but I have been wanting to read Black Rain since I read both Nymeth's and your reviews on it!

    I blogged about your giveaway here:

    teddyr66 at yahoo dot com

  32. I'd be happy to win any of these! Thanks for the chance to win!

  33. Congratulations! 3 years is a huge milestone!:)
    I would love to win your calendar or a copy of "black rain"..thanks!

    I just finished reading "scent of sake" by Joyce Lebra and it is easily the best book i have read about japanese history.. you should give it a shot if you haven't already read it..:)


  34. Congratulations on 3 years!!!

    I'd love to get Hear the Wind Sing - I need to read more Murakami. :)

    For a recommendation, one of my favorites is Yukio Mishima's Death in Midsummer (story collection).

  35. Nat! Happy Blogiversary! That's a great milestone you have reached.. The only Japanese author I have read is Murakami of course. If you could, please put my name on the hat for the calendar. I would love to see those pictures you have taken..

  36. Congratulations on your third anniversary. Mine will be this year also! Seeing your blog just reminded me of it.

    My favorite Japanese writers include Murakami and Natsuo Kirino, author of Out and Real World.

  37. Hi
    What a lovely idea to mark your blog anniversary.
    I'd love to win The beautiful calender.
    I've just got Black Rain out of my local library to read and have a copy of Hear the wind sing.
    I'd recommend When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka, or Out by Natsuo Kirino, or The Book of Loss by Julith Jedamus - all of which I've really enjoyed.
    My email address is holisticknitter(at)uk2(dot)net.
    My book blog is here:

  38. Hi ! i would like to enter the contest for Black Rain (Masuji Ibuse) and Hear the Wind Sing (Haruki Murakami).

    acrisalves AT gmail DOT com

  39. iselldreams, Joy, Fyrefly - Thank you! :)

    Terri B. - Thanks for the recommendations. No I haven't read all of Murakami's books yet so I too still have some to look forward to.
    I also have a copy of I am a Cat that's been sitting here for far too long. It's the size that scares me a little but I should really read it one of these days.
    And I loved Memoirs of a Geisha too when I first read it many years ago now. I finally saw the film recently and enjoyed it even though it did have a bit of a Chinese look to it. ;P

    Sandra - I really want to read Snow Country again as I don't think I was quite ready for its quiet beauty at the time.

    Thanks Florinda and Danielle!

    Chris - LOL. Thanks! So kind of you to say that. :)
    I've got your name in for all 3.

    Teresa - A Wild Sheep Chase is one that I'd quite like to read too. I'd actually like to read all of his books eventually but that one's high on the list.

    mee - Thank you! I read Norwegian Wood so long ago I've forgotten a lot of it, and it was before I became a Murakami fan, so I'd really like to read it again sometime.

    Thanks Eva!

    Kristen M. - I'm glad you found it too! :)
    And I think Ishiguro still counts! I'm hoping to read An Artist of the Floating World by him soon.

    Thanks BooksPlease!

    Nymeth - You're so sweet, thank you! I'm definitely going to have to reread Norwegian Wood someday. It was my first Murakami and I didn't really like his style then so I'm sure I'd feel differently about it if I were to read it again now.

    Thanks Bunny B and Stephanie!

    Alyce - I think that's the only one of Ishiguro's books that I've read too although I have a couple more on the shelves waiting. Murakami can be a lot of fun, I hope you enjoy whichever book of his you try.

    valentina - Thank you! And manga definitely counts! I'm quite new to manga so I'm very happy for any suggestions. I've heard of Nana and the film of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind ..but not the manga, and I'll have to check out Maison Ikkoku too. Thanks. :)

    Wendy (Literary Feline) - Thank you, Wendy! Those are all great authors and I'm looking forward to reading more by all of them. :)

    Kim L - Thank you! I've got you down for all 3. Murakami has been getting lots of blog love lately. I hope you have fun with whichever title you end up reading.

  40. saveophelia - LOL. It is a long time and thank you for your very kind words! :)
    I didn't know there was a movie for Be With You as well. I'm going to have to check it out, but I must read the book first!

    Michelle - Happy belated blogiversary, Michelle! You may not have read many but those are great authors to start with!

    Iliana - Thanks, Iliana! :)
    No I haven't read Shipwrecks yet but I do have a copy waiting. I'd hoped to read it last year but didn't get around to it so it's on the short list for this year.

    Thanks Stephanie!

    DreamQueen - Thank you! You're right, there really doesn't seem to be a lot of hilarity in Japanese fiction. I do have a copy of I am a Cat and I think you're encouraging me to give it a try. I also picked up Kinshu: Autumn Brocade a while back but haven't heard much about it. I'm glad to hear you recommend it so highly.

    Janet - I've enjoyed the Rei Shimura novels that I've read too. I think I'm up to the 6th one in the series now.

    Thank you Heather J. and Robin for your kind words! :)

    Nancy - Thanks! I do know what you mean although knowing it and applying it seem to be two entirely different things for me! :P

    Les - Aww, thank you! In some ways it's a long time but it's also gone by very quickly. I look forward to many more great recommendations from you too! :)

    Thanks Avis!

    Teddy Rose - Thank you! Regardless it's always nice to hear! :)

    Wendy aka Misswendiki - I'll enter you, but have you read any Japanese literature that you'd recommend?

    Ramya - Thank you! I've heard of The Scent of Sake but haven't read it yet. It does sound interesting, thanks.

    bookoholic13 - Thanks! I haven't heard of that collection of stories by Mishima, I'm going to have to look it up. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Happy Reader - Thank you! I've got your name in for the calendar.

    Book Bird Dog - Thank you! Time does fly by! I'm looking forward to reading Real World sometime, and of course more Murakami!

    The Holistic Knitter - Thanks, those are great recommendations. I agree with you about Out which I've read, and the other two are on my list.

    Cristina - Hi! Thanks for stopping by. So have you read any great Japanese fiction?

  41. I'm behind in blog reading once again, but I wanted to pop in and say Happy 3rd Blogiversary! I wish you many more!

    Diary of an Eccentric

  42. Anna - Thank you! I hope to be blogging for a while yet. :)


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