Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hello Japan! May mini-challenge: Mystery and Mayhem

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there is a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.

May's Topic

Like many in the rest of the world, the Japanese also love a good mystery. Detective fiction is especially popular, but all kinds of mysteries are happily consumed on a regular basis. The top authors and TV shows are often detective stories or the writers thereof. Whether you normally read mysteries, or watch crime shows, or not, they can be a fun way to see another side of Japan that you might not experience otherwise.

May's Task

May's task is to enjoy a Japanese mystery story. For our purposes, the definition of mystery is very broad. It can include detective fiction, crime fiction, suspense thriller, or basically any story that involves a mystery of some kind.

The easiest way to complete this month's task is to read a mystery novel by a Japanese author. Although only a very small percentage of the mysteries published in Japan have been translated into English or other languages, there are still some good ones to choose from. From Edogawa Rampo, "who played a major role in the development of Japanese mystery fiction" to more contemporary authors such as Miyuki Miyabe, or Keigo Higashino. Miyuki Miyabe's The Sleeping Dragon won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award in 1992, and Keigo Higashino's Naoko won it in 1999. And of course if you haven't read it yet, there is also Natsuo Kirino's popular Out. Among others.

You're not limited to only Japanese authors though. There are several non-Japanese authors who have written mystery series either set in Japan, or with Japanese characters. Such as Laura Joh Rowland, Sugata Massey, and I.J. Parker to name a few.

Check out the following links for some suggestions on Japanese mystery books and authors:
Mysteries in the Land of the Rising Sun
Mystery Writers of Japan Award

You're also welcome to watch a mystery movie. Or read a mystery-themed manga. Or a non-fiction crime story. And so on. As always, you can interpret the challenge as you like.
If you have any Japanese mystery or crime stories that you've read and would recommend, please share them in the comments.

May's Prize

This month's prize is one Japanese mystery novel of your choice. Please note that it must be available to purchase online (I will be ordering it for you from The Book Depository) and it can be up to $15 in price.

You can complete this month's mini-challenge by writing a blog post, telling us about what you did, and adding a link to your post, or by simply leaving a comment with your answer(s) on this post. If you prefer, you can also email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com with your submission. You are welcome to post or comment more than once and add the relevant links below. I love it when you are enthusiastic about a topic! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Once you have completed the task, don't forget to come back here to add your link to the Mr. Linky below. Please submit the link to the actual post, not just to your top page, and please only submit links to posts relating to the Hello Japan! task for this month. Any other links will be deleted. Thank you for your understanding.

The small print: Links in this post to Amazon contain my Associates ID. Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission. For more information please visit my About Page.


  1. I have watched the anime of xxxHolic and I think that for this challenge, I might give the manga a go :) It is a series that I enjoyed a few years back :)

  2. I recommend the detective novels by Seicho Matsumoto set in late 1960s - Inspector Imanishi Investigates, Points & Lines and The Voice & Other Stories.

  3. Hi, Owl59 here.
    I am happy to see this month 's challenge because Japan has produced many good mysteries.
    I highly recommend “All She Was Worth” by Miyuki Miyabe. Story besings: A young woman disappears when a credit check uncovers a bankruptcy in her past and the woman's fiance asks his uncle, disabled police detective, to track her down. It shows the dark side of Japanese Society and details of characters are well written, like “Out” by Natsuo Kirino. But unlike Kirino’s work, this didn’t depress me. I think there is some light in Miyabe’s novel although it is a murder mystery (but not Who Done It type). I hope the future reader of this book will feel the same.

  4. if I dont have too many TBR books, I would love to reread the tokyo zodiac murder, a very impressive novel.

    Nat, if I write my own mystery story that take place in Japan, would that count? I have been praticing writing for the past 2 months.

  5. Keigo Higashino currently only has two of his novels translated into English, Naoko and The Devotion of Suspect X. I enjoyed both of them immensely.

    I've only read Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe which is one of her fantasy works. I think I'll need to give one of her mysteries a try, too!

  6. I have checked the list in wikipedia. Unfortunately, I could not find any books of Ryu Murakami. I think His book of Miso Soup belong to the Mystery and Crime Fiction as well.

    I plan to write about it. Also a book that you mention above. Out

  7. I've sent you my submission via e-mail, hope it's okay;)

  8. Uniflame - Like I said on your review, I actually read vol. 1 of xxxHolic a while back and didn't really care for it, but maybe I'll have to give it another try sometime.

    Bee - Thanks for the recommendations! I'll look them up.

    sumit - Mysteries seem to be really popular in Japan. I agree that Miyabe's books are much lighter than some others like Kirino's Out. They're nice when you don't want something too dark and heavy.

    Novroz - I remember you talking about The Tokyo Zodiac Murder when you first read it. It's on my wish list so one of these days...

    Ash - I'm looking forward to reading both of Higashino's books. And now having read a few of Miyabe's mysteries I'm quite curious to try one of her fantasy stories.

    Aleetha - Sorry I didn't reply to you sooner! Yes, I think In the Miso Soup would easily qualify as a mystery or crime fiction.

    litera - No problem at all! :)

  9. I submitted a late contribution to Mystery and Mayhem!

    What do you mean "I'm not eligible for the prize anymore"? LOL


Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I love hearing from you and I read every single one!

P.S. In an effort to eliminate spam, I moderate all comments, so there will most likely be a delay between when you submit the comment and when it appears on the post. Please let me know if you have any trouble leaving comments here, and you can also chat with me on Twitter, if you prefer. Happy Reading!