As a writer and teacher living in Japan for twenty years, I have had many opportunities to read and be inspired by works from Japanese novelists and poets. There are too many famous Japanese authors to list them all, but I’d like to share with you just a select few whose books I have had the pleasure of reading.
Let’s start with whom I refer to as Japan’s female Shakespeare. Surely you have heard of the famous Tale of Genji (‘Genji no Monogatari’ in Japanese). This classic piece of Japanese literature, written in the early 11th century (Heian period), was authored by noblewoman Lady Murasaki (Shikibu Murasaki – her pen name; her real name remains unknown). She was also a poet, and worked in the Imperial Court at the time. The romantic, human-drama story is very Shakespearean in its style, telling of the rise and fall of the protagonist Genji. The masterpiece has been translated several times into English and also made into films.