Strange Weather in Tokyo – Hiromi Kawakami

Strange Weather in Tokyo is the first book I’ve read by Hiromi Kawakami, but it certainly won’t be the last. I haven’t read such an interesting and lovely love story in a long time. And as a matter of fact, I’ve never been this greedy reading a love story!


Strange Weather in Tokyo tells the story of Tsukiko and Sensei. Tsukiko is a thirty-eight-year-old woman who works in an office and lives alone. One evening, she meets Sensei, her high school Japanese teacher, at a bar she hangs out all the time. (We call him Sensei because Tsukiko can’t remember her teacher’s name.)

Strange Weather in Tokyo - Hiromi Kawakami

Sensei is thirty years older than Tsukiko. He has retired from his job and is probably alone. The story of this interesting duo begins with this encounter. What you will read from now on will turn into a love story that is about the innovations that come with the change of seasons in Japan, all the delicious food eaten (that’s why you’ll want to eat Japanese food like crazy), and the culture of the country in general.

While witnessing what these two eat, from hot sake to mushrooms and from fish to octopus, you will rediscover the autumn that comes with lightning and the spring that comes with flowers. However, if there is anything you will feel to your bones, it will be loneliness. I don’t think I’m exaggerating if I say that loneliness is a character inStrange Weather in Tokyo on its own. If you are looking for an exciting love story to read, giveStrange Weather in Tokyo a chance. Enjoy!

Strange Weather in Tokyo - Hiromi Kawakami

Strange Weather in Tokyo

‘Enchanting, moving and funny in equal measure,Strange Weather in Tokyo is expertly crafted against a backdrop of modern Japanese culture… I [was] captivated’ – Stylist

Strange Weather in Tokyo: Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, ‘Sensei’, in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass – from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms – Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love.

Perfectly constructed, funny, and moving, Strange Weather in Tokyo is a tale of modern Japan and old-fashioned romance. This edition contains the bonus story, ‘Parade’, which imagines an ordinary day in the lives of this unusual couple.

Shortlisted for the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

Strange Weather in Tokyo is a dream-like spell of a novel, full of humour, sadness, warmth and tremendous subtlety. I read this in one sitting and I think it will haunt me for a long time’ – Amy Sackville

Hiromi Kawakami

Hiromi Kawakami (Kawakami Hiromi, born 1958) is a Japanese writer known for her off-beat fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. She has won numerous Japanese literary awards, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, the Yomiuri Prize, and the Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature. Her work has been adapted for film, and has been translated into more than 15 languages.

Kawakami was born in Tokyo in 1958 and grew up in the Takaido neighbourhood of Suginami City. She graduated from Ochanomizu Women’s College in 1980.

After graduating from college Kawakami began writing and editing for NW-SF, a Japanese science fiction magazine. Her first short story, “Sho-shimoku” (“Diptera”), appeared in NW-SF in 1980. She also taught science in a middle school and high school, but became a housewife when her husband had to relocate for work.

In 1994, at the age of 36, Kawakami debuted as a writer of literary fiction with a collection of short stories entitled Kamisama (God). In 1996 Hebi wo fumi (Tread on a snake) won the Akutagawa Prize, one of Japan’s most prestigious literary awards. It was later translated into English under the title Record of a Night Too Brief.

She received the Tanizaki Prize in 2001 for her novel Sensei no kaban (The Briefcase or Strange Weather in Tokyo), a love story about a friendship and romance between a woman in her thirties and her former teacher, a man in his seventies. After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Kawakami rewrote her debut short story “Kamisama” (“God”), keeping the original plot but incorporating the events of Fukushima into the story.

In 2014 the film Nishino Yukihiko no Koi to Bōken, based on Kawakami’s 2003 novel of the same name and starring Yutaka Takenouchi and Machiko Ono, was released nationwide in Japan. That same year Kawakami’s novel Suisei was published by Bungeishunjū. Suisei won the 66th Yomiuri Prize in 2015, with selection committee member Yōko Ogawa praising the book for expanding the horizon of literature. In 2016 Kawakami’s book Ōkina tori ni sarawarenai yō, a collection of 14 short stories published by Kodansha, won the 44th Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature.

Kawakami’s work explores emotional ambiguity by describing the intimate details of everyday social interactions. Many of her stories incorporate elements of fantasy and magical realism. Her writing has drawn comparisons to Lewis Carroll and Banana Yoshimoto, and she has cited Gabriel García Márquez and J. G. Ballard as influences. Many of her short stories, novel extracts, and essays have been translated into English, including “God Bless You” (“Kamisama”), “The Moon and the Batteries” (extract from Sensei no kaban), “Mogera Wogura”,[18] “Blue Moon” and “The Ten Loves of Nishino”.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Japanese Literature – A Literary Journey

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