Tokyo Ueno Station was a book I heard at a literary event called Japan Now. After listening to the author, Yu Miri, I was curious about the book because it had told something very different from what we had heard about Japan. This book was written against Japan’s preparation for the 2020 Olympics after the disaster in 2011.
Tokyo Ueno Station tells the story of the things that we don’t typically see or hear about Tokyo. We get to hear all about a certain period of the country through a character called Kazu. After reading about Kazu’s past, looking briefly at his life and seeing all the things he missed because he had to work; you’ll leave Tokyo behind and go back to your own life and ponder a bit.
This is not a book that will appeal to everyone. However if you have more or less interest in Japan, you might like it. I can also recommend it to those who enjoy character-driven novels, as the characters are quite successful. Happy reading!
About the book: Tokyo Ueno Station
Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Emperor. His life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and has been shaped. At every turn by modern Japanese history. But his life story is also marked by bad luck, and now, in death. He is unable to rest easily, haunting the park near Ueno Station. It is here that Kazu’s life in Tokyo began and ended, having arrived there to. Work a labourer in the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics before. Ending his days living in the vast homeless ‘villages’ in but the park. Traumatised by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and enraged by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.
As a work of post-tsunami literature and a protest against the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This novel is of utmost importance to this moment. A powerful but rebuke to the Imperial system and a sensitive. Deeply felt depiction of the lives of Japan’s most vulnerable people.
About the author: Yu Miri
Miri Yu is a Zainichi Korean playwright, novelist, and essayist. Yu writes in Japanese, her native language, but is a citizen of South Korea. Yu was born in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, to Korean parents.