10 books like Tonoharu

By Lars Martinson,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Tonoharu. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

The Roads to Sata

By Alan Booth,

Book cover of The Roads to Sata: A 2000-mile walk through Japan

This travelogue brilliantly narrates Alan Booth’s southward trek across Japan, end to end, from Cape Soya in Hokkaido to Cape Sata in Kyushu. The book’s subtitle, A 2,000 Mile Walk Through Japan, speaks volumes. The journey, which some would call masochistic, is practically measured in blisters. We see Booth, fluent in Japanese, trudge through rain and shine along backcountry roads, from greasy spoons to lonesome karaoke bars, collapsing into countless futons along the way. His journey comes to life with colorful characters, boozy local festivals, and pithy realizations about his adopted homeland, at turns entertaining, illuminating, and hilarious. For me, this book captures the joy of discovering the salty, unexpected side of Japan. It also cements Booth’s status as one of the (unsung) travel writing greats.  

The Roads to Sata

By Alan Booth,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Roads to Sata as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A memorable, oddly beautiful book' Wall Street Journal

'A marvellous glimpse of the Japan that rarely peeks through the country's public image' Washington Post

One sunny spring morning in the 1970s, an unlikely Englishman set out on a pilgrimage that would take him across the entire length of Japan. Travelling only along small back roads, Alan Booth travelled on foot from Soya, the country's northernmost tip, to Sata in the extreme south, traversing three islands and some 2,000 miles of rural Japan. His mission: 'to come to grips with the business of living here,' after having spent most of his…


Tokyo Vice

By Jake Adelstein,

Book cover of Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan

In stark contrast to Roads To Sata, Tokyo Vice is a grim and gritty exposé on the Tokyo underworld that shows there's much more to Japan than sumo, sushi and Hello Kitty. Written by Jake Adelstein, an American fluent in Japanese who spent 12 years working as a crime reporter for a leading Japanese daily newspaper, we get to see the dark side of Japan.

Following the exploits of the Yakuza (the Japanese mafia), Adelstein explores an underworld of murders, prostitution and human trafficking - a Japan that few people realise exists. Both fascinating and disturbing in parts, we learn how entwined organised crime is in Japan, how the Yakuza are viewed by the public and how they operate as legal entities - with registered offices and even business cards.

Tokyo Vice is a truly fascinating read for anyone interested in Japan, the mafia or crime. But beware; you'll never…

Tokyo Vice

By Jake Adelstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tokyo Vice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A riveting true-life tale of newspaper noir and Japanese organised crime from an American investigative journalist. Soon to be a Max Original Series on HBO Max

----------

EITHER ERASE THE STORY, OR WE'LL ERASE YOU. AND MAYBE YOUR FAMILY. BUT WE'LL DO THEM FIRST, SO YOU LEARN YOUR LESSON BEFORE YOU DIE.

From the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police press club: a unique, first-hand, revelatory look at Japanese culture from the underbelly up.

At nineteen, Jake Adelstein went to Japan in search of peace and tranquility. What he got was a…


Minka

By John Roderick,

Book cover of Minka: My Farmhouse in Japan

Minka is the true story of an American AP correspondent who, reluctantly at first, fell into buying a 250 year-old traditional Japanese farmhouse for a pittance (it was in an area soon to be flooded by dam construction) had it disassembled, transported, and re-built in the rural outskirts of Tokyo.

It's an insight into two aspects of Japan; firstly the rural, artisan side as Roderick befriends a family from Gifu and uses many of the rural folk from the prefecture for their carpentry skills, and secondly it provides us with an interesting view on some of the high society that Roderick mixes with, being a well-connected ex-pat (Hilary Clinton once visits his house!).

Roderick writes with a good deal of humor, and his love and knowledge of Japan makes him a welcome guide as he takes us through the quirks and curios of Japan during the ‘60s and ‘70s. The…

Minka

By John Roderick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Minka as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1959 journalist John Roderick joined the Tokyo bureau of the Associated Press. There, he befriended a Japanese family, the Takishitas. After musing offhandedly that he would like to one day have his own house in Japan, the family unbeknownst to Johnset out to grant his wish. They found Roderick a 250-year-old minka, or hand-built farmhouse, with a thatched roof and held together entirely by wooden pegs and joinery. It was about to be washed away by flooding and was being offered for only fourteen dollars. Roderick graciously bought the house, but was privately dismayed at the prospect of living…


Inaka

By John Grant Ross,

Book cover of Inaka: Portraits of Life in Rural Japan

This anthology contains a collection of 18 different accounts by non-Japanese authors who have all spent extended time living in rural Japan. Arranged geographically, from Okinawa to Hokkaido, the book offers a diverse view of pastoral Japan, allowing readers to get insight into some of the less commonly known aspects of the country.

The topics covered range from Buddhist pilgrimages, to pottery; abandoned Shinto shrines to record snowfalls; romance to ryokan. This is a great book for anyone who’s interested in learning about life outside of Japan’s megacities. Most of the authors included have written other works, so it’s a great taster to sample some different flavours of storytelling, to see which pique your interest for more.

Inaka

By John Grant Ross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inaka as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inaka: Portraits of Life in Rural Japan is an affectionate but unsentimental immersion into the Japanese countryside ("inaka"). In eighteen chapters we undertake an epic journey the length of Japan, from subtropical Okinawa, through the Japanese heartland, all the way to the wilds of Hokkaido. We visit gorgeous islands, walk an ancient Buddhist pilgrimage route, share a snow-lover's delight in the depths of record snowfall, solve the mystery of an abandoned Shinto shrine, and travel in the footsteps of a seventeenth-century haiku master. But above everything, Inaka answers the question of what it's like to be a foreigner living in…


Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

By Yusen Kashiwahara, Koyu Sonoda,

Book cover of Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

This book includes twenty full and seventy-five brief biographies of significant figures in the history of Japanese Buddhism, some of them orthodox, many of them eccentric, each contributing some unique genius to the living tradition from the sixth century up to modern times. An excellent way to enter the spirit of the tradition with many stories to enjoy.

Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

By Yusen Kashiwahara, Koyu Sonoda,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shapers of Japanese Buddhism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

More than thirteen centuries of clergy, laity, and social conditions interacted to mold Japan's Buddhism. Today's resulting characteristics, which distinguish it from its mainland sources, include a proliferation of independent sects, emphasis on religion for lay members, and de-emphasis of clerical codes. The twenty main biographies and seventy-five sketches presented in this book reveal both the individual and social aspects of Buddhist evolution and in Japan, spanning from the sixth through twentieth centuries. They cover the many separate interchanges that brought Buddhist texts and practices from Korea and China as well as the innovations that arose in Japan.


Ennin's Travels in T'ang China

By Edwin O. Reischauer,

Book cover of Ennin's Travels in T'ang China

This book is also old but I have always loved it. It’s the best thing ever written by Edwin Reischauer, the pioneer historian of Japan and also US Ambassador to that country during the Kennedy administration. It follows Ennin, a ninth-century Japanese Buddhist monk, on his visit to the glorious and cosmopolitan Tang empire in China together with a group of Japanese diplomats. Travel then was very different from travel now; to go by ship across the East China Sea was to take your very life into your hands. What an adventure!

Ennin's Travels in T'ang China

By Edwin O. Reischauer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ennin's Travels in T'ang China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book, a reconstruction of daily life and ways of thought in China during the ninth century, is based on an extensive travel diary of that time. The diarist Ennin was a Japanese Buddhist monk who went to China in AD 838 in search of new Buddhist texts and further enlightenment in his faith. While journeying through North China, and living in Ch’ang-an, he recorded in detail what he saw and experienced.

Edwin O. Reischauer presents—often in Ennin’s own words—a series of vignettes of various aspects of life in the Far East in medieval times: embassies and the conduct of…


Honen the Buddhist Saint

By Joseph A. Fitzgerald, Harper Havelock Coates, Ryugaku Ishizuka

Book cover of Honen the Buddhist Saint: Essential Writings and Official Biography

Honen Sangha (1133-1212) revolutionised Japanese Buddhism. Famous in his own time yet exiled near to the end of his life he introduced an approach to practice that embraced ordinary people and appealed to all ranks of society. His mould breaking innovation paved the way for the emergence of the several new schools that still dominate the Buddhist scene in Japan today. and his humanity and warmth of character still inspire.

Honen the Buddhist Saint

By Joseph A. Fitzgerald, Harper Havelock Coates, Ryugaku Ishizuka

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Honen the Buddhist Saint as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Priest, saint, and founder of the independent school of Pure Land (Jodo) Buddhism in 12th century Japan, Honen Shonin's importance has been largely unrecognised in the West, even though his legacy includes over twenty million living practitioners of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan. "Honen the Buddhist Saint: His Life And Teachings" is the first and only English translation of a biography of this remarkable man. Edited by Joseph A. Fitzgerald, this edition combines illustrations from Japanese religious sites as well as Honen's own words which allow him to speak "from across the ages", to any human being, Buddhist or non-Buddhist,…


Japanese Temple Buddhism

By Stephen Covell,

Book cover of Japanese Temple Buddhism: Worldliness in a Religion of Renunciation

Most books on Buddhism emphasise the monastic tradition, meditation and a life of strict morality, removed from the everyday world of ordinary people. Much of Japanese Buddhism, however, is conducted by married priests living modern lives in direct interaction with secular society. This book provides an important antidote to contemporary stereotypes.

Japanese Temple Buddhism

By Stephen Covell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanese Temple Buddhism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There have been many studies that focus on aspects of the history of Japanese Buddhism. Until now, none have addressed important questions of organization and practice in contemporary Buddhism, questions such as how Japanese Buddhism came to be seen as a religion of funeral practices; how Buddhist institutions envision the role of the laity; and how a married clergy has affected life at temples and the image of priests. This volume is the first to address fully contemporary Buddhist life and institutions - topics often overlooked in the conflict between the rhetoric of renunciation and the practices of clerical marriage…


The Monk Who Dared

By Ruth M. Tabrah,

Book cover of The Monk Who Dared

A gripping work of fiction constructed around the known facts of the life of Shinran, the founder of Shin Buddhism which is today the largest denomination in Japan. The novel reveals a thorough appreciation of the social climate and circumstances while telling the tale of Shinran who - “neither monk nor layman” - carried forward the religious revolution of the Kamakura period.

The Monk Who Dared

By Ruth M. Tabrah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Monk Who Dared as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


The Wild, White Goose

By Roshi P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett,

Book cover of The Wild, White Goose: The Diary of a Female Zen Priest

This is a diary of an English woman who moved to Japan in the 1950s to study Zen at one of the most prestigious temples at the time and become the first female to be sanctioned by the Soto School of Japan to teach in the West. The diary takes us through her years of arduous training in Japan, through the challenges that beset her, and gives a truly moving account of her brilliant mindset throughout her grueling ordeal to become a Zen priest. 

The Wild, White Goose

By Roshi P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wild, White Goose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book, first published as two volumes in 1977 and 1978, was published purely for the purpose of showing how Buddhist training was done by the Reverend Jiyu-Kennett in the Far East. The material for the book was taken from diaries covering eight years spent by the author in Far Eastern temples, and describe her religious training and her growth of a Zen priest into a teacher, running her own temple.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Japan, Buddhism, and China?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Japan, Buddhism, and China.

Japan Explore 371 books about Japan
Buddhism Explore 189 books about Buddhism
China Explore 434 books about China