The Top 50 Japanese Novels of 2015


The Top 50 Japanese Novels of 2015

Japanese Writers' House & Da Vinci



Here’s the bestseller list from the January issue of Da Vinci—one of Japan’s leading book review and cultural magazines—showing the top fifty bestselling Japanese novels published between October 2014 and September 2015. The list reflects nationwide sales data collected through polling various networks, including major bookstores. Japanese Writer’s House is proud to present this essential bestseller list in English, made possible by our collaboration with KADOKAWA, the publisher of Da Vinci. Do take a look!





Hibana [Sparks]

Naoki Matayoshi
Bungeishunju Ltd.

Pondering the essence of "comedy" in an excessively stoic manner is the comedian Kamiya. Looking up to him is his frustrated junior Tokunaga. This is the story of the struggles between dreams and reality and the two comedian's deep relationship which won the 153rd Akutagawa Award. This is the first time that a comedian has won the Akutagawa Award in its 80 year long history.



Kimi no Suizo wo tabetai [I want to eat your pancreas]

Yoru Sumino
Futabansha Publishers Ltd.

My classmate, Sakura Yamauchi, has died. Let me read to you the last message I sent her. "I want to eat your pancreas. Did she read this message I wonder?
    What is the real meaning behind the title? More than a simple tearjerker born from the love of one fighting illness, witty dialog and a refreshing sensation from reading set this debut work apart from the rest.



Rapurasu no majo [Laplace's witch]

Keigo Higashino

Takeo, a former policeman, has taken up the position of a bodyguard for a certain girl. What is the identity this mysterious girl who can seemingly predict the future? Around the same time, a man died having inhaled hydrogen sulfide upon visiting a hot spring. In order to investigate the cause a university professor named Aoe visited the scene, only to soon find himself caught up in a whirlpool of conspiracy.



Uchoten kazoku: ni-dai-me no kicyo [The eccentric family: second homecoming]

Tomihiko Morimi
Gentosha Inc.

For the first time in 7 years comes the continuation of the bizarre drama in which Tanuki, Tengu and humans coexist in Kyoto. Living a carefree life while occasionally meddling with humans is Yasaburo Shimogamo, a Tanuki and the third son of the Shimogamo family. However, the old Tengu, Professor Akadama's "successor" suddenly returns from England. The once peaceful city changed completely.



Saraba! [Farewell!]

Kanako Nishi
Shogakukan Inc.

The year is 1977. Born in Iran is the Akutsu Family's eldest son Ayumu, his trouble maker sister and his mother with her strong sense of beauty. Together with their quiet father they grow as a family as they travel between Osaka and Egypt. However, the spark of life that he should have obtained during childhood suddenly disappears... This masterpiece is the winner of the 2015 Bookstore Award and 152nd Naoki Prize.



Asa ga kuru [Morning comes]

Mizuki Tsujimura
Bungeishunju Ltd.

Just as a married couple at the end of infertility treatment took in a child through special adoption, a lady claiming to be the child's real mother suddenly appears asking for his return. Amongst the conflict between the side who took the child in and the side who gave the child up, what sort of hope do they see for the future?




Ryo Asai
Bungeishunju Ltd.

Performing live at Budokan was the goal of idol group NEXT YOU. However, as they gained recognition, negative opinions also increased... This is the story of a modern idol group who is struggling to maintain the idol image.



Captain Thunder Bolt

Kazushige Abe, Kotaro Isaka
Bungeishunju Ltd.

On the night of the Great Tokyo Air Raid did a B29 crash in the northeast? Seeking an opportunity to get rich quick, two men bogged down with life dashed forward. This is the combined effort of two popular writer's four years of hard work.



Kasei ni sumu tsumori kai? [Life on Mars?]

Kotaro Isaka

The execution of an innocent person amongst false accusations is a festival. In a society ruled by the "Peace Police,” public executions via guillotine are commonplace. Amidst this society that is shrouded in a feeling of confinement, who is this strange hero dressed in black?



10  Tantei no Tantei IV [Detective versus detectives IV]

Keisuke Matsuoka
Kodansha Bunko

In Detective versus Detectives III, Rena Sasaki managed to get revenge on the "Shinigami (God of Death)" that killed her little sister. Spending her days in lethargy, Rena, bounces back upon hearing of serial killings happening in a Tokyo Prison. This is the 4th and final book in the series.



11  Biburia koshodo no jiken techo 6: Shioriko-san to meguru sadame [Biblia antique bookstore incident notebook: Shioriko's destiny]

En Mikami
MediaWorks Bunko

Returning to Biblia Antique Bookstore was the dangerous antique book maniac who had pushed Shioriko down a flight stone steps in order to steal the First Edition copy of Dazai Osamu's The Late Years. What could the strange request concerning Dazai that this man brings be?



12  Ryu [Flow]

Akira Higashiyama

Taipei, 1975. Fuhrer Chiang Kai-shek fell from power, and my loving grandfather was murdered. The 17 year old high school junior threw down his studies to pursue the culprit; from Taiwan to Japan, and then to China. This is the record of one family's wandering and determination.



13  Sayonara, Niruvana [Goodbye, nirvana]

Misumi Kubo
Bungeishunju Ltd.

A 7 year old little girl was killed, and her head was left in front of the Church by Suspect A. The lives of him, a high school girl he's infatuated with, the mother of the little girl he killed and a middle-aged aspiring writer become complicatedly intertwined. Based on the Kobe Child Murders of 1997.



14  Reverse

Kanae Minato

Your everyday salary-man Fukase, fell in love with a girl named Mihoko who he met at a cafe; however, a letter from an unknown sender stating, "Fukase is a murderer!" was delivered to Mihoko. What sort of unfortunate accident happened in the past?



15  Scrap and Build

Keisuke Hada
Bungeishunju Ltd.

"Hurry and pick me up" grumbles the elderly man in nursing care every day. He lives with his unemployed grandchild, Kento, who was unsympathetic... Together with Hibana [Sparks], Scrap and Build received the 153rd Akutagawa Award.



16  Kyodan X [Religious organization X]

Fuminori Nakamura
Shueisha Inc.

Operating in secrecy in order to from the Public Security Police for having committed murders is a mysterious cult organization. Having witnessed a girl disappear before his eyes, Narazaki, learns that she had connections with that organization. Despite the dangers he chooses to infiltrate the organization.



17  Eizen Karukaya kaiitan[Themeda caretaker ghost stories]

Fuyumi Ono

A door that opens no matter how many times it is closed. The sound of a bell and a girl in a black kimono. "Something" lurks within the ceiling of the old samurai residence. The many mysteries surrounding the residence are explained by its caretaker, Ohata. Manga artist Yuki Urushibara of Mushishi is responsible for the cover art.



18  Caroling

Hiro Arikawa
Gentosha Inc.

An employee of a children's clothing maker that will go bankrupt on Christmas, the colleague of a former lover and a boy who wishes for his separated parents to get back together, and delinquents who have lost themselves in underground jobs. For these people seeking love, will Christmas Eve bring them a miracle?



19  Renge no chigiri: Shussebana [Lotus flower pledge]

Kaoru Takada
Kadokawa Haruki Corporation

A temple specializing in funerals, cleansing the remains of the deceased and their ties to life. Constantly in her heart is her father's last moment. From the writer of Mi wo Tsukushi Ryoricho comes the continuation of Shussebana.



20  O to Sakasu [Kings and circuses]

Honobu Yonezawa
Tokyo Sogensha Co., Ltd.

After leaving her job at a newspaper company in 2001, Machi, accepted a job from a friend and left for Nepal. However, Machi's journalist side takes over when she hears of the royal family murders that took place within the Royal Palace and decides to investigate the gruesome case.



21  Kami-sama no karute 0 [In his chart 0]

Sosuke Natsukawa

This is the prequel to the hit series In His Chart which has sold over 3 million copies and had 2 live-action film adaptations. This side-story chronicles Ichito's youth before the National Medical Practitioners Qualifying Exam, his days as a medical intern and his wife, Haru's conviction as a mountain photographer.



22  Okitegami Kyoko no biboroku [The memorandum of Kyoko Okitegami]

Isin Nisio

"Her disability is... lapse of memory.” Kyoko Okitegami is a white haired detective who's memories are reset every day. Before she forgets the details, Kyoko must quickly solve the case. Isin Nisio brings us his new detective story.



23  Kasa wo motanai ari tachi ha [The ants who don't have an umbrella]

Shigeaki Kato

"Stain,” an Art University student's tale of a short yet intense romance. "Undress,” the cynically told story of an elite salary-man surrounded by irrationality, and more. Bringing to the forefront ones innocence and nature is this collection of 6 short stories.



24  Ijinkan garo: genso teien to wana no aru fukei [Consulate gallery: the illusion park and trick landscape]

Mizue Tani
Shueisha Bunko

Residing on an isolated island in the Seto Inland Sea is a collector of Bruegel paintings. When an iconography scholar named Chikage pays him a visit she discovers that the owner is an eccentric and troublesome person. Soon she and her childhood friend Toma get caught up an incident.



25  Gankake: shin yoidore Kotoji 2 [A player: new drunken Kotoji 2]

Yasuhide Saeki
Bunshun Bunko

Living in a tenement house while making a living polishing and sharpening things is Kotoji. However, recently people have been showing up to worship him, give him an applause and even offer him money. Around the same time, a quarrel between disciples at the Meyanagi School where his lover Oryo is has broken out.



26  Ano ie ni kurasu yonin no onna [The four women who live in that house]

Shiwon Miura

Sachi, age 37, embroidery artist, single. Living together with her nearly 70 year old mother in their old western style house. Coming to live with them is Yukino who is the same age as Sachi and Sachi's junior Taemi. Thus their time living together starts. This is a modern retelling of The Makioka Sisters according to Miura Shiwon.



27  Naomi to Kanako [Naomi & Kanako]

Hideo Okuda
Gentosha Inc.

Naomi is an office worker for a department store; Kanako is a housewife who endures the domestic violence of her husband. The two have been best friends since their school days and have now decided to be "accomplices.” A thrilling fugitive story with a vivid end finale. This suspense novel you'll want to read in one sitting.



28  Nagai iiwake [A long excuse]

Miwa Nishikawa
Bungeishunju Ltd.

His wife of many years passed away all too soon in a sudden traffic accident. However, be it through his twisted affection for his wife, her husband and popular writer, showed no sign of sadness. A theatrical release starting Masahiro Motoki is set to release in 2016.



29  Sugisarishi okoku no shiro [The forgotten kingdom's castle]

Miyuki Miyabe

A sketch of an old castle that was picked up by chance. Should you draw an avatar of yourself within the sketch, then you can step into its world. Shin is a boy with few friends and together with Tamami, a girl excluded from society, they decide to set out on an adventure.



30  Kami-sama no goyonin [God's steward 4]

Natsu Asaba
MediaWorks Bunko

The popular series about a character who takes an interest in granting the wishes of the Gods. Ama-no-Michine-no-Mikoto's wish? Discover the identity of the woman who appears in her dreams every night saying "never forget.”...



31  Bakemono no ko [The boy and the beast]

Mamoru Hosoda
Kadokawa Bunko

From Shibuya Center into the Beast Kingdom wanders a lonely little boy. Will the boy become Kumatetsu, The Beast Lord's disciple? Bakemono no ko was personally written by Mamoru Hosoda, the director of the anime adaptation.



32  Nairupachi no jyoshikai [The nile perch girl party]

Asako Yuzuki
Bungeishunju Ltd.

Eriko, a beautiful worker for a major trading firm, and Shoko, a popular blogger and housewife, thought for sure that they would become good friends... The violent emotions of two women is painted in this Yamamoto Shugoro Prize winning novel.



33  Edo Sagashi [Edo search]

Megumi Hatakenaka

It's the Meiji Era and Edo is started to be referred to as Tokyo. Searching for their reincarnated Young Master at night in Ginza is Nikichi and his men. However, an incident awaits him when they visit a newspaper company.....



34  3ji no Akko-chan [3 o'clock Akko-chan]

Asako Yuzuki

A barrage of witty remarks you'll be sure to remember. Bursting with vitality is Ms. Comeback! The anticipated continuation of Akko-chan's Lunch, sure to bring courage and joy to working women.



34  Tomei kamereon [Transparent chameleon]

Shusuke Michio

Behind Kyotaro's dull appearance is radio DJ with a voice too good to be true. One day, if by freak accident, at his favorite bar Kyotaro gets caught up in a murder plan with other regulars...



36  Toshokan no majo: karasu no dengon [Library witch: the crow's message]

Daisuke Takada

This is the continuation of the Mephisto Prize Winner Toshokan no majo. In order to rescue the Princess, the people of the mountains, soldiers and orphans attempt to solve the riddles of a world wrapped in conspiracy using the "power of words.”



37  Old Terrorist

Ryu Murakami
Bungeishunju Ltd.

"Reset a rotten Japan.” Unable to resist the urge of righteous indignation are 11 elderly men commanding social status and honor. This urge leads to their silent execution of gruesome terrorist acts.



38  Chanpon tabetaka! [I wanted to eat chanpon!]

Masashi Sada
NHK Publishing Co., Ltd.

With aspirations of becoming a violinist, Masashi Sada moved from Nagasaki to Tokyo while still in Middle School. However, the reality of a town with no chanpon, such as Tokyo, was rough. This is the autobiographical novel of Masashi Sada's youth.



39  Bushido Generation

Tetsuya Honda
Bungeishunju Ltd.

After graduating University, Sanae quickly got married. On the other hand, Kaori spent her days teaching at Kiriya Dojo, until crisis came... the Dojo will close!? Read the finale of the Bushido series.



40  Hitan no mon [Gate of grief]

Miyuki Miyabe

A outbreak of strange serial murders in which the victims toes are severed after death has started. Will a college student who is chasing after internet rumors of the culprit and a former detective possessed by the mystery of the "moving gargoyle statue" pursue the mystery?



41  Tsubasa wo motsu shojo: BIS biburio batorubu [The girl with wings: BIS Biblio Battle Club]

Hiroshi Yamamoto
Tokyo Sogensha Co., Ltd.

Enrolling Bishin International Academy, also known as BIS High School, is a Sci-Fi book maniac named Sora Fushiki. Accepting an invitation from a classmate, she joins the Biblio Battle Club who is set to hold the "Intellectual Book Review Battle.”



42  Chotto ima kara shigoto yametekuru [I'll quit work shortly]

Emi Kitagawa
MediaWorks Bunko

In his first year after entering a company that exploits its employees, Takashi, with his mind and body against the wall unconsciously attempts to jump down onto the train tracks. It is there that an old classmate calling himself Yamamoto appears.



43  Zekkyo [Scream]

Aki Hamanaka

Eaten in her room by a cat, the skeleton of a girl was found. What sort of life did this ordinary woman, Yoko Suzuki, follow. The crying of a soul is depicted in this suspense masterpiece.



43  Here Comes the Sun: Tokyo Bandwagon

Yukiya Shoji
Shueisha Inc.

This time there is a ghost disturbance at the well-established antique bookstore "Tokyo Bandwagon"!? This is the 10th volume in this home drama series about very peculiar yet lovable family and the mysterious events they solve in their everyday lives.



45  Zessho [Poem]

Kanae Minato
SHINCHOSHA Publishing Co., Ltd.

Amongst despair after losing her twins sisters in the earthquake, Yukie, paid a visit to the southern island of Tonga. The Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995 is the motif of this carefully spun tale about the sorrow and anguish of loss.



46  Nagai owakare [The long goodbye]

Kyoko Nakajima
Bungeishunju Ltd.

Her husband became cognitively impaired. His wife's name, marriage anniversary, the 3 daughters he raised, all forgotten. This is the story of the daily lives of a wife and her husband who's words, memories and intelligence are slowly forgotten.



47  Monogatari no owari [The story's end]

Kanae Minato
Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc.

Chieko has been diagnosed with cancer in her 3rd month of pregnancy. Takuma is a pro cameraman on the verge of giving up on his dream. During a trip to Hokkaido alone he receives an unfinished book titled, Beyond the Sky....



48  Naritai [I want to be...]

Megumi Hatakenaka
SHINCHOSHA Publishing Co., Ltd.

Despite his weak constitution, the young master got happily engaged. In order to become and adult he enthusiastically attempted to learn his job; however, the end result was that in only 3 days he already slept in... 14th volume in the Shabake [Ambitions] series.



49  Shinrei tantei Yakumo 9: sukui no tamashii [Psychic detective Yakumo 9]

Manabu Kaminaga
Kadokawa Bunko

Psychic Detective Yakumo is able to see the spirits of the dead through his red left eye; before him appears the vengeful spirit of his former classmate's little sister. Around the same time in a deep within forest, a couple discovered the body of a murder victim....



50  The Mind Quencher

Hiroshi Mori

The sudden enemy raid plunged Zen into a predicament. In the face of their incomparable speed and agile movements, he quietly prepared for his end. A serene and sharp swordsman novel.



50  Dazai Osamu no jisho [Dazai's dictionary]

Kaoru Kitamura
SHINCHOSHA Publishing Co., Ltd.

Akutagawa's Butokai [The Ball], Dazai's Schoolgirl. As if being led by Enshi's words "I" became a mother's junior high school son in order to learn the mysteries of the literary master's works. This is the anticipated new entry in the Watashi [I] series.