The Night Time Picnic

More than 800,000 copies were sold, including paperbacks published in Sept. 2006. A film based on the novel was released in Sept. 2006. The novel is now translated into Chinese, Korean, and possibly into Thai, but no European language. Many adult readers as much as teenagers are attracted to the story, and its basic themes - the feud between half-siblings, parents and children, true friendship - are universal.
AuthorRiku Onda
ISBN978 - 4101234175
CategoryLiterature & Fiction
PublicationSeptember, 2006
Estimated length455P
Size152 × 108 mm
Toru is a high school senior boy, preparing for university entrance exams early next year. In his school, there is a unique annual event, a walk festival, during which all the students walk 80 kilometers, or nearly 50 miles, from morning till the next morning, with only a short nap in the wee hours. Although the return journey is a free race, the main purpose of the event is simply to walk, walk and talk. It is an exhausting yet unforgettable event. For seniors, it is also the last event before switching into a real exam mode.

This year, Toru decides to join the latter half free race with his new friend Shinobu, rather than his tennis team pals, because somehow he feels that Shinobu could be his true friend. Shinobu is also very observant, and knows that Toru is often watching a girl named Takako secretly, even if he never talks to her. Naturally Shinobu assumes that Toru fancies her.

The truth is, however, Toru and Takako are half-siblings. Nobody except for the two knows about it, and they both try to keep it a secret, especially Toru who is very ashamed of his late father having an illegitimate daughter. He can't help feeling irritated to see her innocent, cheerful face. They had only met each other once at his father's funeral before entering the same high school by accident. For the first two years, they were in different classes, but this year both are in the same class, which makes it very difficult for him to remain indifferent.

Takako, on the other hand, has a mixed feeling against Toru. Realizing that this walk festival would be her last chance, she decides to talk to him at least once. If he doesn't ignore her, and replies, she would make a further proposal to ask him to go to their father's tomb together, whom she never met.

As they go along, Takako finds out that her best friend, Miwako and their mutual friend Anna, who is now in America, both knew her secret, and have been supporting her effort to reconcile with Toru secretly. In fact, they learned about it a few years ago from her mother, who confided to them and asked for their support.

During the last exhaustive stretch, with the help of their friends, Takako and Toru finally begin to talk with each other. And to their surprise, they find it something very natural to walk and talk together. Takako changes her mind and asks Toru to come to her house and to meet her mother instead.


Unlike most of her works, this one may be called as a pure novel, with a minimum of trick or suspense. The high school students written here are ordinary, slightly above average Japanese youth in a regional city, and the whole story folds out within 24 hours during the walk festival, which is based on the author's personal experience. Yet, most readers are drawn into the story with its realistic description of the rigorous walk and natural and vivid conversation among the youth, causing a strong nostalgia for their own high school days for adult readers. Devoid of too much fiction or drama, foreign readers would find here a true picture of the majority of the Japanese, who are neither uncanny businessmen nor geishas nor wild costume players.

The novel is adapted for a film and now released from the end of September, 2006.

About the Author

Riku Onda (born in 1964) is one of the most up-and-coming authors in Japan, who has written 37 novels raging from science fiction to mystery. She experiments various styles of writing, but she almost always provides readers with plural point of views. In case of Yoru-no-picnic, the point of view changes between Toru and Takako frequently.


PublicationJanuary, 2000