This post contains affiliate links. I’m a big fan of historical fiction. While history class can be dry and boring with just a few lines devoted to an event, historical fiction brings those events to life and shows how everyday people were affected. Over the years, I’ve shared a lot of book reviews. Today, I want to share the best historical fiction set in Japan that I’ve read to date. (If you have a favorite book in this genre, please share in the comments!)
Best Historical Fiction Set in Japan
Since I really enjoy reading WWII historical fiction, most of these books are set during that time.
How We Disappeared
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee told a side of WWII that I never knew about. The main character, Wang Di is living in Singapore during the Japanese occupation. While she lived a comfortable, sheltered life, at 17, the Japanese kidnapped her to become a “comfort woman”, which is a nice name for a horrible existence. I loved, loved, loved this book. Unfortunately, I was highly dissatisfied with the last two pages of the book.
White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht, is about a Korean woman, Hana, who is kidnapped to become a comfort woman. This story doesn’t just focus on Hana’s experience, but also her younger sister, Emi. Thanks to Hana’s bravery, the men who kidnap Hana do not kidnap Emi. Emi lives with the guilt for the rest of her life. However, this book makes clear that all of the people in the story suffer in one way or another.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee tells the story of three generations of Koreans living in Japan. While the first half of the story is gripping, the second half loses focus a bit. This could be because Lee introduces so many characters, the reader has difficulty connecting with them. However, this book does give insight as to what it would be like to live in Japan during turbulent times.
Above the East China Sea
Above the East China Sea by Sarah Bird has two main characters, Luz, a teenage army brat living in modern times and Tamiko, a teenager living during World War II. Both women reside in Japan, and when their stories eventually intertwine, the story is amazing! Be forewarned that the first 40 pages or so are slow, but I promise, you’ll be glad to read this book.
I hope you enjoyed this list of the best historical fiction set in Japan. I’ll keep adding as I read more books related to this genre. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!