Kahi's website The Eggs' Farm

Digital Guide on Japan

I believe the task of a Japanese teacher is not only to tell about Japanese grammar. Students come to study Japanese often because they are interested in "something" of Japan. Therefore, in order to stimulate their motivation it is important for the teacher to share this "something" with students. As a result, they look very happy when I exchage words or opinions with them about cultural or other themes they are interested in. On this page, I introduce Japanese culture I discuss and share with my students in the classroom.








Japanese novels

One of my hobbies is reading books. I read several books a month. I choose mostly Japanese famous and award-winning books, because so many books are being published in Japan every year which makes it hard to choose without using some sort of criterium. Moreover, famous award-winning books are easy to buy when you live abroad. They can be downloaded as an ebook. Important awards in Japan are the Akutagawa prize and the Naoki prize. I introduce here some Japanese books I loved to read and I want to recommend to people, especially to those who study Japanese. Some of them have been translated and you can buy them online.



Akutagawa prize/芥川賞(あくたがわしょう)

One of the most prestigious award of the Japanese pure literature. The award is given semi-annually to an outstanding new writer. Japanese people find this prize the most important prize.

Naoki prize/直木賞(なおきしょう)

One of the most prestigious award of the Japanese popular literature. The award is given semi-annually to an outstanding writer. Many Japanese people don't know well the difference between the Akutagawa prize and this prize.

Japan Booksellers' Award/本屋大賞(ほんやたいしょう)

An annual award that is selected and given by booksellers under the motto "a novel that booksellers select and want to buy the most."

The Housekeeper and the Professor/博士の愛した数式


Yoko Ogawa won the Akutagawa prize in 1991. She also won the first prize of Japan Booksellers' Award in 2004 with this title. My students who read this novel were all impressed. This novel was made into a movie.

The Devotion Of Suspect X/容疑者Xの献身

今日本で最も人気のある推理作家東野圭吾氏の代表作。この作品で同氏は2012年に直木賞を受賞し、同年アメリカのエドガー賞Edgar Award Best Novelにもノミネートされました。映画やTVドラマにもなった人気作品です。

Keigo Higashino is now one of the most popular mistery writers in Japan. He won the Naoki prize in 2012 with this title and was nominated for an American award "Edgar Award Best Novel". He was the second Japanese writer in the same year to be nominated for this prize (unfortunately he couldn't win the prize!). This novel was made into a movie and a TV drama.



Natsuo Kirino is one of the most popular woman writers for crime fictions in Japan. Besides the Naoki prize in 1999, she won various awards in relation to mistery or crime fictions, while she was also nominated for an "Edgar Award Best Novel" with this title in 2004. She was the first Japanese writer to be nominated for this prize (unfortunately she couldn't win the prize!). This novel that is a littel bit gros, was made into a movie.

Remote Controle/ゴールデンスランバー

もう一人、日本を代表する推理作家の伊坂幸太郎氏です。この作品は2008年に本屋大賞と山本周五郎賞を同時受賞しました。直木賞は辞退したそうです。同作は映画化 されています。

One more popular mystery writer in Japan is Kootaroo Isaka. He made a lot of best-selling novels and with this title "Remote Controle (the Japanese title is "Golden slumber" that comes from a song with the same title of the Beatles), he won the first prize of Japan Booksellers' Award and the Shuugoroo Yamamoto award in 2008. However, he refused to be nominated for the Naoki prize. This novel was made into a movie.


芥川賞と山本周五郎賞という純文学、大衆文学の両賞を受賞した異彩吉田修一氏の長編犯罪小説。同氏の作品は海外でもかなり紹介されています。同作は映画化 されています。

This is a best-selling mystery fiction of Shuuji Yoshida who won both the Akutagawa prize, an award for the pure literatiure and the Shuugoroo Yamamoto award, an award for the popular literature. Many novels of him have been translated in several languages. He is one of the most familiar Japanese authors abroad. This novel was also made into a movie.

Japanese movies


To be honest, I didn't like movies until recently. Movies to me meant entertaining movies produced in the United States. They did not interest me much, nor did Japanese movies. But because of my teaching job, I started to watch Japanese movies to find good ones that could be shown in the classroom. Here, I introduce movies with Japanese artistic sensibility that popular entertaining movies do not have.


Japanese movies/邦画(ほうが)

Japanese movies are often called "hooga". "Hoo (邦)" means Japanese in this case. Since several years there is a boom of Japanese movies in Japan. It is said that more than 500 Japanese movies are produced every year. The market and movies gather attention abroad, too. These days many popular novels and mangas are made into movies.

Japan Academy Prize/日本アカデミー賞(にほんアカデミーしょう)

The most prestigious annual award given to Japanese movies since 1978.

Blue Ribbon Awards/ブルーリボン賞(ブルーリボンしょう)

An award since 1950. Eight awards are given by journalists in Tokyo who are in charge of the movie section. Besides Japan Academy Prize, we often hear the name of this prize.

Shall we dance?/Shall we ダンス?


Released in 1996. Director: Masayuki Suwa. Actors: Kooji Yakusho and Tamiyo Kusakari. Genre: Comedy. This is a unique movie which won all awards of Japan Academy Prize in 1996. The movie created a social fenomenon: a boom of ballroom dance. It was so famous that this movie was remade in America with Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez.

Love Letter


Released in 1996. Director: Shunji Iwai. Actors: Miho Nakayama and Etsuji Toyokawa. Genre: Romance. This movie didn't win the Japan Academy Prize but won various other awards. People say that this is one of the most popular Japanese Romance movie loved in Hong Kong and South Korea. The story is good and the director Iwai who is my favorite director, presents emotional masterpieces.

Be with you/いま、会いにゆきます


Released in 2004. Director: Nobuhiro Doi. Actors: Yuuko Takeuchi and Shidoo Nakamura. Genre: Fantasy romance. This movie didn't win a famous award but many reviews were positive. This shows a sad but beautiful story. There was a rumor to remake it in America but I don't know what will happen.

A Stranger of Mine/運命じゃない人


Released in 2005. Director: Kenji Uchida. Actors: Yasuhi Nakamura, Soo Yamanaka and Reika Kirishima. Genre: Comedy. This movie got quite good reviews during the Cannes Film Festival in 2005. This shows a surprising story but the reactions of my students weren't great. I don't know why, but Kenji Uchida is my favorite director.

Handsome Suite/ハンサム★スーツ


Released in 2008. Director: Tsutomu Hanabusa. Actors: Muga Tsukaji, Shoosuyke Tanihara and Keiko Kitagawa. Genre: Comedy. Originally it was a manga with the same title. I think this is really funny but I noticed not everyone seems to agree.



When I was a child, I often read baseball manga's. It was commonly accepted that manga's exsisted for children but not for adults. When I was a student at the university, we saw more and more office workers starting to read manga's in commuter trains because of the increasing success of Hokutonoken or Dragonball. However, people were critical about this new trend. Today I even see Belgian people reading manga's in the train and I feel strongly times have changed. Recently, I sometimes read manga's only as part of my work. Unlike the past, there seems to be more works nowadays that adult people can enjoy. Please don't say "It's just a manga.". Here, I introduce manga which are known abroad and interesting enough for adults.


Cartoon grand prize/マンガ大賞(マンガたいしょう)

An annual award given to manga works since 2008. The motto of this prize is a manga that people would like to recommend to their friends. Manga series that span less tha eight volumes can be nominated. The nominating committee is composed of staff members from bookstores.

The Rookie of the Year awards/新人賞(しんじんしょう)

These awards are given by many publishers to newcomers in Japan. This helps publishers to find new talented persons.



Author: Yuki Suetsugu. Won the second Cartoon grand prize in 2009. This is a rare work about a Japanese traditional card game, the Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets (Hyakunin isshu). I have some bitter memories that I had to memorize all the poems as homework during summer vacations, but I read this manga with pleasure. This seems to be a new type of a love comedy for young people.

Thermae Romae/テルマエ・ロマエ


Author: Mari Yamazaki. Won a grand prize of the third Cartoon grand prize in 2010. This is a fantasy comedy that tells about an ancient Roman who travels forward in time to today's Japan and is surprised with the culture of Japanese bath. You can learn the Japanese bath.

Umimachi Diary/海街Diary


Author: Akimi Yoshida. Won the sixth Cartoon grand prize in 2013. This is an ordinary story about people's daily life. There is neither supernatural power nor time travels but I like this kind of work because it is a good, realistic and touching story.

Distant Neighbourhood/遥かな町へ

理由は知りませんが、フランスで絶大な支持を集める谷口ジロー氏の作品。"Quartier Lointain "というタイトルで、フランスで映画化されたという異色の作品です。

Author: Jiroo Taniguchi. This is one of the most important works of Jiroo Taniguchi who seems to be very popular in France. This is a rare manga that was made into a movie in France with the title "Quartier Lointain" with French actors.

Maison Ikkoku/めぞん一刻


Author: Rumiko Takahashi. This is Rumiko Takahashi's famous work concerning youth love comedy. This manga was already published when I was young, but I didn't read it then. I was surprised to find out that it was broadcasted on tv in France 20 years ago. If you want to know the Japanese game of love, this could be a good introudctory work.

Anime movies


A recent craze of Japanese anime in foreign countries is astonishing. Some of my young students said that they began to study Japanese becasue of these Japanese anime. This is a result of the internet. They are especially interested in TV anime series like 'One peace' or 'Naruto'. There are so many anime that it's hard for me to follow them. Moreover, it's impossible! In this section, I try to introduce anime movies, in particular those that I watchted or want to watch in the classroom.

My neighbour totoro/となりのトトロ


Released in 1988. Director: Hayao Miyazaki. I don't need to add an explanation. This is a masterpiece of Studio GHIBLI. It is a movie that can be seen by all ages and I can recommend this without worry.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time/時をかける少女


Released in 2006. Director: Mamoru Hosoda. Originally, it is a Sience Fiction novel written by a master Yasutaka Tsutsui. This movie won the best animated film award of Japan Academy Prize in 2006. I remember that I read the original novel when I was in high school and saw the first movie. When I saw the animated movie for the first time, I was much surprised by the good quality. This is also popular among my students.

Summer Wars/サマーウォーズ


Released in 2009. Director: Mamoru Hosoda. After "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time", I was surprised again by the same director. With this movie the director Hosoda won the best animated film award of Japan Academy Prize in 2009 for the sconde time.

5 Centimeters Per Second/秒速5センチメートル


Released in 2007. Director: Makoto Shinkai. I've never watched this movie in the classroom. I'm not sure whether my students will understand this work.

Ocean Waves/海が聞こえる


Originally released in 1993 as a TV animation drama. Hayao Miyazaki didn't contribute to this work but it was created by young staff members of Studio GHIBLI. You don't see a supernatural power, however, I really like this kind of realistic story.


A trip to Japan

Under construction