Welcome to the fifth chapter of our lockdown library—a series of great recommendations from our book exchange group to keep you entertained.

Times are strange, there’s no denying it, but one thing that never changes is the charm of a good book. Check out our first few chapters for some great ideas:

Introducing: Branden

Lockdown Library - Branden Printup Submission
Photo by Branden Printup

What’s your name?

Branden Printup

Where are you from?

Georgia, USA

Tell us about yourself (and your reading habits).

What up fam! My name is Branden and I’ve been living in Tokyo for 3 years now. I’m working as teacher and writer/editor/author. I love dystopian novels, but I tend to gravitate towards any book that showcases the depth and unique capabilities of literature. My favorite spot to read is at local coffee shops around Tokyo. Good coffee and the presence of people in a chill atmosphere helps me be more productive. I also go hiking around Mitaka and take books to read in the crisp mountain air.

You can read Branden’s weekly writings and keep up with his lockdown life on instagram.

What are you reading right now?

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Without further ado: the books

books on wood background
Photo by istock.com/SB

1. Lost Japan by Alex Kerr

When I first moved to Japan I knew a bit about its history and culture, but I didn’t know anything about life as an expatriate living in Japan. I longed to know more about how expatriates and Japanese citizens connected with older customs and ongoing traditions from the past. Especially since I live in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s city life.

In Lost Japan, Kerr’s collection of personal essays detailing his thoughts on Japanese culture from his years of living here, you get an emotionally captivating account of Japanese art and culture through the intimate connections he shares with citizens from Kyoto to the sprawling greens of the Iya Valley.

For anyone interested in learning about Japan through an expat’s personal accounts with a wide variety of stories and encounters, this one is a must read.

Order it here

2. Territory of Light by Tuko Tsushima

I love reading the works of female writers because their perspective and wisdom does wonders for illuminating truths about humanity and the world altogether. Territory of Light is no exception.

Yuko Tsushima has written a beautiful, yet realistic in all aspects, account of the relationship between a young Japanese single mother raising her two-year-old daughter alone. Tsushima offers a chance to experience the highs, lows, and introspective thoughts of a young mother caring for her daughter while dealing with the stigma of single motherhood in her society.

As the son of a black American single mother, Tsushima’s novel resonated with me because it opened my mind and heart to the similarities of love and determination mothers share, even across oceans. For all readers, Tsushima’s novel offers a literary way to learn more about the lives of those we care about around us.

Looking for a unique perspective on city life in Japan, check this book out. It’s a novella-length work of class.

Order it here

3. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Throughout history authors have written dystopian stories of epic proportions, literally and metaphorically, that have left a profound impact on the genre. Weighing in at over 920 pages is Haruki Murakami’s cult classic, 1Q84.

The story observes the dealings of fictitious cults and multiple wildly intertwined characters hurtling through Murakami’s roller coaster world of magical realism.

For fan’s of dystopian novels that cause you to sit in silence, eyes closed, searching the recesses of your life-force to lead a full charge towards understanding the collective and the individual, Murakami has delivered. This novel just about has it all. Seriously.

For lovers of Japan and things Japan-related, this book is world renowned as one of Murakami’s best. Literature is a study of the human condition. With that in mind, the questions Murakami raises about links between humanity as a whole are incredible, and this novel stands as a testament to how diverse art can be from country to country. It’s well worth the journey to the author bio and back cover.

Order it here


If you’re looking for more ideas, we have our own top picks for your consideration as well as a great guide on where to buy cheap books in Tokyo. While it’s not recommended that you go out right now, they’re good for future reference. Also, it’s worth checking if your local library has a delivery service like Saitama. If all else fails, your trusty Kindle is always an easy option!

Why we’ve chosen the book depository: They offer free worldwide delivery, ship from the UK (so still ok to get to Japan for the time being) and use far less packaging than the likes of Amazon! Of course a Kindle offers the most package-free (and paper-free) option, but if you’re after the real thing, the Book Depository is a great choice.

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