We love to talk about this novel in our office – it’s been published by one of our favourite publishers Tilted Axis (in a perfect translation by Morgan Giles) and it portrays Japan in a way that is so hard to find elsewhere.
The main protagonist is a man, who came to Tokyo to seek work. But “Tokyo Ueno Station” is so much more than just a story of making ends meet in the capital city. Yū Miri opens our eyes to a world where some of us just do not own their palce. She shows Japan as a country where living a decent life is just getting so much more difficult, although it might be hard to imagine.
We are equally fascinated by Yū Miri herself – born in Yokohama, Japan, she is a “zainichi konkujin”. Her parents belong to a Korean minority living in Japan. People with korean citizenship and the status of zainichi are often facing discrimination and acts of violence.
After nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Yū Miri decided to move to MInami-Soma, a town that suffered deeply when the tsunami wave came and due to its proximity to the power plant has been almost completely deserted. It’s the same town (and hometown to) Hideo Furukawa, described with such a passion in his essay „Horses, Horses, In the End the Light Remains Pure”. Yū Miri fights for the town to be rebuilt – she bought a house there, opened a bookstore called Full House, she runs a local theatre house. People througout Japan can buy their books from Full House. All you need to do is access the website and answer questions about yourself (not entirely connected to reading, but rather concerning other habits and mood) and declare a budget. Yū Miri chooses a perfect selection for you and ships out the books from Fukushima.
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