Rarest Japanese Books in English

Ultra-Gash Inferno

“Rare” is really a state of mind. You could say that the scribbled page I tore out of a notebook last night was “rare”, seeing as I’m the only one who owned it. You could say that a rock you found by a river that looks like Gumby’s head is “rare” because there are no other rocks shaped like it. Most people wouldn’t call those things rare, however, because there is no real demand for them. They’re one of a kind, sure, but have no particular value.

The ironic thing is that something NOT being in high demand and not selling in the first place is usually what CAUSES it to become rare, in the case of books and other media. Something niche and obscure may suddenly come into fashion, or be sought after by collectors years later. Personally, I hate when this happens with media. I just want to watch or play or read whatever, and not spend hundreds of dollars to do so. I can’t help but think:
“Well, why was nobody interested in it when it was new? Don’t treat it like gold now when you ignored it on purpose then!”
In my opinion, there are no books worth paying triple-digit or higher prices for. None. It would have to be pretty damned special, because anything less than that would be a massive disappointment and probably a bad investment.

That being said, I have a penchant for Japanese books in translation. I love the prose and themes of Japanese literature, but I’m not so fluent in the language, which presents a bigger obstacle than you’d think when looking for new books to read.
Japanese books have had significant trouble breaking into the mainstream in English-speaking countries. Why is this? For one, the most desired books tend to be in somewhat niche genres like psychological horror, and for two, written Japanese is incredibly difficult and tricky to translate into English. Translators will tell you that it’s often more art than science.

Translated Japanese novels and manga have seen a recent upswing in popularity, but in the 90s and early 00s, there were many unfortunate books to which the English rights were lost, floating in the copyright abyss to this day. These are the rarest ones that I know of. They’re not always expensive, but can be stupidly hard to find. Keep in mind that this is only the case with the English editions. Japanese copies are a lot more common, though that’s not very helpful if you’re not able to read them.

Rare translated books are difficult to research, as is why exactly they became rare and valuable in the first place. Could be that they didn’t sell well, are very sought-after, or that everyone who bought it is just determined to keep their copies. To make the list, the book must only be available in print – no eBooks – and must currently be out of print. They’re in loose order from the easiest to find and cheapest to the hardest and priciest. If you know of any that should’ve made the list, feel free to comment below! Continue reading “Rarest Japanese Books in English”

Trying Unusual Candies From Japan

 

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Strange candy is a topic that fascinates me, though I, uh… wish it didn’t. Sugar loads a nice sucker punch to my gut every time I give it a chance, so I try to actively avoid candy. (Candy is bad for you, kids.) Odd flavours of candies, however, notably KitKats in Japan was something I feel a lot of people are curious about, and I’ve always wondered too, so when the opportunity cropped up, I thought I’d tell you what the experience was like! KitKats have such a variety and popularity in Japan because the name sounds like a Japanese word for “winner” or “sure winner”, so are thought to be something of a good luck charm for students.

First thing I noticed is that, compared to Western candy, these were not that sweet at all. Even the ordinary KitKat was far from that saccharine, milky taste they have in the Americas. But the so-called “weird” flavours were delicious.
Some of note were the roasted tea (the one with the cup of tea on the second row) and melon and marscapone (bottom left). The roasted tea has a savory, bitter taste that’s quite rare and unexpected in a piece of candy. It tasted almost grain-like, reminding me strongly of dry noodles with its texture.
The melon and marscapone cheese was, oh, absolutely the best. It was one of the sweeter ones, but again, not in that syrupy way. There was a more natural melon flavour with a cheesy softness afterwards. Just hearing “melon and cheese”, that might not sound like a tasty combination, but believe me, it was! The green tea and wasabi were also interesting, though definitely for more of a bitter pallet. I don’t really see those being popular with children. They seemed like more “mature” flavours to me. The wasabi wasn’t spicy, which is what surprised me the most. Continue reading “Trying Unusual Candies From Japan”