Rashomon and Other Stories, Paperback Book

Rashomon and Other Stories Paperback

Illustrated by M. Kuwata

3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Writing at the beginning of the twentieth century, Ryunosuke Akutagawa created disturbing stories out of Japan's cultural upheaval.

Whether his fictions are set centuries past or close to the present, Akutagawa was a modernist, writing in polished, superbly nuanced prose subtly exposing human needs and flaws. "In a Grove," which was the basis for Kurosawa's classic film Rashomon, tells the chilling story of the killing of a samurai through the testimony of witnesses, including the spirit of the murdered man.

The fable-like "Yam Gruel" is an account of desire and humiliation, but one in which the reader's sympathy is thoroughly unsettled. And in "The Martyr," a beloved orphan raised by Jesuit priests is exiled when he refuses to admit that he made a local girl pregnant.

He regains their love and respect only at the price of his life.

All six tales in the collection show Akutagawa as a master storyteller and an exciting voice of modern Japanese literature.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 96 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton & Co
  • Publication Date:
  • ISBN: 9780871401731

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This short collection of stories would make a fabulous addition to any library, lending an east Asian perspective on the moral tale alongside the renowned names of Aesop and Grimm. Each story is like an elongated haiku, an impressionistic glimpse into just enough plot and characterisation to grasp the concept at hand. Always there is some sort of twist that leaves the reader thinking, so that the author's purpose is not immediately evident. The economy of words and images makes for quick but poignant reads that will resonate long after you have turned the page.

Review by

Classic though this may be, I found that the 6 stories in my volume did nothing for me. The translation, by Takashi Kojima, probably didn't help as I found the style of the prose to be uninspiring, which meant that all I was left with were the stories themselves — and those I found to be tiresome, mean-spirited, and somewhat on the trite side. (For some inexplicable reason I was reminded of O. Henry while reading. I have no idea why.)That said, it's just odd to read a book that includes footnotes explaining what sushi is.