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The 77 Greatest Works of Japanese Literature

This list of Japan's greatest literature is based on the same years of research and surveys carried out for our other lists (see "Creating the Greatest Literature of All Time list" for details of the process) with additional research on Japanese literature.

This list focuses on major creative works—such as novels, plays, epic poetry and story collections—although some shorter or nonfiction writing of literary significance may also be included.

As always, this list is expected to grow and evolve as research into older works continues and new works appear.

Latest update: September 15, 2023

c.759
Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves
Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, Takahashi no Mushimaro, Lady Kasa and others
Japan, poetry collection
c.900
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter
Anonymous
Japan, novel
c.1000
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
Sei Shonagon
Japan, diary
c.1020
missing graphic
The Tale of Genji
Japan, novel
c.1060
The Sarashina Diary
LadySarashiina
Japan, Prose and poetry narrative
c.1220
The Tale of the Heike
Anonymous
Japan, novel
1330–1332
Essays in Idleness
YoshidaKenkō
Japan, essay collection
c.1400
Atsumori
Zeami Motokiyo
Japan, play
c.1500
The Feather Mantle
Anonymous (att. to Zeami Motokiyo)
Japan, play
1682
The Life of an Amorous Man
Ihara Saikaku
Japan, novel
1702
The Narrow Road to the Interior
Matsuo Bashō
Japan, prose and poetry collection
1703
The Love Suicides at Sonezaki
Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Japan, play
1721
The Love Suicides at Amijima
Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Japan, play
1748
The Treasury of Loyal Retainers
Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi Shōraku, Namiki Senryū
Japan, play
1776
Tales of Moonlight and Rain
UedaAkinari
Japan, story collection
1814–1842
Tale of the Eight Dogs
Takizawa Bakin
Japan, novel
1887
Drifting Cloud
Futabatei Shimei
Japan, novel
1895–1896
Growing Up
IchiyōHiguchi
Japan, novella
1906
The Broken Commandment
Tōson Shimazaki
Japan, novel
1907
Futon
Katai Tayama
Japan, novel
1911–1913
The Wild Geese
Mori Ōgai
Japan, novel
1913
A Woman Writer
Toshiko Tamura
Japan, novel
1914
Kokoro
Sōseki Natsume
Japan, novel
1917
Reconciliation
Naoya Shiga
Japan, novella
1921–1937
A Dark Night's Passing
Naoya Shiga
Japan, novel
1922
Rashōmon and Other Stories
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Japan, story collection
1924
The Restaurant of Many Orders
Kenji Miyazawa
Japan, story collection
1926
The Dancing Girl of Izu and Other Stories
Yasunari Kawabata
Japan, story collection
1929
Some Prefer Nettles
Jun'ichiro Tanizaki
Japan, novel
1930
Diary of a Vagabond
Fumiko Hayashi
Japan, novel
1936–1938
The Wind Has Risen
Tatsuo Hori
Japan, novel
1937
A Strange Tale From East of the River
Kafū Nagai
Japan, novella
1944
The Makioka Sisters
Jun'ichirō Tanizaki
Japan, novel
1947
The Setting Sun
Osamu Dazai
Japan, novel
1948
Snow Country
Yasunari Kawabata
Japan, novel
 
No Longer Human
Osamu Dazai
Japan, novel
1949
Confessions of a Mask
Yukio Mishima
Japan, novel
 
The Twilight Crane
Junji Kinoshita
Japan, play
 
The Hunting Gun
Yasushi Inoue
Japan, novella
1951
Forbidden Colors
Yukio Mishima
Japan, novel
1952
Thousand Cranes
Yasunari Kawabata
Japan, novel
1954
The Sound of Waves
Yukio Mishima
Japan, novel
 
The Sound of the Mountain
Yasunari Kawabata
Japan, novel
1956
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion
Yukio Mishima
Japan, novel
1958
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids
Kenzaburō Ōe
Japan, novel
1962
The Woman in the Dunes
Kōbō Abe
Japan, novel
1964
A Personal Matter
Kenzaburō Ōe
Japan, novel
 
Beauty and Sadness
Yasunari Kawabata
Japan, novel
1965
Black Rain
Masuji Ibuse
Japan, novel
1965–1971
The Sea of Fertility
Yukio Mishima
Japan, novel series
1966
Silence
Shūsaku Endō
Japan, novel
1972
The Twilight Years
Sawako Ariyoshi
Japan, novel
1973
The Box Man
Kōbō Abe
Japan, novel
1976
Almost Transparent Blue
Murakami Ryu
Japan, novel
1977
Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness
Kenzaburō Ōe
Japan, novel
1979
Territory of Light
Yūko Tsushima
Japan, novel
1981
The Totto-chan, the Little Girl at the Window
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi
Japan, novel
1982
A, Wild Sheep Chase
Haruki Murakami
Japan, novel
1985
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Haruki Murakami
Japan, novel
1987
Norwegian Wood
Haruki Murakami
Japan, novel
1988
Kitchen
Banana Yoshimoto
Japan, novel
1990
The Diving Pool
Yoko Ogawa
Japan, novella
1991
Ring
Koji Suzuki
Japan, novel
1992
South of the Border, West of the Sun
Haruki Murakami
Japan, novel
1993
Deep River
Shūsaku Endō
Japan, novel
1994–1995
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Haruki Murakami
Japan, novel
1998
Crossfire
Miyuki Miyabi
Japan, novel
1999
Somersault
Kenzaburō Ōe
Japan, novel
2000
After the Quake
Haruki Murakami
Japan, story collection
2002
Kafka on the Shore
Haruki Murakami
Japan, novel
2002–2008
Sword Art Online
Reki Kawahara
Japan, novel series
2003
The Housekeeper and the Professor
Yoko Ogawa
Japan, novel
2005
The Elephant Vanishes
Haruki Murakami
Japan, story collection
2006
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
Haruki Murakami
Japan, story collection
2009–2010
IQ84
Haruki Murakami
Japan, novel
2014
Men Without Women
Haruki Murakami
Japan, story collection
2016
Convenience Store Woman
Sayaka Murata
Japan, novella

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