Spring is in the air, unless you’re living in California. In that case, Summer is here in full kick-you-in-the-allergies-and-burn-your-flesh-off glory. With Spring arrives the fragrance of fresh flowers, a cool breeze to abate the morning sweat, and tons of vibrantly bright colours just flourishing everywhere you look.
Normally, I’m someone who doesn’t really care for all the mumbo-jumbo of this season. Too busy sneezing from one end of the house to the next, I stay inside and refuse to embrace nature as much as I can, unless cherry blossoms are involved. However, with the blight of a pandemic looming in the air, this year I have discovered a newfound appreciation for all that Spring has to offer. I’ll admit, it feels pretty fucking strange.
In an effort to relish in my freshly sprouted gratitude for the unholy season of Spring, I wanted to share with y’all some of my favourite Japanese books featuring Spring-like covers. A few of them even have a tale or two to go with it!
Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki: This book has the word “Spring” on the cover, so of course it’s going to remind me of the season. I also like the flowers on the cover quite a bite. The story is about a dude alienated from his family who then meets an eccentric woman that tells him about the mystery of the sky-blue house next to their building.
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa: This cover has a lovely shade of cerulean blue that is adorned with a cherry tree that has petals floating away in the wind. It’s a beautifully classic Japanese spring aesthetic. The story itself also takes place during Spring and Summer, with plenty of references to sports like baseball that further accentuate the seasonal vibe.
The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami: There is so much pink here that to think of anything other than Spring feels like a severe travesty. Plus, the little fish on the cover remind me of Japanese Hanamatsuri (Buddhist holiday to commemorate the Buddha’s birthday) celebrations. The story is one about fleeting romance with an enigmatic man named Nishino, which can also in a way be an element of Spring in relation to budding romances and energetically promiscuous flings.
The Translation of Love by Lynn Kutsukake: More cherry blossoms on a sepia filtered cover hinting at the historical tale hidden within these soft pages. Historical fiction is something I love reading during this season, and this one about a girl searching for her sister in an Occupied Tokyo is extraordinary. I find it fitting for Spring because it’s about identity, redemption, and healing, which are elements that Spring can be an allegory for.
Malice by Keigo Higashino: Probably one of the most beautiful Japanese books that I own, this murder mystery by an author who is an absolutely brilliant contributor to the genre screams Spring with the red bridge and overhanging cherry trees. The feminine waistcoat donned by the lady on the cover is a small detail that brings it all together, balancing out the excess of white space. The book also takes place during Golden Week, which is a span of time from the end of April to the beginning of May that consists of many Japanese holidays, usually in celebration of Spring and the Buddha.