Strange Weather in Tokyo

Hiromi Kawakami

Published: 1 May 2014
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 192 pages
ISBN: 9781846275104

Translated by Allison Markin Powell


Tsukiko is in her late 30s and living alone when one night she happens to meet one of her former high school teachers, 'Sensei', in a bar. He is at least thirty years her senior, retired and, she presumes, a widower. After this initial encounter, the pair continue to meet occasionally to share food and drink sake, and as the seasons pass - from spring cherry blossom to autumnal mushrooms - Tsukiko and Sensei come to develop a hesitant intimacy which tilts awkwardly and poignantly into love.

Perfectly constructed, funny, and moving, Strange Weather in Tokyo is a tale of modern Japan and old-fashioned romance.

About the author

Image of Hiromi Kawakami

Born in 1958 in Tokyo, HIROMI KAWAKAMI is one of Japan's most popular contemporary novelists. She is the recipient of the Pascal Short Story Prize for New Writers and the Akutagawa Prize. Her novel Drowning won both the Ito Sei Literature Award and Joryu Bungaku Sho (Women Writers' Prize) in 2000. Her novel Manazuru won the 2011 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize. Strange Weather in Tokyo (Sensei no kaban) won the Tanizaki prize in 2001 and was shortlisted for both the 2013 Man Asian Literary Prize and the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. More about the author


‘A beautifully-written and moving novel, expertly and sensitively translated by Allison Markin Powell’



‘A book of breathtaking delicacy’

‘A charming, understated story, played out against Japan's seasonal extremes. Acutely observed, it's a delicious read’

‘A dream-like spell of a novel, full of humour, sadness, warmth and tremendous subtlety. I read this in one sitting and I think it will haunt me for a long time’ Amy Sackville

‘A funny, ethereal and above all heartfelt love story’

‘A quiet and understated novel... Highly recommended for fans of quirky and contemporary translated fiction or Japanese culture’

‘A subtle and haunting portrait... Kawakami's prose is warm and often humorous. Allison Markin Powell's masterful translation conveys a deceptively effortless, understated delicacy and dream-like tone. Often enchanting but ultimately heart-breaking, this is an unforgettable evocation of love and loneliness’ Alev Adil, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Judge

‘An elegiac sense of speeding time, and yawning distance, drizzles the story - sensitively translated by Allison Markin Powell - with a sweet sadness’ Boyd Tonkin

‘An extraordinary novella... It is gentle, wise and written in such a hypnotic style it casts a spell upon the reader. Deeply haunting and strangely moving’ Kim Forrester

‘As well as being a sweet love story and an exploration of loneliness, [it] is packed with nostalgic Japanese atmosphere’

‘Beautifully written’

‘Beautifully written... It has a dreamlike quality and left me with a great love for the characters Judith Ayles

‘Charming and understated... acutely observed and surprisingly involving. A delicious read’

‘Enchanting, moving and funny in equal measure, this compelling love story is expertly crafted against a backdrop of modern Japanese culture... I [was] captivated... Stylish and unsentimental, a perfect love story’

‘Expertly translated by Allison Markin Powell, this is a beautifully understated love story, a novel of sadness, longing and gentle humour’

‘I'm hooked... It's interesting enough to read about an aging woman drawn to an older man; when this attraction comes wrapped up in Japanese nostalgia for old fashioned inns, mushroom hunting, refined manners, and Basho, how can a person resist? I can only imagine what wizardry must have gone into Allison Markin Powell's translation’ Lorin Stein

‘In equal measures profound and exhilarating’

‘In quiet, nature-infused prose that stresses both characters' solitude, Kawakami subtly captures the cyclic patterns of loneliness while weighing the definition of love’

‘Kawakami crafts an eerie inter-generational romance’ Boyd Tonkin

‘Kawakami paints perfectly the lightness and delicacy of modern Tokyo, delivering a love story that breaks hearts’

‘Kawakami transforms an affecting cross-generational romance into an exquisite poem of time and mutability.... Delicate and haunting’ Boyd Tonkin

‘One of the most beautiful love stories I have read in all my life... Read it and enjoy’

‘This short, quirky love story has a very distinctive, very Japanese sensibility... Allison Markin Powell's translation is clear and graceful’ Brandon Robshaw

‘True love is celebrated with humour, grace and pathos as the wary narrator recalls her unusual approach to dealing with an overwhelming passion’ Eileen Battersby

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