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10 Best Japanese Female Authors 2021

best japanese female authors image

Some of the best authors hail from Japan. Here’s a complete list of the best Japanese female authors and their best sellers. Check it out!

If you want to widen your horizons, read a book. While authors like Murakami have made it to the best selling list of every reader’s list across the world, Japan has so much more to offer with its plethora of female authors. 

A country that is rich with so much history, culture and heritage obviously produces female literary talent that cannot be squeezed into just one list but I’ve done my best to scratch the surface. 

Dive in to discover the Best Japanese Female Authors who will blow your mind!

Best Japanese Female Authors and Bestsellers: Summary

Best Japanese Female AuthorsBest SellersView on Amazon
Banana YoshimotoKitchenView on Amazon
Hardboiled & Hard luckView on Amazon
Mieko KawakamiBreasts & Eggs View on Amazon
Ms Ice Sandwich View on Amazon
Hiromi KawakamiStrange Weather in Tokyo: A NovelView on Amazon
Record Of a Night Too BriefView on Amazon
Yukiko MotoyaThe Lonesome Bodybuilder View on Amazon
Fumiko EnchiMasksView on Amazon
A Tale of False FortunesView on Amazon
Hitomi KaneharaSnakes and EarringsView on Amazon
Autofiction View on Amazon
Natsuo KirinoOut: A ThrillerView on Amazon
Grotesque View on Amazon
Yuko TsushimaTerritory of LightView on Amazon
Of Dogs and Walls View on Amazon
Risa WatayaI Want To Kick You In The BackView on Amazon
InstallView on Amazon

Top Japanese Female Authors

Banana Yoshimoto

The first one on this list of best Japanese female authors is Banana Yoshimoto. 

Yoshimoto is a name that is as well known amongst bookworms as Haruki Murakami, thanks to her books being sold worldwide. Most people would have read her most popular fiction, Kitchen, a story that revolves around life, death and how we should love each other. 

Banana Yoshimoto is as quirky as her first name. She named herself after her favourite fruit, which she loves so much that she even tattooed it on her leg. 

She says she also wanted to sound androgynous, which makes sense considering the fact that the publishing world is mostly ruled by men. 

Yoshimoto comes from a family of artists and scholars and wrote her first story when she was 5! She says she clubs her passion for food and cooking in her books, so that’s a treat for food lovers as well. 

Other than Kitchen, her book Hardboiled and Hard Luck also got a lot of positive reviews!

If you’ve never read Japanese authors, Banana Yoshimoto’s books are a good start as they are easy to read and engaging. 

Recommended Books:

Kitchen

best Japanese female authors

Hardboiled & Hard Luck

best japanese female author

Mieko Kawakami

No, she is not related to Hiromi Kawakami. 

The next one one on this list of best Japanese female authors is Mieko Kawakami. 

Mieko Kawakami is Japan’s true rags to riches story. Born in a poor part of Osaka, Mieko has made it to the country’s best selling authors’ list with her books that capture the reader and get them to think about the world we live in and how we see ourselves. 

Her most acclaimed book that made it to the West, Breasts and Eggs takes a deep look into what it means to be a woman in Japan. 

With validation from Haruki Murakami himself, Breasts and Eggs has broken all barriers with its honesty, raw humour and directness. 

The award winning author’s Ms Ice Sandwich also has managed to become a bestseller in the West. Keeping with the theme of strong women, the book is about a boy who is enchanted with a woman in the supermarket who sells sandwiches. 

Recommended Books:

Breasts & Eggs

Mieko Kawakami japanese author

Ms Ice Sandwich

best japanese author

Related: For your next movie night, watch this beautiful romance anime movie. It’ll definitely be worth it!

Hiromi Kawakami

The next one on this list of best Japanese female authors is the Hiromi Kawakami.

Hiromi Kawakami writes books that you want to never put down, savour each and every word, every single scene, re-read and live those words on paper. 

Her super hit novel, translated into English called “Strange Weather in Tokyo: A Novel” is something you might be familiar with. 

Like all good writers, Kawakami brings the reader’s attention to the changes in the seasons and the moods of the characters with subtle hints while focussing on their developing relationship. 

This high school science teacher turned writer has won prizes for her novels like “Record Of a Night Too Brief” and “Kamisama”, both of which are must reads if you love breezy, sentimental, yet fun and quirky books. 

Her writing focuses on the city of Tokyo, the vibrant streets and the lives of modern young men and women who live there.  

Recommended Books:

Strange Weather in Tokyo: A Novel

best japanese novels

Record Of a Night Too Brief

japanese authors novels

Yukiko Motoya

The next one on this list of best Japanese female authors  is Yukiko Motoya.

Yukiko Motoya is famous in Japan for many reasons. One of those is, of course, that she is an award winning writer, but she is also an artist in the truest form. 

Motoya is well known for her play writing, stage direction, voice acting and radio DJing stints as well. 

As a result, she has been in the public eye for a very long time and is quite a favourite amongst the Japanese. 

Speaking of her writing, Yukiko Motoya has a unique way of picking up stories of mundane people and narrating them with a bit of surrealism and fantasy thrown in. 

Her most read book is the collection of short stories, “The Lonesome Bodybuilder”. Each of the 11 short stories are very different from each other, exploring people’s personalities, traits, their thoughts, relationships and how and why they react a certain way in situations.

Recommended Books:

The Lonesome Bodybuilder

best japanese female author 2021

Fumiko Enchi

The next one on this list of best Japanese female authors is Fumiko Enchi. 

Writing is an expression of the world of the author. Every now and then we come across a book that makes an impact, something that takes us deep into the emotions, thoughts and life of the author. 

Fumiko Enchi was one such writer who took Japan by storm with her stories of emotionally disturbed women. 

Many say that the protagonists in her novels reflected her own life where she lost all her possessions during the WWII and fell very sick. 

Enchi was born sick as well, and spent most of her childhood home schooled and isolated from the outside world, with only Japanese and Western writers to keep her company. 

That was her inspiration to paint pictures with her words and give the world books like “Masks”. Masks is set around a woman who manipulates the two men who are in love with her widowed daughter in law to get what she wants. 

Recommended Books:

Masks

best japanese author 2021

A Tale of False Fortunes

best japanese novel 2021

Hitomi Kanehara

The next one on this list of best Japanese female authors is Hitomi Kanehara.

Hitomi Kanehara is a young, prize winning writer who is known for much more than her bestselling books. Kanehara is known as the “rebel” of Japan, having dropped out of high school and choosing to live on the streets. 

Hitomi’s background is not all that bad though, with a University professor for a father who continued to support her even after she left home. However, she did battle depression and overcame her desire to inflict self harm. 

It can be said that Hitomi inherited her talent for writing from her father who was also a children’s books translator. He did play an important part in nurturing her writing skills. 

Hitomi Kanehara’s debut book published when the author was barely 20 years old, “Snakes and Earrings” won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize and shot her into the limelight. 

It has and still is one of the bestselling novels, something you should definitely not miss out on. 

Recommended Books:

Snakes and Earrings

best selling japanese novels 2021

Autofiction

novels by japanese female authors

Natsuo Kirino

The next one on this list of best Japanese female authors Natsuo Kirino.

Natsuo Kirino is one of Japan’s favourite female authors, especially amongst readers who love the Thriller and Crime Mystery genres. 

What sets her characters apart are the strong female leads who, due to the society’s gender pressures and prejudices, are forced to succumb to certain deeds. 

Kirino’s books border on dark fiction, with underlying anger in the seriousness of the story narrated. The book, “Out” which has been widely read, is about four women who cover up the protagonist’s crime of murder. 

What brings and holds them together is the fact that they live amongst men who are abusive and disrespectful.

Pick a book by Kirino and every other chore will take a set back as the book will engulf you and keep you hooked, from cover to cover. 

Recommended Books:

Out: A Thriller

classic female japanese authors

Grotesque

japanese female writers 20th century

Yuko Tsushima

The next one on this list of best Japanese female authors is Yuko tsushima. 

Every once in a while, the world is given a writer who is a genius, and her books become classics. Yuko Tsushima is one of those who lives on through her books that have been translated into English. 

Tsushima made a name for herself at a time when all the popular writers, publishers and editors were men, soon after WWII. 

Territory of Light, one of Tsushima’s widely read novels, delves into the life of a woman who has been abandoned by her husband. The new single mom tackles depression, pulls herself out of it, looks forward and rebuilds her life in Tokyo.  

Recommended Books:

Territory of Light

fumiko enchi

Of Dogs and Walls

famous japanese female writers

Risa Wataya

The next one on this list of best Japanese female authors Risa Wataya.

Risa Wataya is a young female Japanese author who shot into popularity when she won the Akutagawa Prize for her novel, translated as “I Want To Kick You In The Back”. 

She also won the Bungei Prize for her debut novel “Install” when she was just 17 years old. One of the youngest winners of these prizes, Risa Wataya has made history. 

When she wasn’t writing, Risa derived her inspiration from her part time jobs working at a clothing store and at a hotel, which is clear from her protagonist in the novel “Kawaisou da ne”, which also won a prize. 

Recommended Books:

I Want To Kick You In The Back

contemporary female japanese authors

Install

famous japanese authors

Who is the Best Japanese Female Author?

One of the Best Japanese Female Authors is Natsuo Kirino. Her ability to keep the reader at the edge of their seat and turn pages until they get to the end of the book with bated breath, is one of a kind. The female characters in Kirino’s books are very strong minded, and she explores gender pressures that women in Japan often face. 

Which is the Best Japanese Book by a Female Author?

Natsuo Kirino’s “Out: A Thriller” has been on the bestselling list in Japan as well as the Western world. Out has a strong female protagonist who seeks the help of her friends to dispose of the body of her murdered husband. 

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