A few months ago, I suggested a number of children’s books that are perfect for engaging young minds ahead of a trip to Japan. But what about those pickier tweens and teens? Here’s a round-up of some engaging adventures about Japan for young adults … some adults might find these choices pretty entertaining, too!
- The Samurai Mysteries by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler – Even as an adult, I love this Sherlock-Holmes-type mystery series which takes place in Tokugawa-era (17th century) Japan. The stories are interspersed with valuable Japanese cultural tidbits and even a smattering of Japanese words. The books are all part of a continuing series but it won’t hurt to read them out of order if you must.
- Blue Fingers: A Ninja’s Tale by Cheryl Aylward Whitesel – Blue Fingers is an action-filled story of ninja mystery and intrigue. The plot tends to be a bit all over the place at times, but provides interesting glimpse of ninja history. This is a great read ahead of a trip to the Ninja Museum at Iga in Mie Prefecture.
- Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus – This easy-to-read novel is based on the true story of Manjiro, or John Mung, the first Japanese person to set foot in the continental United States. Remarkably, Manjiro not only leads a life of adventure as the adopted son of a New Bedford whaler, he returns to Japan in an age when the country was completely closed to those who had left it … and lives to tell the tale.
- Samurai Kids by Sandy Fussell – These books may be a bit lighter on actual samurai history and heavier on the humor, but Fussell’s series about a school of handicapped kids who train to be samurai is uplifting. It’s hard to place the books in an accurate time period (none is ever mentioned), but by the end of the story, it’s not a concern.
- Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn – This is probably the most “adult” of the novels on this list but teens will be hooked by the spunky protaganist, the overarching mystery and the great Japanese cultural tidbits packed in amongst the action. Fans of manga will find much in common with the main character and it’s nice to see a girl interested in comics, too.