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From the author of Strange Weather in Tokyo comes this funny, heartwarming story about love, life, and human relationships that features a delightfully offbeat cast of characters. Objects for sale at the Nakano Thrift Shop appear as commonplace as the staff and customers that handle them. But like those same customers and staff, they hold many secrets. If examined carefully From the author of Strange Weather in Tokyo comes this funny, heartwarming story about love, life, and human relationships that features a delightfully offbeat cast of characters. Objects for sale at the Nakano Thrift Shop appear as commonplace as the staff and customers that handle them. But like those same customers and staff, they hold many secrets. If examined carefully, they show the signs of innumerable extravagancies, of immeasurable pleasure and pain, and of the deep mysteries of the human heart. Hitomi, the inexperienced young woman who works the register at Mr. Nakano's thrift shop, has fallen for her coworker, the oddly reserved Takeo. Unsure of how to attract his attention, she seeks advice from her employer's sister, Masayo, whose sentimental entanglements make her a somewhat unconventional guide. But thanks in part to Masayo, Hitomi will come to realize that love, desire, and intimacy require acceptance not only of idiosyncrasies but also of the delicate waltz between open and hidden secrets. Animating each delicately rendered chapter in Kawakami's playful novel is Mr. Nakano himself, an original, entertaining, and enigmatic creation whose compulsive mannerisms, secretive love life, and impulsive behavior defy all expectations.


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From the author of Strange Weather in Tokyo comes this funny, heartwarming story about love, life, and human relationships that features a delightfully offbeat cast of characters. Objects for sale at the Nakano Thrift Shop appear as commonplace as the staff and customers that handle them. But like those same customers and staff, they hold many secrets. If examined carefully From the author of Strange Weather in Tokyo comes this funny, heartwarming story about love, life, and human relationships that features a delightfully offbeat cast of characters. Objects for sale at the Nakano Thrift Shop appear as commonplace as the staff and customers that handle them. But like those same customers and staff, they hold many secrets. If examined carefully, they show the signs of innumerable extravagancies, of immeasurable pleasure and pain, and of the deep mysteries of the human heart. Hitomi, the inexperienced young woman who works the register at Mr. Nakano's thrift shop, has fallen for her coworker, the oddly reserved Takeo. Unsure of how to attract his attention, she seeks advice from her employer's sister, Masayo, whose sentimental entanglements make her a somewhat unconventional guide. But thanks in part to Masayo, Hitomi will come to realize that love, desire, and intimacy require acceptance not only of idiosyncrasies but also of the delicate waltz between open and hidden secrets. Animating each delicately rendered chapter in Kawakami's playful novel is Mr. Nakano himself, an original, entertaining, and enigmatic creation whose compulsive mannerisms, secretive love life, and impulsive behavior defy all expectations.

30 review for The Nakano Thrift Shop

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    I think I expected something more whimsical, maybe even a hint of magical realism in this, from the way it's described. But it's a pretty plain story told by a pretty plain narrator; in fact she has virtually no personality which is probably why I could never really get into it. It's a quiet story about a woman who works in a second-hand shop, under the employment of a sort of eccentric playboy, Mr. Nakano. She's in love with her co-worker, friends with her boss's sister, and generally a pretty I think I expected something more whimsical, maybe even a hint of magical realism in this, from the way it's described. But it's a pretty plain story told by a pretty plain narrator; in fact she has virtually no personality which is probably why I could never really get into it. It's a quiet story about a woman who works in a second-hand shop, under the employment of a sort of eccentric playboy, Mr. Nakano. She's in love with her co-worker, friends with her boss's sister, and generally a pretty uninteresting person. I didn't hate this but wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    T.D. Whittle

    I adore this writer. She is appealing in a very individualistic, particular, introverted Japanese way that is reminiscent of Murakami's works yet entirely and uniquely her own. I mention Murakami only because the authors share enough similarity in their character types and their descriptions of the small, mundane rituals of daily life that it deserves an NB: if you love Murakami's quirky characters and his descriptions of cooking "simple meals" and having "nice long talks", you will find much to I adore this writer. She is appealing in a very individualistic, particular, introverted Japanese way that is reminiscent of Murakami's works yet entirely and uniquely her own. I mention Murakami only because the authors share enough similarity in their character types and their descriptions of the small, mundane rituals of daily life that it deserves an NB: if you love Murakami's quirky characters and his descriptions of cooking "simple meals" and having "nice long talks", you will find much to love about Kawakami. Otherwise, her writing will probably make you want to toss your book into a pot of boiling spaghetti, as you cook your nice, simple meal. This is only the second book I've read of Kawakami's, the first being Strange Weather in Tokyo, and I am looking forward to reading all of those which have been translated into English. (I have just begun Manazuru too.) This one is a simple coming-of-age story about a young Japanese woman who works at at thrift shop, and the three people who share her life during this time: Takeo, her young co-worker for whom she develops a passion; Mr. Nakano, the philosophical and philandering shop owner; and Masayo, Mr. Nakano's sister who is a charming and rather endearing mediocre artist. The characters are all so interesting in a quiet, quirky, never-fully-revealed way. The two younger ones are in a state of almost constant bewilderment about themselves, each other, and everyone else around them. Plot spoiler: uh ... oh wait ... not needed. There is no plot, y'all. Just read it anyway. Who needs plots? I hate em myself. ;)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    On a suburban street in Tokyo lies a quaint little shop called "The Nakano Thrift Shop", that is home for all the nick nacks you could ever want. But while what can be found inside is wondrous, it is the lives of those that work there that is the most fascinating. The store's owner, Mr Nakano for one is on his 3rd marriage, has 3 children, and spends his time working and spending time with his lovers or as he calls them "the Bank". His sister Masayo is also a hopeless romantic who think she has On a suburban street in Tokyo lies a quaint little shop called "The Nakano Thrift Shop", that is home for all the nick nacks you could ever want. But while what can be found inside is wondrous, it is the lives of those that work there that is the most fascinating. The store's owner, Mr Nakano for one is on his 3rd marriage, has 3 children, and spends his time working and spending time with his lovers or as he calls them "the Bank". His sister Masayo is also a hopeless romantic who think she has found love in her new beau, Maruyama. Recently hired Hitomi on the other hands spends awkward moments advancing and retreating in love with fellow employee Takeo. The group of them share a bond built on their loves and a subtle loyalty the store. The narrator Hitomi is naive and almost transcendental as she interprets the relationships around her. It is these expositions by Hitomi that is the meat of the story along with the dreamy look at contemporary Japanese life with the smells of the food, to the customs interlocking brilliantly. This is a story that will gently embrace you and guide you along an enchanting journey of emotion that is both therapeutic and divine. With gentle humor and a lot of heart, The Nakano Thrift Shop is well worth a read for anyone, not put off by a slow read and want's to be swept away.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Sweet story with a great setting, but got kind of repetitive.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alison Smith

    A contemporary Japanese novel written by an award winning female writer. As ever, I finished the novel, feeling somewhat baffled - such is the nature of Japanese fiction : oblique, dreamlike, enigmatic, subtle. I enjoyed the book, but ... If you want to dip your toes into the strange waters of Japanese fiction, give this one a try. The characters are very engaging - this much I can say. And there are passages where a trivial, daily detail is described beautifully - a sort of verbal still-life, perh A contemporary Japanese novel written by an award winning female writer. As ever, I finished the novel, feeling somewhat baffled - such is the nature of Japanese fiction : oblique, dreamlike, enigmatic, subtle. I enjoyed the book, but ... If you want to dip your toes into the strange waters of Japanese fiction, give this one a try. The characters are very engaging - this much I can say. And there are passages where a trivial, daily detail is described beautifully - a sort of verbal still-life, perhaps. I've said enough. Read it for yourself.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sara J. (kefuwa)

    Enjoyed this a bit more than Strange Weather in Tokyo. Another interesting slice-of-life type book. I swear reading translated works allows you insight into stuff you never thought you needed insight in. The way some words defy direct translations into other languages. How you need a string of sentences to convey what that one word actually means. As I read it over the work week though I may have missed a lot of things/quotable quotes as I tend to skim on the surface and my inner monologue somet Enjoyed this a bit more than Strange Weather in Tokyo. Another interesting slice-of-life type book. I swear reading translated works allows you insight into stuff you never thought you needed insight in. The way some words defy direct translations into other languages. How you need a string of sentences to convey what that one word actually means. As I read it over the work week though I may have missed a lot of things/quotable quotes as I tend to skim on the surface and my inner monologue sometimes gets away before my brain manages to catch up to what is going on. Anyway. I think Japanese books have a very subtle touch to them, vague and somewhat (do I dare say it?) wishy-washy in parts. I think I have mentioned it before that I am a big fan of slice of life anime... how mundane, everyday things and tasks somehow take on a light, airy almost dreamlike "weight" to them. If you don't have the heart to appreciate it you will probably find it really pointless, boring & droll. But overall I like it and will probably continue to seek out more of the same.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sean Farrell

    I loved Strange Weather in Tokyo, but found this book by the same author quite appalling. Dull, aimless, the characters irritating, it was a real chore to get to the end. Haven't been this disappointed for quite a while... I loved Strange Weather in Tokyo, but found this book by the same author quite appalling. Dull, aimless, the characters irritating, it was a real chore to get to the end. Haven't been this disappointed for quite a while...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer

    Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... The Nakano Thrift Shop is home to many secrets... found in their customers, staff and many objects. Hitomi, the inexperienced young woman who works the register at Mr. Nakano's thrift shop, has fallen for her coworker, the oddly reserved Takeo. Unsure of how to attract his attention, she seeks advice from her employer's sister, Masayo. The short review... This was an odd and unexpected read for me... I kind of expected the sweetness of Sweet Bean Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... The Nakano Thrift Shop is home to many secrets... found in their customers, staff and many objects. Hitomi, the inexperienced young woman who works the register at Mr. Nakano's thrift shop, has fallen for her coworker, the oddly reserved Takeo. Unsure of how to attract his attention, she seeks advice from her employer's sister, Masayo. The short review... This was an odd and unexpected read for me... I kind of expected the sweetness of Sweet Bean Paste and the wonderful humor of Convenience Store Woman... both written by Japanese authors and translated into English like The Nakano Thrift Shop. What I found was a socially awkward slice of life romance between two 20 year olds filled with the life of the customers and owners. Slice of life is quite popular in Japan and this was that and so much more. It really gives you a sense of the everyday in Japan for the common person. Hitomi and Takeo are both awkward people who act like characters from the latest YA high school romance except they are a LOT older, NOT in college and dealing with adulting. The pacing is quite slow and you aren't sure what the point is... though I will tell you up front it's totally a romance! I found it charming, puzzling, dreamy, awkward, challenging and ultimately fascinating. it ended in a satisfying way even though i was doubtful at times I would get there! Romance readers who are looking for something a little different or readers who enjoy culture and especially Japanese slice of life will find lots to explore here. Cover & Title grade -> C+ I'm not a total fan of this cover or really any of the covers... I think a vector drawing of the front of the thrift store would have worked better. A photograph of a neighborhood would have also sufficed. This red monstrosity did attract my eye doing its job and for that I am grateful, but its too historical Asia when that has nothing to do with the story. What did The Nakano Thrift Shop say about Japan? -Love is a VERY confusing state of affairs! This romance is like no romance you've ever read... okay, okay... think socially awkward and times that by 10. Yeah if you've ever read a YA romance with social awkwardness then you can relate to this narrative. It's awkward in quite a realistic way and I was fascinated in how the story progressed. It isn't your typical romance and I think that makes it quite a worthwhile read even if it doesn't end up a 5 star. -The rat race gives you direction and drive! So what about everyone else? Nakano the owner of the shop left the corporate rat race to open this thrift shop. At the end another big change comes around for him and by extension Hitomi and Takeo. These are regular people yes, but in Japan the goal is to be a part of the big machine. They have been out of that circle and its effected the way they interact with their life. It's all quite fascinating to think about! -Our elders are our examples! But are they showing us the right way?! Nakano and his sister, Masayo, are the older generation to Hitomi and Takeo and they spend a lot of time with the siblings. They become friends and witnesses to each of their romances and how they advance. They also see how each deals with their work ambitions. Hitomi and Takeo are soaking in these examples through the entire book and we see their transformation at the end... As a Writer... As a writer myself I enjoy being exposed to other cultures... especially through translations like The Nakano Thrift Shop. #ownvoices in America are all find and good (I enjoy them quite a lot) but distilled through the melting pot of American culture. When we get culture straight from the source it can provide a view that is quite pure and while perhaps not as relatable can be even more intriguing and inspiring. I really loved how this didn't seem like a romance (I forgot it was because I didn't read the premise again before starting) at first and in the middle I though wow... where is this going?! How will this end? And at the end I was like... I get it! It really fits with what I know about japan and felt truly authentic to me. Sure the pace is slow for American readers with out short attention spans but I felt like it suited the story perfectly. The Nakano Thrift Shop is perfectly imperfect! It's a slice of life romance that gives you a true taste of Japanese culture and way of life when one is NOT caught up in the corporate rat race. I was so pleased with Hitomi and Takeo and am so glad that I read and experienced their story with Nakano and Masayo! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style ⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building ______________________ You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter... Please like this review if you enjoyed it! *bow* *bow* It helps me out a ton!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. For Those Who Love This light read was most enjoyable, but if you are looking for a plot, there is done. It isn’t even like Seinfeld, but the idea is there. The woman telling the story has no name, that is, to say, she is not given a name, but she is the main character. Then near the end of the book her mother calls her “Hitomi.” I will use it now because I need a name, and I dislike the word, “protagonist.” It just sounds dry. I will never speak of it again. Hitomi works behind the counter at the For Those Who Love This light read was most enjoyable, but if you are looking for a plot, there is done. It isn’t even like Seinfeld, but the idea is there. The woman telling the story has no name, that is, to say, she is not given a name, but she is the main character. Then near the end of the book her mother calls her “Hitomi.” I will use it now because I need a name, and I dislike the word, “protagonist.” It just sounds dry. I will never speak of it again. Hitomi works behind the counter at the thrift store. Next is the young man, Takeo, who along with its boss, Mr. Nakano, leave the shop to find items to buy and sell. More characters show up later. Maybe even I will come into the store and buy something. Nothing happens in the lives of these people that doesn’t happen in the lives of many of us, which is nothing. I know, I exaggerate. But don’t most of us go to work daily, and visit with those at work, if we are allowed? Don’t we all then go home and read a book, visit with our family or not? Don’t many of us chase after the love of our life even if they are not interested? Now, you have the book. Hitomi decides that she is in love with Takep. How she decides this I do not know, but maybe it is because he is the only young man she sees daily. Her world is small. How she gets him in bed I do not know, because Takao isn’t interested in women or sex, nor is he interested in men and sex. Hitomi never gives up, and at the end of the book, well, like I said, she never gives up. Mr. Nakano is married. I know this because he has a mistress, and I don’t think that you can have a mistress unless you are married. I used to know these things, but I am getting old, and so now I only think that I know. He leaves the shop almost every afternoon to go to the bank. His mistress is that bank, the author says. She walks into the store one day and puts a manuscript on the counter. Hitomi picks it up later when she is gone, and she reads it. Erotica. A man is tracing his finger all over a woman’s body in order to excite her. This what they call “foreplay.” I am sure about this word. Hitomi decides to Xerox it and puts her copy in her bag. Takeo should read it, I think. I came into the shop that same day, and I looked around. I found some Japanese bowls that I wanted. Cat food bowls, I thought. They would look good on the floor. I walked up to the counter, but no one was there. I waited. Then I saw the manuscript and began reading. When I was a kid I read everything in sight, even the milk carton. I never lost the habit. I began reading. “Trash,” I thought. “Are they selling trash here now? I am too old for this.” I put the manuscript down. Then Takeo walked over to me and asked if I needed help. “Yes, I do. I wish to buy these bowls. But Here,” I said, as I handed him the manuscript, “Something tells me that you would like this, that you need to read it.” I can be so insulting. That too, comes with old age. No, it doesn’t. I would never sazy that. Hitomi came from out of the backroom just then, and I purchased my bowls and left. Days go by, and the seasons change. It rains, it freezes, it snows, and then the sun comes out. Everyone’s life changes but in some ways, stays the same. And my Japanese cat bowls look good on the floor, but now we have a skunk coming into the house to share food with the cats, but I will write about that in my review of Raccoons.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marisa

    A very quiet, simple novel about the everyday. Full review HERE , but for now I will just say that this is book is just SO JAPANESE. A very quiet, simple novel about the everyday. Full review HERE , but for now I will just say that this is book is just SO JAPANESE.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Phoenix2

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Nakano Thrift Shop is just my cup of tea when it comes to japanese stories: a slice of life story, a problematic, dysfunctional relationship, a sense of coziness and simplicity. The story revolves around the two young employees of the Nakano shop, as their relationship goes from colleagues, to somewhat lovers, to awkward exes. The author uses that story as the axes from which the rest of the small stories started blooming. And she did an excellent job blending small thrift stories, with the The Nakano Thrift Shop is just my cup of tea when it comes to japanese stories: a slice of life story, a problematic, dysfunctional relationship, a sense of coziness and simplicity. The story revolves around the two young employees of the Nakano shop, as their relationship goes from colleagues, to somewhat lovers, to awkward exes. The author uses that story as the axes from which the rest of the small stories started blooming. And she did an excellent job blending small thrift stories, with the main romance, as well as the two siblings' stories. However, the main one got a bit tiring, as the girl was too hung up on the boy, and he, for his part, was just a brute, not talking to her even when they were a couple. The ending, still, was pretty good and more realistic than I was expecting it to be. The author did an amazing job with the portrayal of the unique characters and their growth through time. So, overall, it was a nice pretty interesting book with some good writing and authentic characters.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    Mr. Nakano's Trinkets Shop "On a commercial street in a suburb of Tokyo, there was a seemingly trivial trinkets shop. But here, in a space with nostalgic scent, a succession of betrayed or unfulfilled love stories are weaved with refinement and subtlety. Nakano a late middle age man, owner of the shop, currently in his third marriage and third child with third wife, longs for something undefined and divides his life between his beloved shop and his temporary lovers he meets at the standard Japane Mr. Nakano's Trinkets Shop "On a commercial street in a suburb of Tokyo, there was a seemingly trivial trinkets shop. But here, in a space with nostalgic scent, a succession of betrayed or unfulfilled love stories are weaved with refinement and subtlety. Nakano a late middle age man, owner of the shop, currently in his third marriage and third child with third wife, longs for something undefined and divides his life between his beloved shop and his temporary lovers he meets at the standard Japanese "love hotels". His sister Masayo, is also looking for love, while young Hitomi, hired by Nakano and at the same time, the novel's narrator, has a strange relationship, marked by advances and retreats, with Takeo, another shop employee. All these stories of contemporary life in Japan, are imbued with melancholy and delicate world building which is for the European reader both strange and familiar, because beyond local color, they talk about what is deeply human in all of us" An easy but enchanting and entertaining novel about the travails of a few characters connected to the title store as noted in the blurb; the naive and somewhat otherworldly narrator Hitomi is really enchanting and through her voice we meet the always entertaining Nakano, the sullen, shy and confused Takeo (the on and off love story between Takeo and Hitomi is maybe the weakest part of the book as Hitomi's insistence in pursuing Takeo after a few dates becomes a bit annoying, though by the epilogue several years later when they both mature, things get to a sort of conclusion), the boisterous Masayo, Nakano's sister and co-owner and her recent beau, the "retirement divorced" Maruyama (in Japan quite a few couples divorce when the man retires as the wife finds out she cannot stand having her husband always at home), Nakao's strong willed and elegant current lover Sakiko, a used books store owner, a few regulars and always the objects that come into the store, their stories and owners. The book is structured in chapters generally about an object - the bowl, the paper weight, the envelope, the sewing machine - that comes into the store or is related to it, though they are chronological and form a coherent story not a vignette like one. Another book I couldn't put down when I started it, very different from the other two books i read from the author - if Manazuru is a very emotional book which will disturb, this one is an enchanting one which will ease one's spirit - but quite highly recommended and one to pick when it will hopefully get translated into English too

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karmologyclinic

    Naturalism is nothing new nor is slice of life genre. But leave it to Japan to take something and make it its own. Slice of life anime is my favorite type of anime, I can get lost in no action, under the magnifying lens of the genre that focuses so much on the quotidian that makes it look unreal. The same is achieved with Kawakami's book. It's a brilliant slice of life of The Nakano Thrift Shop (nothing hiding in the title, I love when things are literal). The low page count doesn't mean you shou Naturalism is nothing new nor is slice of life genre. But leave it to Japan to take something and make it its own. Slice of life anime is my favorite type of anime, I can get lost in no action, under the magnifying lens of the genre that focuses so much on the quotidian that makes it look unreal. The same is achieved with Kawakami's book. It's a brilliant slice of life of The Nakano Thrift Shop (nothing hiding in the title, I love when things are literal). The low page count doesn't mean you should read it fast, I didn't, though you can. But, time is essential here, time to think and meditate on the subtleties of empty space, of unspoken words, of inaction, of no-extraordinary characters. More things are hidden in what is not being said, than shown here. And more feeling can come out through the use of language by Kawakami, than by explaining the aforementioned feelings (you will not get explanations for anything in this book, you'll have to infer content based on Hitomi, the main character's narration). For example, in this book I have found the best descriptions of awkwardness, otherwordliness and feeling like you don't belong in the moment, and yet, not described, inferred by the narration of what is going on in Hitomi's mind. Mechanically I nodded. Mechanically I took the croissants out of the bag, mechanically I made some black tea, mechanically I brought the croissants to my lips, mechanically I chewed and swallowed. Takeo must have really been angry, I murmured into the air. But why—what was he angry about? I could keep muttering, there would be no answer. Without my noticing, Mr. Nakano and Masayo had disappeared. A customer came in and I called out a greeting. Mechanically the sun went down. When I checked the record on the register, it said the total for the day had been 53,750 yen. I had no memory of ringing up that much in sales. Cold air blew in from the entrance to the shop. I went to close the glass door, mechanically moving towards the front. The writing reminded me of embroidery. Words and themes picked carefully and stitched together. Each chapter has the title of an item, for example paperweight (brilliant chapter by the way) and the word is assigned an embroidery thread and is stitched all over the chapter, literally, metaphorically, symbolically. Mundane actions, like fingering the faded pink fringe that was glued to the belt of the dress are so focused on that they become powerful actions equal to screaming. Screaming is something a japanese person would avoid at any cost in his everyday life. Instead there are the assertive soudesunes and the sousous and the nes and the hontous that fill up what is never being said. I found myself trying to translate what they said in japanese and that didn't improve my reading speed at all, obviously, but it also made me think that so many details are lost in translation and to someone not accustomed with japanese formal and informal speaking and would leave someone puzzled over the difference between responding to someone with a hai (formal yes) instead with a soudesune (that's so, isn'tit) and why would the writer include that. Digression aside, I think a little bit of understanding of japanese culture would help to comprehend the book, but is not obligatory. What is obligatory though, is doing some work as a reader, let the bland characters (are they really that bland? so many things happen in Hitomi's mind), the silence (filled with thoughts), the absence of action (as important as action) tell the story. Let Kawakami tell the story through her meditative writing: Could Takeo have died on the side of a road? That would serve him right! I thought at the idea of such a thing. But my smugness was soon dampened by the realization of how troublesome it was, just to feel that way—how troublesome it was, really, just to be alive. I wanted nothing to do with love! I wanted the stiffness in my shoulders to go away. I could probably put a bit of money into savings this month. These thoughts drifted by one by one, like tiny bubbles. The flowers I had put in the vase looked as though they were artificial. And yet the ones in the mayonnaise jar looked like normal, real flowers. I put the sketch back, under the envelope. I wondered if a computer-related company would have more computers around. Computers are rectangular. Microwaves are rectangular too. And the gas heater that we had been using when I left the Nakano shop was rectangular too, wasn’t it? These incoherent thoughts went through my mind as I took off my stockings and crumpled them into a ball.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    This is the type of book that pretty much all my friends would expect me to hate, but that I always love. A slice of life novel, more on the humorous than serious side and with little to no plot. Strange for someone who is usually found reading horror or fantasy… What got me started into Japanese literature in the first place was a love of anime, and while yes, when I was younger I delighted in Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop as much as pretty much as all my teenage friends did, the sort of anime This is the type of book that pretty much all my friends would expect me to hate, but that I always love. A slice of life novel, more on the humorous than serious side and with little to no plot. Strange for someone who is usually found reading horror or fantasy… What got me started into Japanese literature in the first place was a love of anime, and while yes, when I was younger I delighted in Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop as much as pretty much as all my teenage friends did, the sort of anime that stuck with me the longest were things like Azumanga Daioh and Genshiken. Both of those could be argued to have a plot in a loose sense (Genshiken more so than Azumanga), but both were pretty much just 20 minute snippets into the lives of these characters. This book is pretty much the same thing, and I love that. It is very train of thought, borderline rambling at times, but always following a cohesive thought process… some of these thought processes are just wonderful. This is a book that is filled with great and truly genuine moments. For example, there is a scene where our narrator thinks that cellphones are a curse in terms of romance. We’re given technology to allow us instant communication at any time, but when texts aren’t responded to immediately, or the phone isn’t picked up during a call, what sort of excuses run through our heads? There is another great moment where a jerk of a landlord places near impossible to remove stickers on the doors of his renters whenever they park or go near his garden. It is the sort of humorous small pettiness that is both ridiculous and completely believable. The structure of the book is very episodic. Each chapter could be a short story (or to keep with my earlier reminiscing, an episode of an anime), in which focuses on a different object that comes into the store, and how our cast reacts to it and the story tied to it. We do get character development from these moments, but to say that it follows a true story would be more than a slight exaggeration. The characters are of the love it or hate it variety. Some readers will be truly annoyed by their vague responses and rather shallow moments. Frankly it reminded me uncomfortably of my 20s (although our narrator is apparently in her early 30s), in that they don't know where they are going or what they want from life. They are directionless and to an extent trying not to grow up. One character even openly refers to herself as a girl rather than a woman, much to the amusement of one of the older ladies, who asks her when the age cutoff for such a term is. As I said, to some their vagueness will be annoying (Drinking game idea! Every time a character vaguely says "I see" rather than actually responding take a shot... no wait, don't do that, you will probably die), but it seemed a little too close to home at times for me. All in all, this is a great slice of life novel. Warm-hearted, funny and with those little moments that you shake your head and wonder if they are based on real life. Not truly a great novel, and certainly not for everyone, but highly satisfactory in my mind. A solid 4 out of 5 stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mobyskine

    A daily slice of life story surrounding the thrift shop owned by Haruo Nakano, told by a narrator Hitomi Suganuma-- the shop assistant. Pretty daring, like just how Mr Nakano said about Tadokoro and Sumiko. The narrative feels so nostalgic and classic, portraying the Nakanos sibling aura-- they love things with tradition. The story telling was fun to read. Hitomi's way of saying things and expressing thoughts were kind of naive but I find it very charming. I like the part when Hitomi imagining s A daily slice of life story surrounding the thrift shop owned by Haruo Nakano, told by a narrator Hitomi Suganuma-- the shop assistant. Pretty daring, like just how Mr Nakano said about Tadokoro and Sumiko. The narrative feels so nostalgic and classic, portraying the Nakanos sibling aura-- they love things with tradition. The story telling was fun to read. Hitomi's way of saying things and expressing thoughts were kind of naive but I find it very charming. I like the part when Hitomi imagining stuff on why Takeo did not answer her calls-- she sounded so innocent. The siblings-- Masayo Nakano, she was like the apple for the plot, she completes the team. And Haruo Nakano-- his way of telling story was my favorite moment. He usually never finished it all at once, always half of it and Hitomi needs to wait for another time to know the ending. I like how his relationship goes with both Hitomi and Takeo. He seems so caring but also quite strict. Takeo Kiryu was a bit mysterious-- stagnant, seems emotionless, sensitive, a kind that will make you worried about hurting his feelings. The combination of them all four really complementing each other. The flow of story captured in shot of chapters that feels like reading a short story in between a novel. Unique and quirky. It was structured well from first to last chapter, loving the writing style and phrases-- I found it very melodious and calm, even at certain hectic scene it was still so simple yet extraordinary. It might be a bit lascivious, few part written with lustful intention so one might feels a bit uncomfortable with it. But I think it helps the development of the plot cause it relates with both relationship and love story of each characters. Reading this honestly making me hungry sometimes-- lemon pie, cherry pie, chicken bento, yakisoba even a bowl of rice that Takeo polished it off with crispy vinegar-ed chicken skin and pickles making me sighed hungrily. Towards the end the plot shifted to melancholy mode, though a bit sadness occurred yet the memories of the thrift shop playing a big role in making me sticking till the end. It was so beautifully lyrical, pulling me inside each phrases like I was there as well being a part of the shop throughout its journey. I love the last chapter a lot. Hug her tightly, Takeo!

  16. 5 out of 5

    L.S. Popovich

    The quiet beauty of a store interior. The intentionality of the setting. The sincere dignity of a retail worker. The cyclical expanse of such a life, confined within shrinking walls, hemmed in by the minutiae of the commercial products of everyday life. Constant exposure to these mundane implements imbues them with chimerical, mystic qualities, and reminds us that a dioramic life can still be a rich one. Very similar to the set up of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, Nakano Thrift Shop t The quiet beauty of a store interior. The intentionality of the setting. The sincere dignity of a retail worker. The cyclical expanse of such a life, confined within shrinking walls, hemmed in by the minutiae of the commercial products of everyday life. Constant exposure to these mundane implements imbues them with chimerical, mystic qualities, and reminds us that a dioramic life can still be a rich one. Very similar to the set up of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, Nakano Thrift Shop takes place in a store in Japan. The employee who narrates our story lives the repetitive rhythms of most retail workers, yet in this manner, exposes the hidden beauties to be found in minimalist lifestyles. That is not to say she is not also fraught with worry, shame, jealousy, loneliness and anxiety. In fact, her experience proves to be both boring and enlightening. What this short novel does well is portray the feeling and nuance of its setting. It lacks dramatic twists and startling lyricism, but possesses the sophisticated clarity and restraint characteristic of the author's other books, all of which I enjoyed to some degree. This is for fans of Banana Yoshimoto and for those who can appreciate the subtleties of a Japan frozen in a state of perpetual unrest and gender tension. This genre is often called Slice of Life. In small doses, it offers a refreshing reprieve from one's own often underwhelming existence.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I absolutely adored how this was written. It was described in the bookshop as a Japanese 'Amelie', and that was so right. I love how episodic it was, and how Kawakami introduced the characters and took the narrative along. It reminded me of 'This Should be Written in the Present Tense' by Helle Helle, and I'd really like to read more Kawakami and translated lit. I absolutely adored how this was written. It was described in the bookshop as a Japanese 'Amelie', and that was so right. I love how episodic it was, and how Kawakami introduced the characters and took the narrative along. It reminded me of 'This Should be Written in the Present Tense' by Helle Helle, and I'd really like to read more Kawakami and translated lit.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I have nothing against slice-of-life type novels, especially translated ones (because who isn't curious about what other people in different countries eat and do and think?), but The Nakano Thrift Shop took me well over a week to get through. Sleeping was always more attractive than reading a few more pages. Each chapter centers around a different object that comes into the thrift store (a life-sized cardboard cut out of a former star, a celadon bowl, a lighter shaped like a pistol), but the sto I have nothing against slice-of-life type novels, especially translated ones (because who isn't curious about what other people in different countries eat and do and think?), but The Nakano Thrift Shop took me well over a week to get through. Sleeping was always more attractive than reading a few more pages. Each chapter centers around a different object that comes into the thrift store (a life-sized cardboard cut out of a former star, a celadon bowl, a lighter shaped like a pistol), but the storyline with the shop's employees is continuous. The problem is that none of them - especially the narrator Hitomi - is very interesting. They have love affairs. They fall out of them. They eat noodles. They wait for people to come into the store. They venture into the foreign land of online auctions. There were a couple of things I liked a lot in here. In one scene, Hitomi curses cell phones because they enable instant communication...and are stubbornly silent when a lover fails to call or text (and one can only make up so many excuses why). In another, an overzealous landlord protecting his garden has pre-printed, difficult to remove stickers to plaster upon the bikes of anyone who dares leave one in the garden. Alas, these moments of quirky wisdom and keen observation are sandwiched between lots of shop talk and emotional waffling. I finished it. I guess that says something.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    The Nakano Thrift Shop Seriously. Got nothing out of this except a long, drawn out “Ewwwwwww!” Mr. Nakano is a bona fide Creeper. Yikes. There were absolutely no ups / downs in plot. Narrative was flat and too understated for this reader. Characters. . .well I didn’t like any of them, much. There is no change from start to finish. . . everyone is asking the same questions. A story told implies that something remarkable (get it?. . .something worthy of remarking verbally) has occurred and should be The Nakano Thrift Shop Seriously. Got nothing out of this except a long, drawn out “Ewwwwwww!” Mr. Nakano is a bona fide Creeper. Yikes. There were absolutely no ups / downs in plot. Narrative was flat and too understated for this reader. Characters. . .well I didn’t like any of them, much. There is no change from start to finish. . . everyone is asking the same questions. A story told implies that something remarkable (get it?. . .something worthy of remarking verbally) has occurred and should be noted and add to the body of knowledge and experience of the cosmos. There’s nothing here that would have turned out differently if this story had never been told. It isn’t even a “day in the life of” type tale. Not an expose of Mr. N’s creepy-ness. . . in fact, I think that is simply accepted as old dudes doing what old dudes do and you gotta let them. . . . Ah. Maybe there’s the rub for me. . . . Hated it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    3.5/5stars Hiromi Kawakami's books intrigued me. This is the second of hers I've read and it remains that it's like nothing I've read before, and I'm not even necessarily why I keep coming back for more. Her books are more like collections of short stories, except that they follow the same characters and all the stories connect to each other - but each chapter basically has its own thing going on and happening. And, her books are almost boring, but not in a bad way? I'm not sure how to explain 3.5/5stars Hiromi Kawakami's books intrigued me. This is the second of hers I've read and it remains that it's like nothing I've read before, and I'm not even necessarily why I keep coming back for more. Her books are more like collections of short stories, except that they follow the same characters and all the stories connect to each other - but each chapter basically has its own thing going on and happening. And, her books are almost boring, but not in a bad way? I'm not sure how to explain it, but her books are about such HUMAN things and humans are notoriously boring. I did enjoy this, it's just such a strange enjoyment lol

  21. 5 out of 5

    JenniferD

    hmm... so, while this story had its moments, overall it all felt very flat to me, the story and the characters. i did quite like masayo - sister of the thrift shop owner, mr. nakano. masayo was layered, and interesting; the story was more lively when she was in any scene.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lulufrances

    Shocker! Low rating from me! Not that this was by any means a bad book! It did have its moments and it wasn't a pain in the buttocks to read or anything - but something just fell flat pour moi. Dare I say the b-word? Well yes, I was a lil... bored . A whimsical Japanese episodic story which seemed more like an interlinked short story collection than a consecutive narrative (which it was, though) and didn't hold any memorable moments for me. Oh apart from this crazy metalevel reading experience: there' Shocker! Low rating from me! Not that this was by any means a bad book! It did have its moments and it wasn't a pain in the buttocks to read or anything - but something just fell flat pour moi. Dare I say the b-word? Well yes, I was a lil... bored . A whimsical Japanese episodic story which seemed more like an interlinked short story collection than a consecutive narrative (which it was, though) and didn't hold any memorable moments for me. Oh apart from this crazy metalevel reading experience: there's a sentence in it along the lines of "The first of April was a Saturday" or similar, which - y'all guessed it - I read on the first of April. WHICH WAS A SATURDAY. (I know. If this was my coolest experience with the plot, the rating explains itself...)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Magen

    Writing a review for this type of book is hard for me. It's a book I greatly enjoyed, but I don't necessarily think you will enjoy, but I so very much want to convince you to give it a chance! How do I do that in a review? In real life, it would involve some level of hand waving and bouncing from foot to foot. I'll try to replicate that here. There is so much depth in this book. I am amazed at how the author was able to focus in on this small window of time and end up saying so much. But every th Writing a review for this type of book is hard for me. It's a book I greatly enjoyed, but I don't necessarily think you will enjoy, but I so very much want to convince you to give it a chance! How do I do that in a review? In real life, it would involve some level of hand waving and bouncing from foot to foot. I'll try to replicate that here. There is so much depth in this book. I am amazed at how the author was able to focus in on this small window of time and end up saying so much. But every thing said is subtle, gently set before you, and left for you to decide if you want take it. It is the kind of book that will slowly pull you into its depths or leave you bored and confused. If you are a reader who prefers action packed books, this is definitely not for you. Almost nothing happens in this book. If you are a reader who needs everything to be clear and direct, this book is not for you. But if you enjoy the subtle, the meandering, the contemplation, then you will likely greatly enjoy this book. There is something small and perfect about it. There is something fundamental about it. And there are definitely a lot of things about it that I can't explain in words. Picture me excuding excitement here instead. If you are interested in reading a book set in a culture different from your own, this is a good book for that. Because it focuses so well on the every day, it gives a deep picture of a culture in a different country. If the summary sounds interesting to you, definitely pick this up and give it a go. Read a bit longer than you normally do before you bail. There will come a moment when it is too good to turn back from. I hope you get to that point, read to the end, and find you enjoyed it. I received this book free though Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Hiromi Kawakami, Goodreads, and the publisher for giving me the chance to read this book with no obligation to review this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ridzuan Rosli

    It feels like watching a sitcom series. Funny, irritating and enjoyable. I smile and laugh and annoyed at different pages. And I love it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

    Charming, quirky, & unassuming.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Sweet and charming and fun. It's easy to fall in love with the characters when reading this book. There's a relatability to their oddness! The writing is lovely but at times I found the plot kind of plodded along in a boring way. It was nice to read but I didn't find it exciting or interesting. Still quite a nice read. I preferred the other book I have read by her Strange Weather in Tokyo. Sweet and charming and fun. It's easy to fall in love with the characters when reading this book. There's a relatability to their oddness! The writing is lovely but at times I found the plot kind of plodded along in a boring way. It was nice to read but I didn't find it exciting or interesting. Still quite a nice read. I preferred the other book I have read by her Strange Weather in Tokyo.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vishy

    I got Hiromi Kawakami's 'The Nakano Thrift Shop' as a Christmas present from one of my favourite friends. I picked it up a couple of days back and couldn't stop till I finished reading it. Mr. Nakano owns a thrift shop which sells all kinds of things which others have given away, things like old furniture, a rice cooker from the '70s, used clothes, old photographs, old plates, kitchenware, cigarette lighters, stuff like that. Nakano's shop has a dedicated customer base, who like these things and I got Hiromi Kawakami's 'The Nakano Thrift Shop' as a Christmas present from one of my favourite friends. I picked it up a couple of days back and couldn't stop till I finished reading it. Mr. Nakano owns a thrift shop which sells all kinds of things which others have given away, things like old furniture, a rice cooker from the '70s, used clothes, old photographs, old plates, kitchenware, cigarette lighters, stuff like that. Nakano's shop has a dedicated customer base, who like these things and buy them. Sometimes new customers come looking for specific things – like a plate with a particular design from the '70s. People who are moving house or throwing away their old stuff call Mr.Nakano, and sell their stuff to him for throwaway prices, or give it to him for free, because it is cheaper than disposing them away properly, because they have to pay more if they did that. Our narrator Hitomi works in Nakano's shop alongwith Takeo. Sometimes Nakano's sister Masayo comes to help out. These four people are almost like family. The book follows the thrift shop adventures of these four, the interesting people they meet during the course of the day, their lives, their loves, their heartbreaks, their affairs, and everything in between. I won't tell you more, you should read the book and discover their stories. 'The Nakano Thrift Shop' is a charming book. I loved most of the characters in the book, especially our narrator Hitomi, Nakano's sister Masayo, Nakano's lover the fascinating Sakiko, Takeo who works in Nakano's shop, and Hagiwara, a young man who tries to give an expensive, ancient bowl to the thrift shop. Hiromi Kawakami's prose flows serenely like a river and once I started reading the book, I was taken away by this serene flow and couldn't stop reading till I finished it. It was tranquil and serene and calming. It was like meeting your favourite person and listening to them talk. One of the things that I loved about the book was the way it showcased Japanese culture. I love it when authors do that. I learnt many fascinating things through the book – for example, the different kinds of Japanese noodles, ramen, soba, tanmen, yakisoba, other Japanese food like katsudon, bento lunch, mochi rice cakes, something called the kotatsu (a table type thing with an attached heater – check it out in Wikipedia, it is fascinating), the Chinchirorin game, the furoshiki wrapping, Japanese actresses Kaoru Yumi and Seiko Matsuda, kazahana snow (the description in the book goes like this – "It had been snowing on and off since the morning. It's called kazahana, when the snow is so fine like this, it seems as if it drifted in on the wind, Masayo said.") It was fascinating reading about all this and doing research and learning more about Japanese culture. I loved 'The Nakano Thrift Shop'. I look forward to reading more books by Hiromi Kawakami, especially 'Strange Weather in Tokyo'. I'll leave you with some of my favourite passages from the book. "Over the course of an hour, three customers came in; one of them bought a pair of old glasses. I wondered why anyone wanted to buy glasses that weren't the right prescription, but it turned out that old glasses were a sleeper bestseller at Mr.Nakano's shop. "People buy things exactly because they're of no use," Mr.Nakano liked to say. Is that how it is? I said. "Hitomi, do you like useful things?" Mr.Nakano asked with a grin." "The thing is, there is always the chance that this person – the one you accused – might be dying. When I was young, I didn't think about people dying. But when you get to be my age, people can drop dead, just like that. In an accident. From an illness. By their own hand. By someone else's hand. Or just naturally. People die much more easily at this age than when they are young. They might drop dead right at the moment when you blamed them for something. They might die the very next day. Or a month later. Or smack in the middle of the following season. In any case, you never know when people of ripe age will just croak. It keeps you up at night. Having to worry about whether someone is healthy enough to tolerate my fierce hatred or criticism before I decide to blame them – that's what I call getting old." "...in contrast to the creepiness around him, Tadokoro gave off a pleasant smell. Rather than any particular cologne, the aroma seemed to have more of a warm presence, something like fragrant tea or freshly roasted rice cakes. The scent was completely different from the impression Tadokoro himself emanated." Have you read 'The Nakano Thrift Shop'? What do you think about it? Which is your favourite Hiromi Kawakami book?

  28. 5 out of 5

    JimZ

    Japanese version, 2005. I truly liked these people. Each chapter was sort of like a different story. I wanted the protagonist and Takeo to get together in the end, and they did. I can't believe I gave this an A+ and I gave her last book an F. Japanese version, 2005. I truly liked these people. Each chapter was sort of like a different story. I wanted the protagonist and Takeo to get together in the end, and they did. I can't believe I gave this an A+ and I gave her last book an F.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wiebke (1book1review)

    This was a wonderful insight in a group of characters working together in a thrift store. I liked reading about the little episodes of their life, their relationship with each other and also about the events at the store. It's a quiet book with awkward characters. This was a wonderful insight in a group of characters working together in a thrift store. I liked reading about the little episodes of their life, their relationship with each other and also about the events at the store. It's a quiet book with awkward characters.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Padmaja (thebookishtales)

    This was a beautiful and a quirky read. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of reading it ♥️ 🍭 Hitomi, the inexperienced salesgirl, falls for the quiet and usually reserved Takeo. Both are awkward personalities dealing with adulting. The owner, Mr Nakano is an odd duck, very random but very adorable nevertheless. I also loved Mr Nakano's sister, the strong, independent Masayo, whose love life is very complicated unlike her beautiful creations. The writing is poetic and so is the translation. The over This was a beautiful and a quirky read. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of reading it ♥️ 🍭 Hitomi, the inexperienced salesgirl, falls for the quiet and usually reserved Takeo. Both are awkward personalities dealing with adulting. The owner, Mr Nakano is an odd duck, very random but very adorable nevertheless. I also loved Mr Nakano's sister, the strong, independent Masayo, whose love life is very complicated unlike her beautiful creations. The writing is poetic and so is the translation. The overall vibe of the book is very charming. 🍭 This book may seem slow paced for some people, but I gobbled it up like a delicious parantha with makkhan. It was nothing like I ever read before. Hitomi's feelings towards the charming Takeo, the uncertainty of her feelings, whether it's love or not. I love reading about mundane lives, thanks to a certain Mr Murakami. Another thing I love about Japanese literature is how a sense of reality is constantly present. Kawakami managed to bring depths to the characters. She is so subtle in her writing. There was nothing forced about the plot or the characters. I didn't expect to love it this much when I started reading the book, it was almost impossible to put it down. 🍭 The chapters were named very cleverly with each chapter name relating to the thrift shop. However, I am not sure if I'll recommend this book to you or not, it'd quite an oddball of a story.If you're someone who loves gentle and quiet reads then this book is for you. I am so glad I discovered Kawakami. Definitely reading other works by her. Already finished reading Strange weather in Tokyo. I read this book with soft songs playing in the background. I have a strange attachment towards Japanese, and I gobble up anything which is translated from that language. 4.5 ⭐

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