Tokyo, Japan

Interview with Takuji Ichikawa the multi-million selling Japanese author best known for his novel ‘Be With You’

Takuji Ichikawa the multi-million selling Japanese author best known for his 2003 novel Be With You. Photograph: LITALICO.

Red Circle, the curated group of award-winning Japanese writers, has published an extensive interview in English with the Japanese author Takuji Ichikawa, an imaginative storyteller with a growing international reputation. And because he ignores traditional boundaries, he’s an author who’s impossible to pigeonhole.

Ichikawa is best known for his second novel Be With You (Ima Ai ni Yukimasu) which became a blockbuster, selling more than a million copies in Japan. This put him on the Japanese literary map, and lead to this powerful and positive tale of loss and love being reimagined as several major feature films in Japan, Korean and China.

The interview is best read in parallel with the detailed profile of Ichikawa, whose positive fantastical narratives are said to touch the soul through storytelling that ‘transforms and heals’, on Red Circle’s website.

Ichikawa’s section on Red Circle’s website includes a biography of his career and early life as well as Ichikawa talking about the impact of discovering that he was on the autistic spectrum after finding publishing success – a diagnosis that has helped him both personally and creatively.

Takuji Ichikawa’s study where he writes his novels, usually writing from 5.00 a.m. until noon, his so-called ‘writing-time’ after which he runs, and repeats writing with running most days.  Photogragh: Red Circle Authors Limited

“It’s writing as a form of self-therapy,” Ichikawa says. “In that sense, the primary motivation is probably self-therapy, and freedom from inhibition. Even when I am not typing I am always spinning words in my head’, he adds.

In this rare English language interview Ichikawa, whose books have been translated into English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Arabic, Malaysian, and Chinese, the author talks about why he writes; describes his creative process; his favourite books, manga and anime; and espouses why he believes international interest in Japan is one the rise.

In answer to this question, he says: “Japan is a nation of people that has had faith in 8 million deities. A polytheistic nation that develops rapidly economically, and communicates its culture to the world, creates a chemical reaction that ignites heat, enthusiasm, from other cultural groups. Opposites attract”.

He rightly points out that it is also important to think about this from the Japanese perspective and not just from the view of one of the millions of tourists who now visit Japan every year. “Thinking about it from the opposite perspective, Japanese people are also very interested in the West. This is an interplay”, he adds.

The interview split into seven sections covering: Readers, Books, Writing, Reading, Japan, Interests, and Life can be read here within a subsection of his detailed author page on Red Circles Author’s website.

Later this year, Red Circle will publish an original new work by Ichikawa in its critically acclaimed series Red Circle Minis, launched last year.

This new work will be published in English translation before any other language including Japanese as part of Red Circle Authors Limited’s English-first publishing strategy.

Display of the first three books published in the series Red Circle Minis. Photograph: Red Circle Authors Limited
  • RedCircle
    About Red Circle:
    Red Circle Authors Limited is a specialist publishing and communications company that conducts bespoke projects on behalf of a carefully selected and curated group of leading Japanese authors. Red Circle showcases Japan’s best creative writing. For more information on Red Circle, Japanese literature, and Red Circle authors please visit:
    • Takuji Ichikawa
      About Takuji Ichikawa:
      Takuji Ichikawa is an author who ignores traditional boundaries, and is impossible to pigeonhole; whose positive fantastical narratives touch the soul through storytelling that not only 'transforms and heals', but also sells in the millions.