Tokyo, Japan

‘The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro’ by Kanji Hanawa, published today, is a brilliant subtle multi-layered novelette that takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery

The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro by Kanji Hanawa published 1 January 2020 in the critically acclaimed series of short Japanese books Red Circle Minis.
The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro, a Japanese tale – not about daring ninja or battling samurai – but a hero, with a very different penchant, by the Akutagawa Prize-nominated master short story writer Hanji Hanawa, was published today 1 January 2020. 

The Chronicle of Lord Asunaro, which is according to the Asian Review of Book“redolent of Sir Walter Scott” and  a “strange, gentle, layered work,” is being published as part of Red Circle Minis, a series of short captivating books by Japan’s finest contemporary writers. 

Display of the first five books published in the series Red Circle Minis. Photograph: Red Circle Authors Limited
Based on an actual historical figure, Hanawa, takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery, as Lord Asunaro inherits his own Japanese fiefdom and grapples with his role and ultimate legacy. Hanawa provides us with an unusual and entertaining perspective on the psychology of change within Japan when it was still ruled by its men of steel, samurai and shoguns. 

As Japan emerges from the conflict-ridden era dominated by infamous warlords into a golden age of plenty, a young lord – heir to a vast domain and incumbent ruler of all he surveys – lives deep within a spiralling castle.  

From the pen of Hanawa, this cleverly spun tale features our young Lord Asunaro, a ‘warlord’ who doesn’t fit the brave samurai stereotype, as he faces a modernising world where learning now outvalues military prowess.

Carrying the legacy of his bloodline, he is compelled to find his place among the great figures of his ancestors. 

Hanawa’s charming story, The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro is translated by Meredith McKinney, and takes the reader back to life and leadership in feudal Japan – while also exploring universal themes of legacy, inheritance, expectations, the weight of history and of the future, as well as the psychology of change.

The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro, a short read that stays with you long after you put the book down, is both thought-provoking and humorous, and is the perfect novelette to start the New Year with or the new decade, if you prefer to think in multi-year periods, as we all contemplate our own futures.

The Chronicles of Lord Asunaro by Kanji Hanawa published 1 January 2020 in the critically acclaimed series of short Japanese books Red Circle Minis.
  • 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:
    • Kanji Hanawa
      About Kanji Hanawa:
      Kanji Hanawa, a former professor of French literature is a master of the shorty story. He wrote hundreds and dedicated his life to writing short stories and novella about life in ancient, modern and contemporary Japan. Two of his short stories have been shortlisted for the prestigious Akutagawa Literary Prize. Hanawa’s tales reflect a deep interest in human psychology and complex relationships – whose narratives expose the pressures and challenges of life in Japan.