Takuji Ichikawa

An author who ignores traditional boundaries, and is impossible to pigeonhole. One whose positive and fantastical narratives touch the soul through storytelling that not only ‘transforms and heals’, but also sells in the millions.
“I think being different is being special. You need to believe in your own perspective.”
Takuji Ichikawa, one of Japan’s most creative authors with a completely unique perspective – even by Japanese standards – dreamt of becoming an author at primary school, and is proud when his books are criticised for being esoteric, romantic, and sentimental tear-jerkers. Ichikawa firmly believes in the transformative power of imagination; that dreams can come true; and that we can change the world we live in for the better.

After initially publishing stories on the Internet, his second novel Ima Ai ni Yukimasu (Be With You), became a blockbuster, selling more than a million copies in Japan, putting Ichikawa on the Japanese literary map. The publication of Be With You, in fact, triggered its very own cycle of creativity by sparking the imagination of others. Leading to the creation of a film and two international remakes, a television drama, and a manga.

Ichikawa’s works, which often depict love and loss, continue to resonate and be adapted for film both in Japan and further afield. And he continues to consistently demonstrate that literature has and should have no borders.
“The power of his storytelling is due to the candour of the feelings expressed. As if, confusing reality, somewhat magically, is what makes literature compelling giving it the power to delight and please,” Le Monde.
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  • August 3, 2020
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  • Monkey Man
  • Original, Short and Compelling Reads

    Monkey Man

    by Takuji Ichikawa

    A world on the brink of disaster where children with new attitudes are awakening – some with strange new abilities. In Monkey Man, Takuji Ichikawa, one of Japan’s most imaginative, bestselling and unusual authors, pointedly challenges readers to consider how we can change the inevitable course of history and save the human race from itself.

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  • Takuji Ichikawa

Takuji Ichikawa, born in Chofu City in the greater Tokyo Metropolitan area in 1962, dreamt of being an author when we was in primary school, but only started writing seriously in his late 20s after the birth of his first child, shortly after getting married.

Ichikawa’s path, however, to becoming a bestselling author was neither direct nor conventional. After graduating from Dokkyo University, a well-regarded private university located in Saitama close to Tokyo, where he studied economics and ran the 800 metres as a member of the university’s athletics club, he landed a job at a publishing company.

Ichikawa, however, couldn’t cope with the life of a salaryman or an office full of adults, and quit after just three months, deciding instead to cycle around Japan and postpone working life.

After two years of flitting from one part time job to another he started working at a small tax accountancy office, which he found less intimidating, friendly and structured, and where he stayed for 14 years.

Initially, Ichikawa started writing stories for his wife, who he met in high school, and was soon boasting shortly after getting married, at the age of 27, that one day one of his stories would end up being made into a major film, and probably in Hollywood.

  • With dramatic effect, Ichikawa decided to change tact, developing his own narrative style
Separation, by Takuji Ichikawa, 2002.

In 1997, Ichikawa started sharing his stories outside the family and began publishing works on the Internet. Originally, Ichikawa set his sights on becoming a mystery writer, and unsuccessfully submitted his work to various Japanese competitions and newcomer prizes.

He then, with dramatic effect, decided to change tact, developing his own narrative style and a more authentic creative approach to storytelling.

Ichikawa’s breakthrough came in 2002 with the publication of his debut novel Separation by AlphaPolis, which was a relatively new publishing company at that time.

Separation was then released the following year as a television mini-series, broadcast weekly by Nippon Television between July and September 2003, under a different title: 14ヶ月~妻が子供に還っていく~ (14 Months), establishing Ichikawa as an important new creative voice in Japan.

Japanese film poster for Ima Aini Yukimasu (Be With You) released in 2004.

His follow up work, Ima Aini Yukimasu (Be With You), published in 2003 by Shogakukan, one of Japan’s leading and best known publishers, became a publishing sensation, selling more than a million copies.

Be With You was also launched as a film in Japan, with two subsequent international remakes in Korea and China, and as a 10-part television series in Japan, this time with the same title as the book. The English language film rights, as Ichikawa predicted to his wife when they were first married, have been bought by a Hollywood producer.

  • Three of Ichikawa’s books have sold over three million copies in Japan
Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be with You), 2003.

Collectively, the three books Ichikawa is now best known for Ima Aini Yukimasu (Be With You), Ren’ai Shashin (Love’s Photographs) and Sono Toki wa Kare ni Yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes) have sold more than three million copies in Japan.

After establishing his reputation as a successful author and storyteller, Ichikawa was interviewed by a magazine journalist who noticed his unusual speech pattern and choice of words. The journalist suggested that he might want to look into whether he had Asperger’s Syndrome. This was, in fact, later confirmed when he followed up on the suggestion.

Sono Toki wa Kare ni Yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2004.

Being informed by a medial professional that he was on the autistic spectrum was a very important milestone in Ichikawa’s life. It helped him put into context his childhood, his panic attacks, his anxieties and sensitivities, and his obsessive belief in the power of imagination – as well as his own storytelling. All of which helps explain why Ichikawa himself, like his narratives, do not fit in or fall within conventional definitions.

He now talks openly and writes about this, and the importance of diversity in all societies, especially Japan’s, and hopes his diagnosis and success story will inspire others.

Ichikawa cites John Irving and Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) as authors he admires and have influenced him. Nevertheless, typical publishing boundaries and genres, like social boundaries and conventions, are not something that Ichikawa understands or recognises. Nor does he believe that anyone should be limited in the way they choose to express themselves. He encourages everyone he meets to embrace and celebrate their differences and diversity.

Currently, Ichikawa lives in Saitama with his wife where he grew up and went to university, in a home he designed and built for himself filled with greenery and light.

He publishes a new novel most years, and these days still enjoys running as well walking as opposed to competitive running, which Ichikawa says makes him feel connected to the Earth, giving him peace of mind, while at the same time making him more tenacious and creative.

  • Takuji Ichikawa

Takuji Ichikawa was born in Chofu City in the greater Tokyo area in 1962, and attended primary school in Fuchu before he moved to Saitama where he went to junior high school and now still lives.

At school he wanted to be the ‘idiotic adorable kid’ who was popular with all, but school life wasn’t easy for him. He found it hard to follow the rules or conventions and sit still; something that can still be a challenge when he is excited or not writing at his desk. His extreme behaviour led to one of his teachers saying that he had never come across a ‘problem child’ like Ichikawa in his long teaching career.

Despite this, Ichikawa dreamt of being an author while still at primary school. It’s something he likes to draw on today as an example of the power our imagination has to transform lives, society and individuals, including himself.

Later in life Ichikawa was confirmed as having Asperger’s Syndrome, a disorder that since 2013 is no longer considered a single disorder, but part of what is now known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Understanding this, which only happened after the publication of his first books, not only helped Ichikawa put his difficult childhood and early life into perspective, but also enabled him to connect better with his own abilities and creativity.

Despite the challenges Ichikawa faced growing up and fitting into the Japanese education system and Japanese society, he managed to win a place at Dokkyo University, a well-regarded private university where he studied economics; and marry his junior high school class mate, a star of their school’s gymnastics team, who is now an aerobics instructor.

Royalties from his books have allowed Ichikawa and his wife to build their own house, which he designed to match both their needs perfectly. They live in Saitama close to where they went to school together, proving to both of them at least that dreams do come true.

  • Japanese Editions
  • Hattatsu shogai dakara tsuyoku nareta - Boku ga hattatsu shogai dakara dekita koto (Kanzenban) (Stronger Because: What my Development Disorder helped me achieve, The Complete Edition), 2021[Bunko]
  • Boku ga hattatsushogai dakara dekita koto (What I Could Do Because of My Developmental Disorder), 2016
  • Shishōsetsu (I Novel), 2018
  • Kowareta jitensha de boku wa yuku (As I Ride My Broken Bicycle), 2015
  • Kowareta jitensha de boku wa yuku (As I Ride My Broken Bicycle), 2018[Bunko]
  • MM (MM), 2017
  • Eien ni tokenai pazuru (The Eternally Unsolved Puzzle), 2019[Bunko]
  • Konnanimo yasashii, sekai no owarikata (Such a Gentle Ending of the World), 2013
  • Konnanimo yasashii, sekai no owarikata (Such a Gentle Ending of the World), 2016[Bunko]
  • Nē, iincho (Hey, Chairman), 2012
  • Nē, iincho (Hey, Chairman), 2014[Bunko]
  • Bokura wa yoru ni shika awanakatta (We Only Ever Met At Night), 2011
  • Bokura wa yoru ni shika awanakatta (We Only Ever Met At Night), 2014[Bunko]
  • Kyuruiki (demon-Lovers of Tears), 2010
  • Kyuruiki (demon-Lovers of Tears), 2012[Bunko]
  • Boku no te ha kimi no tameni (For you are my hand), 2007
  • Boku no te ha kimi no tameni (For you are my hand), 2010[Bunko]
  • Wasurenai. Okurimono wo meguru ju no hanashi (Unforgotten. Ten Stories That Revolve around a Single Gift), 2007Multi-Author Title [Bunko]
  • I LOVE YOU, 2005Multi-Author Title
  • I LOVE YOU, 2007Multi-Author Title [Bunko]
  • Sono toki wa kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2004
    Adapted for Film/TV
  • Sono toki wa kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2007[Bunko]
  • Sono toki wa kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2007[Comics]
  • Renai shashin (Love's Photographs), 2003
    Adapted for Film/TV
  • Renai shashin (Love's Photographs), 2008[Bunko]
  • Tada kimi o aishiteru (Heavenly Forest), 2006[Comics]
  • Hiromi: Musuko ga umi ni kaeru asa (Hiromi - Morning son must eventually return to the sea), 2005
  • Hiromi: Musuko ga umi ni kaeru asa (Hiromi - Morning son must eventually return to the sea), 2007[Bunko]
  • Sekaiju ga ame dattara (If It Was Rain All over the World), 2005
  • Sekaiju ga ame dattara (If It Was Rain All over the World), 2007[Bunko]
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2003
    Adapted for Film/TV
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2007[Bunko]
  • Oboeteitene: Akaibusei monogatari (Forget Me Not─A Tale of Archive Star), 2004
  • Separation, 2002
    Adapted for Film/TV
  • Kimi wa boku no (You Are My), 2006
  • Kimi wa boku no (You Are My), 2009[Bunko]
  • Separation ─ Kimi ga kaeru basho (Separation ─ The Place You Return To), 2006[Bunko]
  • Voice, 2006[Bunko]
  • +
  • English Editions
  • Monkey Man
    Monkey Man, 2021Red Circle Minis [Paperback]
  • The Refugees' Daughter
    The Refugees' Daughter, 2019Red Circle Minis [Paperback]
  • Be With You, 2006
  • Be With You, 2008[Paperback comics]
  • Other Editions
  • Dis-lui que je l'attends (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2014French Edition [Paperback]
  • Dis-lui que je l'attends (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2015French Edition [Paperback]
  • Je reviendrai avec la pluie (Be With You), 2012French Edition [Paperback]
  • Je reviendrai avec la pluie (Be With You), 2014French Edition [Paperback]
  • Sono tornata, amore (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2011Italian Edition [Paperback]
  • Quando cadrà la pioggia tornerò (Be With You), 2020Italian Edition
  • Quando cadrà la pioggia tornerò (Be With You), 2008Italian Edition
  • Quando cadrà la pioggia tornerò (Be With You), 2011Italian Edition [Paperback]
  • Contigo Para Sempre (Be With You), 2011Portuguese Edition [Paperback]
  • Bij jou zijn (Be With You), 2011Dutch Edition [Paperback]
  • Sayonara, Mio (Be With You), 2011Spanish Edition [Paperback]
  • Sono toki wa kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2010Chinese Edition [Paperback]
  • Sono toki wa kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2017Chinese Edition [Bunko]
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2017Chinese Edition [Bunko]
  • Renai shashin (Love's Photographs), 2005Chinese Edition
  • Separation, 2009Chinese Edition
  • Sono toki wa kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2006Taiwanese/Hong Kong Chinese Edition
  • Kyuruiki (demon-Lovers of Tears), 2014Taiwanese/Hong Kong Chinese Kong Edition
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2005Taiwanese/Hong Kong Chinese Edition [Paperback]
  • Boku no te wa kimi no tameni (For you are my hand), 2009Taiwanese/Hong Kong Chinese Edition [Paperback]
  • Sekaijyu ga ame dattara (If It Was Rain All over the World), 2007Taiwanese/Hong Kong Chinese Edition
  • I LOVE YOU, 2006Multi-Author Title, Taiwanese/Hong Kong Chinese Edition
  • Renai shashin (Love's Photographs), 2005Taiwanese/Hong Kong Chinese Edition
  • Renai shashin (Love's Photographs), 2007Hong Kong Chinese Edition [Comics]
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2005Hong Kong Chinese Edition [Comics]
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2006Hong Kong Chinese Edition [Comics]
  • Sono toki wa kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2008Hong Kong Chinese Edition [Comics]
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2006Taiwanese Edition [Comics]
  • Sono toki wa kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2007Taiwanese Edition [Comics]
  • Renai shashin (Love's Photographs), 2007Taiwanese Edition [Comics]
  • Separation, 2006Taiwanese Edition
  • I LOVE YOU, 2007Multi-Author Title, Korean Edition
  • Separation, 2009Korean Edition
  • Separation, 2005Korean Edition
  • Hiromi - Musuko ga umi ni kaeru asa (Hiromi - Morning son must eventually return to the sea), 2005Korean Edition
  • Sekaijyu ga ame dattara (If It Was Rain All over the World), 2006Korean Edition
  • Ima Ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2018Korean Edition
  • Ima Ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2005Korean Edition
  • Renai shashin (Love's Photographs), 2009Korean Edition
  • Sono toki ha kare ni yoroshiku (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2005Korean Edition
  • Oboeteitene: Akaibusei monogatari (Forget Me Not ─ A Tale of Archive Star), 2005Korean Edition
  • MM - Chuyen ve co gai Ay (MM), 2019Vietnamese Edition
  • The gioi ket thuc diu dang den the (Such a gentle ending of the world), 2019Vietnamese Edition
  • Neu gap nguoi ay cho toi gui loi chao (Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes), 2018Vietnamese Edition
  • Ban tay cho em (For you are my hand), 2018Vietnamese Edition
  • Tam anh tinh yeu (Love's Photographs), 2017Vietnamese Edition
  • Toi van nghe tieng em tham goi (Voice), 2016Vietnamese Edition
  • Toi van nghe tieng em tham goi (Voice), 2019Vietnamese Edition
  • Noi Em Quay Ve Co Toi Dung Doi (Separation), 2016Vietnamese Edition [Paperback]
  • Em se den cung con mua (Be With You), 2012Vietnamese Edition [Paperback]
  • Satu Musim Untuk Selamanya (Be With You), 2011Malaysian Edition[Paperback comics]
  • Separation, 2005Thai Edition
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2019Thai Edition
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2005Thai Edition
  • Ima ai ni yukimasu (Be With You), 2008Thai Edition
  • Renai shashin (Love's Photographs), 2008Thai Edition
  • Renai shashin (Be With You), 2015Arabian Edition
  • +
The titles above are a selection of Takuji Ichikawa's works. A full list of his publications can be downloaded here as a PDF file.
  • Prize-winningPrize-winning
  • Prize nomineePrize nominee
  • Adapted for Film/TVAdapted for Film/TV
  • In Japan there are two major book formats tanko-bon (Tanko) and bunko-bon (Bunko). See Factbook for explanation. The smaller images above are of the Bunko Editions, small-format paperbacks.
  • Readers:
Do you write with a specific reader in mind or do you write for yourself?

The motivation is different each time and changes.

It’s writing as a form of self-therapy.

A novel might be like a long love letter, making a declaration to my wife.

The Refugees’ Daughter, my first Red Circle Mini, is about trying to increase the total sum of kindness in the world to the greatest extent possible.

That said, who I actually write for is multi-layered, and intertwined.

What is the most interesting question that you have been asked by one of your readers?

Many people seem surprised that despite the fact that I am on the autism spectrum that I write novels, and love-stories to boot!

How can you write novels?

I have had that question thrown at me many times.

I am not good at dealing with complex human-relationships, but when it comes to minimalist-relationships, and relationships based on simple pure love I probably understand them much better than your average person.

Or maybe it is because from an early age I looked after my mother who often struggled emotionally, learning naturally about love and kindness.

Do you ever look at comments on websites made by your readers? And if so, is there any particular one you recall?

I very rarely cast my eye over reader comments. However, there are some comments that have left an impression.

One of them was that:

…after reading Takuji Ichikawa’s novel I had no idea how to describe the emotional feeling that had taken root in my heart. These strange feelings lasted for days…

That is what I want from my readers.

To what extent can non verbal feelings and emotions that can’t be expressed in words actually be conveyed using words?
That’s my major theme.

  • Books:
Which book are you best known for and how would you describe it?

Be With You, Ima Aini Yukimasu, as it has been translated into many different languages and is easy to get hold of.

It is a story of reunion beyond death with a beloved wife.

Anxiety from the loss of a loved one is a massive obsession of mine. It is not limited to this novel.

I still continue to write about people facing loss in many different ways and reunion.

Perhaps I am trying to build a religion just for me within my novels.

Which of your books would you recommend reading first?

Now Just for a Moment Seeing that Smile, Ima Hitotabi Ano Hyojo Mini.

It is a short story that brings together all of the elements in me in a simple and concise manner, expressed and written in its best form.

Separation and reunion is an autism spectrum type of obsession.

Nostalgia. Time. Memory. Love and sympathy. Fantasy. Lyrical-expression.

It is a story about a group of teenage boys and girls, afflicted by a peculiar-illness, living together in a dormitory.

Have any of your books or works been adapted for TV or Film?

My debut work, Separation, was made into a TV series with the title 14 Months. It’s a story about a rejuvenating wife, who eventually ends becoming a young girl.

Be With You, Ima Aini Yukimasu, has been adapted for film and made into a TV series in Japan. The film was also remade in China and Korea.

Love’s Photographs, Ren’ai Shashin, has been adapted for film in Japan. It is a tale of a girl afflicted with a terrible and strange illness that means falling in love would lead to her death.

Say Hello to Him When the Times Comes, Sono Toki wa Kare ni Yoroshiku, has been adapted for film in Japan. It is a story of a young man who is in love with a woman, who has been asleep for years, and coincidental meetings with dead people in dreams that change their fate.

Do you have any favourite book covers?

I’ll Go on My Broken Bicycle, Kowareta Jidensha de Boku wa Yuku.

The moment I saw the bound copy I cried visibly. It is the only time this has happened.

The shape of the joyous dream that the male hero had been pursuing all his life was drawn in a wondrous pattern.

How do you come up with the titles for your works? Does the title come first or the narrative?

Mostly, the stories come first. A title comes to mind, naturally as I write.

In my case a phrase in the novel, just as it is written, on many occasions ends up as the title

How long did it take for you to get your debut title published?

At the age of 29 I wrote my first love story. A decade later, when I was 39, it become a novel and my debut work.

  • Writing:
How much of what you write about in your novels is based on personal experience and real situations?

It diverges and depends on the novel. But a significant proportion is drawn from personal experience.

I write fantastical novels so I just don’t plant facts as they are in my works. Instead I add dramatisation and replace experiences with episodes that float a few centimetres above actual reality.

However, I am personally someone who is extremely detached from common sense. Therefore, readers think most of what I write is novelised fantasy.

Where do you look for inspiration and how do you come up with plot ideas?

Often, many of my ideas come to me when I am running in the forest. When I look at stars, the moon or clouds. Or when I am listening to music I like.

Dreams and visions can also end up becoming novels.

I note down the plot ideas that come to me, and once these reach the point of saturation, a type of tipping point, I start writing.

In many cases the last scene comes first, and then I go back searching out the core of the plot.

Why do you write?

Because it’s necessary. Now, of today, I have a stock of several thousand unpublished manuscripts.

Even if no one asks, even if nobody reads them, I will still keep writing novels.

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.

What is your typical approach to writing?

I write and fill up a notebook with plot ideas, and then play around with the ideas turning them over in my head. Then ideas for different locations, like in films, come to mind.

I then decide on the camera angles, the sound track, building each episode one-by-one while actually acting them out.

Once this has been completed to a certain degree, it is only then that I actually start writing.

From 5.00 am until noon is my writing time. I repeat writing with running.

I feel as if I am a boxer-type author and also a peripatetic-type author, who keeps on running.

How long does it take you to write a novel or a short story?

A full-length novel takes about three months, a short story a couple of days to up to a week.

It has been said that it is fast for the type of intricate and complex prose I write.

The faster I write the less dense and more concentrated my sentences become. It feels somewhat like automated transcribing.

When you are working on multiple pieces how do you avoid getting confused and stay efficient and creative?

It’s impossible. I can’t write multiple works in parallel.

Multi-tasking is one of my biggest weaknesses, and it isn’t limited to writing.

I can’t cut and change my mood.

Do you have a favourite Japanese phrase, idiom or expression?

This isn’t avoiding the question, but Japanese has soft and beautiful spoken words that are unique to women.

This may only be understood by individuals deeply familiar with Japanese. I love the echoes of those words.

In contemporary Japan these words have been almost completely lost. Authors who reflect or seek reality no longer use such spoken words.

This is the language of my mother’s time. Even though I am told I am an anachronism, I continue to stubbornly write those words.

Where do you write? How do you make yourself comfortable when you write and how long is a typical writing session?

I write in a small study. Since I love plants, my study looks like a botanical garden. It makes me feel as if I am writing at the heart of a rainforest.

When I have written for ten minutes, I run around inside my home for five minutes, which probably makes me like a boxer. This is my style of writing.

Because of my hyper-activity I can’t stay still for long. By repeating this I think I probably write for about 6 or 7 hours a day.

How would you describe your writing style?

I am an author who writes about love. But I am also called a fantasy writer. I think this is because I write narratives that drift between reality and dreams.

I like stories that undo all boundaries. Dream and reality. Past and present. Me and you. And me and the world. As well as life and death. It is the shape of the world that I perceive.

Perhaps it is close to the group that is sometimes described as new wave fabulist authors. They often deal with the themes of life and loss.

Sometimes I think it’s romanticism and I am a romantic writer, who is 200 years old.

My prose uses many metaphors.

To convey to readers images and emotions that can’t be expressed with words multiple metaphors and symbols are required. Works like this are sometimes called poetic-novels. I also incorporate humour.

I am conscious of the rhythms of language and at times I try to write as if it was song.

Have you ever studied or taken a course in creative writing?

No, never. Not at all.

I am a totally new type of writer in Japan. I haven’t learnt from previous examples.

Or perhaps it is related to me being on the autism spectrum.

When I had my debut as a writer many commented that a new genre ‘The Takuji Ichikawa Genre’ was born.

That can be taken as either a good thing or a bad thing!

Do you prefer writing novels or short stories?

I have received many requests. But none have come to realisation.

I feel that my work is highly suitable as I write novels with film like imagery in a script-like manner.

But the problem is working in collaboration and partnership with others.

That’s the bottleneck.

What stops you from being able to write?

When I am ill.

As someone on the autistic spectrum I have various secondary disorders, which create problems.

For almost 40 years it has been a constant battle with illness.

  • Reading:
Do you still enjoy reading? And how often do you find time to read?

I still read books. There are times when I am reading continuously finishing off many books, and sometimes I might not read a single book in a month.

Which author and book has influenced you the most?

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007), John Irving, Michael Ondaatje, John Fowles (1926-2005), Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991) and others.

Who is your favourite fictional hero? And what do you like about them?

The venerable that appear in books and stories. Those held in contempt, outsiders who despite often being hurt still believe they are beautiful, and continue pursuing their goals, who live without seeking recognition or reward.

It is the lonely outsiders.

When you were a child did you have a favourite book?

世界SF名作集, World Collection of Famous SF Stories, and books by A. E. van Vogt (1912-2000), Edward Elmer Smith (1890-1965), Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), H.G. Wells (1866-1946).

I read them over and over, wearing out their pages.

If you ran your own book club or belonged to a reading group what books would it be reading right now?

The Refugee’s Daughter.

I want as many people as possible to understand what today’s world is like, and what ignorance and indifference is causing.

Do you have a favourite website?

National Geographic, Wired, Nikkei Science, AFPBB News.

  • Japan:
Why do you think short format writing from haiku to novella is common in Japan?

I think that more than mythical legends and majestic stories Japanese people prefer everyday tales about life on the street.

Why do you think international interest is growing in Japan?

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. Difference becomes attraction. It is a similar to the fine line between error and creativity that is said to have a gap comparable to the width of a single sheet of paper.

Thinking about it from the opposite perspective, Japanese people are also very interested in the West.

This is an interplay.

In many different fields including sports such as baseball, and football (soccer), as well as technology and research, Japanese people are building international reputations. What do you think Japanese authors can learn from this?

This probably depends on the author.

I am an extremely individualist writer, so I don’t think it has much influence on me.

Who do you think is the most interesting historical Japanese figure and the most interesting contemporary one?

Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933).

I am not sure if he is a historical figure, but regardless of that, I am very attracted to the worlds he envisioned.

Sakyo Komatsu (1931-2011).

When I first became a writer a journalist asked me if there were any famous authors I would like to meet. And I answered Sakyo Komatsu. When I was a child reading his science fiction novels was an obsession of mine.

Is the Japanese literary scene very close-knit and difficult to become part of?

Depending on your definition of the literary world or scene I think Japan is relatively open.

Remaining party to it is probably what is actually harder.

  • Interests:
What are your favourite films and why?

I like horror films. It does depend on the film, but I feel as a genre these films are close to the dreams I have.

The boundaries between life and death are vague. Reality is just a fragile cover.

If you look into them and break them down you see unending expanding strange worlds that can’t be depicted or expressed in words.

For those same reasons I like Andrei Tarkovsky (1932- 1986) and Lucile Hadzihalilovic.

For me, a film is a dream I wake up to.

Have you ever been in a film and if not would you be interested in being in one?


I think acting requires a lot of skill. That’s the sense I get.

What is your favourite type of music?

Damien Rice, Isbells Rhye, Lana Del Rey, and Sigur Ros are all on my play list.

Do you like karaoke and, if so, which song do you sing most frequently?

I have never been to karaoke, not once.

I sometimes sing and sometimes I sing old folk songs while playing the guitar.

Do you like anime and manga?

I don’t look at them now. But did like old manga and anime.

Anime by Hayao Miyazaki such as
Conan, The Boy in Future.

The number of times I have wanted to watch that vastly outnumbers the others. I have seen it tens of times on DVD over and over again.

Yoshimi Uchida’s
Colour of Sky, which falls within the genre known as Shojo Manga.

If you could chose to be a character in a book or film, who would it be?

Conan of Conan, The Boy in Future.

He is unnaturally healthy and strong. I am weak and long to be robust and healthy like him.

Do you have a favourite or special place you like to visit?

The botanical garden in my hometown. Many of my novels are set there.

What is your favourite thing to do on a day off or on holiday?

I like to do the same as I do at the weekends. A change in environment isn’t generally good for me physically.

It is important not to break the rhythm of my life.

I like going out to the forests and botanical gardens and connecting with greenery.

Who do you think is the most interesting historical international figure and the most interesting contemporary one?

Siddhartha Gautama.

People like me, who live in some corner of Asia, have mostly, without being aware of it, been hugely influenced by this one individual, who lived 2,500 years ago.

He is an
Influencer of extraordinary magnitude.

As for contemporary figures, it would be Masala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg.

I think it is young people, especially women that can save the world, which is so full of greed and hatred.

If you could choose anyone in the world (alive or dead) to discuss writing, creativity and storytelling with, who would you select?

William Shakespeare (1564-1616). I think many authors would probably think the same.

Are you a member of any clubs, organisations or associations?

No, none.

I am the single and only member of ‘The Committee to Increase the Total Sum of Kindness in the World’ and ‘Writers Without Borders’. That’s what I think and want to say, and what that means all depends on what happens from here.

Which Olympic sport do you, like best?

I used to be an 800 metres athlete, and I am interesting in all the athletics competitions. I often write novels about long distance runners.

  • Life:
Is there one person who has had a huge influence on you?

Without doubt my mother. I am a work, created by my mother.

What would be the hardest thing for you to give up in life?

My wife.

What has been your happiest moment in your life so far?

Every moment I am with my wife. It is the treasure of my life, and one that will carry me to heaven.

How do you cope and manage stress?

Contact with my wife. She is my shelter and life support machine.

After that it is running, touching green things, and writing novels.

Please tell us three good to know facts about you that aren’t widely known?

If I was ever considered as an internationally renowned writer I would hope and aim that my style would be within the middle of a triangle of Jeffrey Eugenides, John Michael McDonagh and Anthony Doerr.

Truth is Henry Darger, (1892-1973), who was famous for being an Outsider Artist and a recluse, is my literary hero. Sometimes I wonder if I should live as he did.

I lost that opportunity when I committed myself to being a writer of the world. There are, however, many things I have gained from that decision.

Compared to him, I have several thousand unpublished manuscripts, but I am being complacent as he wrote more than 20,000 pages of manuscripts during his life that nobody saw.

I am similar to him when I put my own illustrations in my manuscripts.

In his huge work
The Realms of the Unreal he describes seven warrior women who fight against a military state with forced child labour. I have also written a story, The Refugee’s Daughter about a young woman with special powers who tries to save the world from being destroyed.

I don’t feel as if we are that distinct or two different people.

When my second book,
Be With You, Ima Aini Yukimasu, was made into a hit film in Japan, Warner Brothers made an offer to remake the film.

At that time the publisher said that 5 million people were reading the book, not the number of copies sold but the readership. So this time let’s aim for 10 million people. I recall them saying that.

The opportunity flowed away. However, if it had been realised it really would have increased
the total sum of kindness in the world. It feels like a great shame.

I’m aiming to neutralise the world full of punishment with a tales about tolerance and kindness. Just as white lime neutralises oxidised land.

What is the one thing you always carry with you or in your bag?

Water. I am prone to a special type of seizure, and I need water to calm myself down if I have an attack.

What is the minimum amount of cash you like to have in your wallet when you go out?

Several hundred to several thousand yen. I often have to turn around at the till as I don’t carry much money with me. Perhaps in my mind the concept of money doesn’t exit.

  • Testimonials
“I felt it in my heart, and it shook my soul,” Kiyoshi Kodama, actor and former presenter of a popular Japanese television book review programme, commenting on Be With You.

“Ichikawa’s novels are about love and rebirth. The deceased, who are being morned by their loved ones, often return. This is how Ichikawa touches the hearts of his readers…If you look at his own life story, it also almost borders on the miraculous…,” Christine Izeki writing in behinderte menschen, an Austrian magazine.

“This book is all about the different forms of love, and the strength of spirit, that mankind possesses. It is romantic fiction at its very best, from the million selling author of Be with You,” Kanako Nishi, multi award-winning author (Naoki Prize etc) and artist, commenting on Say Hello to Him When the Time Comes.

“A kiss is sweeter when your wife comes back from the dead!…a story about how a dead wife suddenly reappears and joins her young son and husband for a short six weeks…the journey between widower and wife, that transcends fate, circumstances and mystery,” think.

“Reading this sent me into a trace. I discovered what love really is from this book,” Ryoko Hirosue, Japanese actress best known outside Japan for her roles in Departures and Wasabi, commenting on Love’s Photographs.

“A Korean remake of a contemporary Japanese classic covers much of the same ground, especially the bits that leave you in a weepy emotional puddle…Korea’s Lee Jang-Hoon is the third person to bring Takuji Ichikawa’s 2003 novel to the screen. Nobuhiro Doi’s Japanese version of the magical realist tale was released in 2004, and followed rapidly in 2005 by a 10-part series on Japan’s TBS….,” Richard Gray, Editor, thereelbits.com.
  • News & Media
“A tear-jerking Japanese novel are among our picks,” The South China Morning Post, June 2018
L’amour fantôme. Le Monde, July 2012
La nueva ola de la literatura Japonesa, La Vanguardia, August 2011
“Top five films to watch in Hong Kong this week (June 28-July 4), from Be with You…,” South China Morning Post, June 2018
Je reviendrai avec la pluie de Takuji Ichikawa, Critiques Libres, August 2012
Takuji Ichikawa Posted by Richard Nathan