Fantasy, Mystery「かがみの孤城」(Kagami no Kojou)

かがみの孤城 Kagami no Kojou Cover Japanese Book Recommendations

Author: Mizuki Tsujimura
Genre: coming of age, drama, (light) fantasy, novel, award winning
Great for: Intermediate (JLPT N2)
Length: 554 pages
Amazon Japan: かがみの孤城

 

Japanese Synopsis (from Amazon Japan)

鏡の世界で謎を追う不登校児 大人と子どもの目が共存する救いの物語

大人である現在の自分と、子どもだったあの頃の自分の両方を、同時に、ここまで慰め、励ましてくれる小説なんてはじめてだ。辻村深月の新作『かがみの孤城』のことである。

中学一年生のこころは、ある出来事を機に学校へ行けなくなり、いつも家で過ごしている。ある日一人で家にいると、部屋の鏡が突然輝き始め、潜り抜けてみると、そこは城の中だった。集められたのはこころを含め、似た境遇にいるらしき中学生が七人。九時から十七時まで滞在が許されるその城で、彼らにはひとつの課題が出される。猶予は一年。戸惑いながらも七人は、少しずつ心を通い合わせていくのだが……。

 

English Synopsis (translated by JTalk Online)

Truants Chasing A Mystery in the Mirror World – A Story of Salvation for Both Children and Adults

“This novel began as a story that would comfort and encourage both myself when I was a child and myself as an adult now.” The latest novel from Mizuki Tsujimura, Kagami no Kojou.

Kokoro is a first-year middle school girl who spends all her time indoors, unable to go to school after a traumatic event. One day, when she’s home alone, her mirror starts to glow, and when she steps through she is transported to a castle inside. Seven middle school children, including Kokoro, are brought to the castle. All they have to do is solve a mystery, which they can only do while they are able to access the castle from 9AM to 5PM, for one year. Although confused the seven children slowly start to get to know each other but… [can they solve the mystery of the castle in the mirror?]

 

Why You Should Read かがみの孤城 (Kagami no Kojou)

Mizuki Tsujimura is a prolific Japanese author having won multiple awards for her novels, including the top prize for the 15th Japan Booksellers’ Award (第15回本屋大賞受賞) in 2018 for Kagami no Kojou.

After reading Kagami no Kojou I can see why! Character interactions and emotions feel realistic: I found myself easily empathizing with the frustration, anger, and confusion of, not just the protagonist Kokoro, but all of the characters.

The story is a hard one to explain and is worth experiencing yourself, but to give a general idea it’s a coming-of-age with a fantasy twist. The narration mostly follows Kokoro in the third person, which I found to be a refreshing change from most Japanese novels which seem to be written in the third person. It’s a beautifully written story with an engaging plot that keeps you hooked.

One think people might struggle with (especially if they haven’t read a lot of novels) is that this book is 554 pages long. Considering light novels are about 200 pages and regular novels are about 300, this is a pretty long novel.

However, with the clear Japanese, large fonts and smooth flow of text you’ll probably find yourself reading more than you thought you were able to. I know I struggled to finish simply because I didn’t want to stop reading!

 

Why Japanese Learners Should Read かがみの孤城 (Kagami no Kojou)

Although a fantasy, this novel is based in reality, which means there are many phrases and terminology you’re likely to come across in real life.

On the other hand, as this is a beautifully written piece of literature, the author uses a number of flowery phrases too. I found that the majority of the more advanced flowery language had furigana and it was just a matter of looking up the meanings of these terms (which are listed below). Most of the grammar used also seemed to be around JLPT N2 level.

As this is such a long novel with more advanced vocabulary and grammar, I would not recommend this to anyone under JLPT N2 level of Japanese. (Unless you really enjoy light fantasy and want a challenge to read a long book.) The story is aimed at Japanese middle school children to adults, after all.

Saying that, at least you only have to worry about a few names as most of the characters names use hiragana and katakana. There are probably about three or four characters who’s referred to using their kanji but the readings are only mentioned once, so I recommend making a note of these!

 

Summary

This is a fantastic book that I recommend to every Japanese learner.

If you are interested but are unsure if you’re at the right level I suggest reading the first few pages via BookWalker Japan.

Also, Check out this great review by 文学YouTuberベル!

 

Useful Vocabulary

You can also study this vocabulary here on Memrise!

こじょう solitary castle 孤城
うらやましい envious 羨ましい
えんじ rouge, lipstick 臙脂
けんばんがっき keyboard instrument 鍵盤楽器
じゅうたん carpet 絨緞
しょくだい candlestick 燭台
そうかい refreshing, exhilarating 爽快
そぶり behavior 素振り
たたずまい appearance, shape 佇まい
いっぽんぢょうし monotone 一本調子
かいきん perfect attendance 皆勤
かいきんしょう perfect attendance award 皆勤賞
ひなん blame, criticism 批難
かっちゅう armor and helmet 甲冑
はくせい stuffing; stuffed animal はく製
ほうふつ close resemblance ほうふつ
かんばしい fragrant, aromatic 芳しい・香しい
みえをはる to show off 見栄を張る
どぎもをぬく to scare someone out of wits 度肝を抜く
みじん particle, atom 微塵
しょせん after all 所詮
なじむ to fit in, become familiar with 馴染む
とおぼえ howling 遠吠え
さばさば candid
そろう to all be present 揃う
とっさ (in an) instant 咄嗟
ごしゅうしょうさま my condolences ご愁傷様
ずけずけ bluntly
けんせい (to) restrain, constraint 牽制
ものおじ cowardice 物怖じ
ちっそく (to) suffocate, choke 窒息
めんえき immunity 免疫
ずぶとい bold, shameless 図太い
せんりつ shudder, shiver 戦慄
まばゆい dazzling 眩い
いびつ crooked, irregular
むとんちゃく indifferent 無頓着
なだめる to soothe, calm 宥める
ゆうべん eloquence 雄弁
かなしばり be paralyzed, bind hands and feet 金縛り
かたずをのむ to hold one’s breath 固唾を飲む
たんかをきる to speak sharply 啖呵を切る
うずく to throb, ache 疼く
といき sign 吐息
もらす to let leak 洩らす
ゆかにみずをたらす to spill water on the floor 床に水を垂らす
なごりおしい regret (in parting) 名残惜しい
かんぷく admiration 感服
かたひじ shoulder and elbow 肩肘
しみる to pierce 染みる
たゆたう to sway to and from 猶予う・揺蕩う
そうぜつ grand, heroic 壮絶
いんけん tricky, treacherous 陰険
はつらつ lively, vigorous 溌剌
しんぼう patience, endurance 辛抱
とうた (natural) selection 淘汰
いらだつ to be irritated 苛立つ
はばかる to hesitate, afraid of what others think 憚る
かれつ severe, stern 苛烈
しんらつ bitter, sharp 辛辣
おとなびる to become grown up 大人びる
こびる to flatter, curry favor 媚びる
りんかく outlines, contours, features 輪郭
おたけび roar, war cry 雄叫び
よくそう bathtub 浴槽
ぜんしょ (to) handle carefully 善処

Check out other recommendations here!

 

0 Shares
Bookmark the permalink.