(The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)
by 筒井 康隆 (Yasutaka Tsutsui)
Author: 筒井 康隆 (Yasutaka Tsutsui)
Genre: Sci-fi, high school, short story
Great for: Intermediate (JLPT N3)
Length: 115 pages (238 total for two short stories including 時をかける少女)
English Summary (Translation by Japanese Talk Online)
A glass breaks in the empty science room after school. A sweet aroma rises from the liquid inside the broken beaker. I know this scent… Kazuko Yoshiyama thinks the moment before she loses consciousness. When she awakens she finds herself caught up in strange instances where she’s able to rewind time and memories. A story of a young girl’s experiences of a strange world and her bitter sweet emotions. An eternal story that strikes the hearts of its readers and transcends time, to be passed on to the future.
Why You Should Read 時をかける少女 (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)
There are a few things you should be aware of before reading 時をかける少女. First is that this is a short story. In Japanese it comes to 100 pages. The novelization will normally come with another short story or two by Yasutaka Tsutsui, but which one depends on the publication. (The short story that came with mine was 悪夢の真相 and 果たしてなき多元宇宙.)
The second thing is that this was a story that was originally released in seven parts in a sci-fi magazine for middle schoolers between 1965-1966. Which means the original story was a sci-fi mystery for middle-grade readers to be read in installments over the course of a year. This means the story itself, when read in one go, is not very deep or engaging. And if you’ve watched any of the anime or live action movie adaptations, you already know what the twist is.
時をかける少女 was an incredibly influential story in Japan though. As it was released in the 60s then received many, many adaptations over the decades, it’s a story that became a large part of Japanese people’s childhood. Similar to how the 2006 anime movie impacted many anime fans in the West when it first game out.
We are somewhat spoiled now to have so much amazing sci-fi and mystery that reading 時をかける少女 now is a little…disappointing. However, it’s a very short story and honestly fantastic Japanese practice for intermediate level readers.
Why Japanese Learners Should Read 時をかける少女 (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)
If you have never read a novel in Japanese before, or not read many, and want to dip your toe into something easy, then 時をかける少女 is the book for you!
This book is fantastic for JLPT N3 level grammar, vocabulary, and kanji, with a spattering of JLPT N2 vocabulary and kanji.
It is (as I mentioned) written for Japanese middle grade readers. There is a lot of daily Japanese and regular conversations. There is one section at the end where the difficulty level rises, but it’s a great way to expose you to more difficult vocabulary in an easy to understand context.
As the story was originally written in the 1960s there’s some vocabulary I don’t see much anymore, but you will probably still learn in textbooks (and they’re good to know.)
Although not the most exciting story in the world, I think this is a great book for lower-intermediate level Japanese learners.
At only 100 pages it’s an easy, relatively quick read. Even if you’re only able to read a few pages a day you can finished the whole story in no time at all.
And if you want to, you’ll probably have a second short story to enjoy after!
Highly recommended for Japanese practice! You can read an official sample on Bookwalker here!
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