My New Year’s resolution is to challenge Japanese picture books!   Not really so much for learning Japanese, but to familiarize myself with the classics and the beloved tomes of little Japanese children.

My first problem is that I don’t really and truly know what those are.  Yeah, I know Guri and Gura…but I have read that in English.  This is a CHALLENGE!!!!!!   A mountain I have never climbed, a river I’ve never swum.

There were many book lists, of course, that I could use, but I went with the most obvious.  It’s the book list that our local library hands out and was created by Fukushima librarians for elementary school first graders. A librarian told me that the books are those that appeal to kids.

Okay!  First book!

Let’s look at the cover together.  What do you think it is about?  How does it make you feel?


The book is called “Boku no kawaikunaii imouto.”  This is hard to translate for me.  Literally:  “My Little Sister who is Not Cute.”  But I think if I were really translating, I would call it something like “My Ugly Little Sister.”

Notice that the use of “Boku” means that we KNOW that the person narrating the book is a boy.  Boku is “I” but is only used by males.

(The book list is on the right, next to the picture book.)



Okay, opening the book, it is really confusing.  That’s the older (unhappy) brother on the left, obviously.  But on the right?  A sister?  A brother?

It’s a girl.  The name of the book is “My Little Sister who is Not Cute,” folks.  Yeah.  She’s not cute.

I know she is a girl based on clues like her feminine name (Maho), the pink in her room, her red back pack, and so on.  (Red backpacks are used only by girls in Japan.)

(I am NOT going to get into transgender issues on this blog.   That is something I know nothing about.  🙂



She likes this book, called, “My Cute Little Sister.”

Anyway, due to copyright issues, that’s all I am showing.  Use your imagination for the rest.  It’s a very typical sibling book, in that the brother detests his annoying sister but in the end comes to cherish her.   Ahhhhh…….

So what do you think?  Not what we think of when we think of Japanese lit, huh!?!  No geisha or ninja or samurai.   Just a couple of kids.

I like this book because there is a lot of pressure (all over the world, but especially in Japan, I think) for girls to be “cute”.   Nevertheless, there are quite a lot of girls who look like this little girl:  short hair, tomboyish.  (I was one of them.)  So yeah, it’s a good book.

Here is a link on

As far as Japanese goes, I think I learned two new words from this book.  I can’t decide what to do with them.  Write them down or not?  If I write them down, it becomes a part of the random mess that clutters my life.  Should I go on faith that I shall remember them?

(Except I have already forgotten them.  Oops!)