What makes me pick this book out of so many interesting books in the library is the summary written on the back cover

Middle-aged, jaded and divorced, TV scriptwriter Harada returns one night to Asakusa, the old dilapidated downtown district of Tokyo where he grew up. There, at the theater, he meets a likable man who looks exactly like his long-dead father. And so begins Harada’s ordeal, as he’s trust into a reality where his parents appear to be alive at the exact age they had been when they died so many years before

Yes, it is a ghost story … but … don’t expect to find scary looking ghosts in this book!! Taichi Yamada had successfully made a ghost story with a lot of heart in it

The Story

Hideo Harada lived in an apartment near a busy Route 8, most people used that building as an office. There are only 2 tenants that used it as a place to live. Harada and a woman named Kei. After hearing a bad news about his ex-wife relationship with his favorite co-work, Harada was drawn into his birthplace, Asakusa. He met a man in his thirties who looked exactly like his father, and when that man took him to his house Harada met his wife who looked exactly like his mother. It puzzled him because his parents passed away when he was 12 years, but in spite of that, he kept returning to the house of that couple. He soon found out that they were really his dead parents.

Meanwhile, back in his apartment, he found love in the arm of a beautiful woman named Kei. Kei had a bad burn mark on her chest, but that didn’t stop Harada for falling for her. One day, someone told Harada that he looked pale and thin. Kei also said the same thing. His condition become worst although every time he looked into the mirror he didn’t see it, he only saw his healthy figure. Kei prayed in his ear so that he could see his true self and stopped seeing his parents. Kei believed his changes happen because of his meeting with beings from another world.

What happens next is something you have to read for yourself!!

I have to admit that the book is not like what I imagined it to be, I was expecting it to be a full haunting blood chill kinda story…but I wouldn’t say that I don’t like it, in fact I really like it. The story is well-written and like most Japanese novels I had read so far, Strangers (originally titled Ijin-tachi to no Natsu or Summer With Strangers) is closed with great ending. I really like the realization that hits him in the end of his journey. And the ending gives something for us to think…what is actually in the mind of that ghost? And the ending is also quite chilling.

I also like the way Harada is portrayed to be a 49 years old man who turns into 12 years old boy every time he meets his ghost-parents who are actually younger than he is (his parents are still in their thirties, the age when they died). I like how the story turns from a boring life of a divorced man to a complicated supernatural life.

This is a spoiler!! If you already read the book, I was wondering, do you think the same as I am?

I think Kei doesn’t really want to take revenge on Harada, the way I see it, Kei acted that way because she wants Harada to forget about her easier. Harada did said that he didn’t care what will happen to him and he wanted to be with her and I think that words made Kei said those awful things, she wanted Harada to forget about living with a ghost like her.

I rated this book 3 out of 5 (I liked it)


This book served as my last entry for Japanese Literature Challenge 3 (My 1st post) and my 1st entry for Thriller and Suspense Challenge 2010 , The 2010 Support Your Library Reading Challenge and New Author Challenge 2010.


  1. Uh-oh. Now I might need to reread Strangers… It’s been a while and I can’t answer your question. I remember Kei was ‘bad news’.

    Strangers is one of my favs, it even made me cry a little. I picked it up because of a rrecommendation of my favourite author David Mitchell.

  2. I read this book just last year, but didn’t quite like it. The ending just made me cringe, because it felt so cheap, like a B-grade horror story (that is not scary). To answer your question, I think Kei just wanted to make a point (be nicer to those around you because they may really need it?)

    1. I agree on the part of not scary…that’s why I only rate it 3 out of 5.
      It’s the kind of book that I like but I won’t re-read it.
      Thanks for sharing your thought on Kei 🙂

  3. After reading your review I thought I would really want to read it, then I read the comments. It is interesting how everybody reacts in a different way to it. I will have to keep it in my mind.

    1. I should remind you that this is a good book, not a great one…so, don’t expect to high.
      I saw his other book the last time I visited the library, I will probably read it next year

      1. It doesn’t always have to be great. I realized I have the book by David Mitchell that gnoegnoe mentions, Ghostwritten. I should read it. It is a novel in 9 stories, that go around the world from Japan to Hong Kong, Mongolia, St. Petersburg, London… Maybe you would like it too.

  4. I found this book enjoyable but I thought some of it also was pandering to the author’s feeling he had to include sex scenes to sell the book-I thought it was an effective ghost story and am glad I read it-I enjoyed your post a lot

    1. I also enjoy this book. Hmm…I couldn’t remember the sex scene anymore, I guess it wasn’t something he try to emphasize.
      Thank you for reading my review Mel-U,it reminds me that I haven’t been to your blog lately 😦

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