Free Japanese literature limited-edition ebook: “Fireworks of the Day” by Masao Yamakawa.

By | March 8, 2022

Update: this book is no longer available for download, but this story has been published in this book.

I spend much of my time on searching for little gems of Japanese literature, especially classic authors that I feel have something special about them, and it’s satisfying to take such discoveries and publish English versions of the stories so more people can appreciate them.

But the tradeoff with unearthing authors mostly unknown to the West is that it can be hard to drum up interest. Marketing efforts help a little, but authors nobody has heard of generally don’t sell as well as those who already have a strong presence in Western readers’ minds.

Recently I learned about Masao Yamakawa (山川 方夫), an author from the middle of the 20th century who doesn’t seem to have much popularity in the West (very few of his works have been translated into English). This is despite a much higher level of popularity in Japan, at least to the degree that some of his stories are listed in elementary-school Japanese textbooks and considered to be classics.

Popularity aside, I personally found several of Yamakawa’s stories to be very compelling and enjoyable, and could really associate with his sensibilities––especially the raw, bitterly-realistic conversations between the characters in a few stories (which remind me of Hayashi Fumiko’s works).

Last year I made available a limited-edition ebook of “The Gift of Loneliness” (一人ぼっちのプレゼント), a tale of a couple struggling with a devastating loss. Because of the interest in that story, I decided to translate and publish an e-book of another story “Fireworks of the Day” (昼の花火), a poignant tale about two young adults at a baseball game who are moving on to new stages in their lives. While I am not a huge baseball fan, I really liked how the game served as a backdrop to the story.

Besides making this a gift to lovers of Japanese literature, I am hoping to get some feedback on this story, especially in terms of whether you would like to read more by this author. You can comment on this page, or email us directly at arigataibooks [at] gmail.com. You can also email if you have any issues with the ebook files, and one of the reasons for the project is to experiment with how I can easily deliver ebook files from this site.

I am planning making this download available for only a week, so if you are interested please get it while you can.

I haven’t figured out the exact timing, but depending on the interest of this story I may publish a longer ebook on Amazon including this story and a few others by the same author. 

But for the time being if you want more to read in a similar vein, I would suggest checking out our paperback release of stories by Hayashi Fumiko here, or if you prefer ebooks check out this series. (You can see this page for our full list of books.)

I want to thank Jim Miles (of Annotranslate) for being a beta reader, and Kaimai Mizuhiro (his web site is here, and books are here) for helping to confirm the meaning of the Japanese text in a few places.

Here is a quick teaser from near the beginning of the story if you are debating whether to download the file or not:

Above her head towers the shoulders of numerous spectators, lined up diagonally with each face set in the same expression of excitement, each pair of eyes following the path of the ball in the field below. Further up is the great blue sky, beating down upon the sloping face-filled bleachers.

The sun nears the top of the sky.

The woman also looks up at the sky, as if beckoned by something. Her lipstick glows an unnaturally vivid hue in the sunlight.

As the man watches, he is suddenly struck by the beauty of the line from her chin down to her neck. Like a flash of lightning, it evokes an image of her from his memory.

Download links:

Download ebook (EPub file)

Download ebook (MOBI file)

If you click on either link, you be given the option to export/save the file on your local device. Also, depending on the device you are on, you may be given a visual preview of the book. You can read the entire book that way, but generally you will get a better experience by saving the file and opening it in a proper ebook reader.

Note: How you will view the file depends on your device, but here is an example set of steps if you have an iPad or iPhone:

  1. Click on the “MOBI” link
  2. Click “Export” on the bottom
  3. Click “Kindle” app on the list of apps that appears (it has an icon of a person sitting down in front of a blue background). This will export the book into the Kindle app.
  4. You will see the “Send to Kindle” screen. Click “Send”. (Note: If it has a blank author field you may need to enter in something there first. You can put in “Masao Yamakawa”, or anything you like.)
  5. Open the Kindle app where you can read the book as normal.

You can also use the EPub file in the Apple iBooks app, but I prefer how it looks on the Kindle app. On desktops, you should be able to use these files to view the book in apps such as the Kindle app.

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