Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Tsukiko is drinking alone in her local sake bar when by chance she meets one of her old high school teachers and, unable to remember his name, she falls back into her old habit of calling him ‘Sensei’. After this first encounter, Tsukiko and Sensei continue to meet. Together, they share edamame beans, bottles of cold beer, and a trip to the mountains to eat wild mushrooms. As their friendship deepens, Tsukiko comes to realize that the solace she has found with Sensei might be something more.

Strange Weather in Tokyo is the first novel I’ve read by Hiromi Kawakami, and I absolutely loved it! This book has such beautiful moments that I couldn’t get enough of. It has a bittersweet feel to it, but it’s a really lovely story.

Tsukiko is thirty-eight years old. She works in an office and comes home alone. She doesn’t have anyone close to her, not connecting with friends or family. One evening, she runs into her old high school teacher at a local bar. She calls him Sensei, and the two grow closer, reflecting on their lives and creating new memories together.

Tsukiko and Sensei at first rarely make plans together. They kind of fall into doing things when they run into each other, but eventually a kind of pattern and routine forms. This isn’t to say that their friendship is easy, and I actually really loved how realistic this friendship is. It’s filled with strife and long periods of not speaking when they grate on each other’s nerves. This isn’t a story with instant friendship or instant romance, it reflects on the beauty and difficulty in working to maintain a friendship with someone. And this story also shows the power of friendship especially after long periods of loneliness. Tsukiko and Sensei both didn’t have anyone special in their lives, and in a way, I think they grew used to being alone, not realizing how important it is to depend on someone else when you can.

“I wondered where he was, on a night like this. It made me realize that I had never called Sensei on the telephone. We always met by chance, then we’d happen to go for a walk together. Or I would show up at his house, and we’d end up drinking together. Sometimes a month would go by without speaking or seeing each other. In the past, if I didn’t hear from a boyfriend or if we didn’t have a date for a month, I’d be seized with worry. I’d wonder if, during that time, he’d completely vanished from my life, or become a stranger to me.
Sensei and I didn’t see each other very often. It stands to reason, since we weren’t a couple. Yet even when we were apart, Sensei never seemed far away. Sensei would always be Sensei. On a night like this, I knew he was out there somewhere.”

-Strange Weather in Tokyo

From mushroom hunting to eating yudofo at the local bar, Tsukiko and Sensei begin a journey that is a beautiful friendship and romance. Despite the difference in their ages, their love for each other becomes unmistakable as the story carries on. I loved the feel of this book- cozy, sad, lovely, and bittersweet. I felt as if I walked alongside Tsukiko and Sensei as they lived their lives and found each other when they both needed it most.

“But had I really enjoyed living life on my own until now?
Joyful. Painful. Pleasant. Sweet. Bitter. Sour. Ticklish. Itchy. Cold. Hot. Lukewarm.
Just what kind of life had I lived? I wondered.”

-Strange Weather in Tokyo

While this was my first novel by Hiromi Kawakami, it definitely won’t be my last. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work and seeing where her books take me next.

2 thoughts on “Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: