Go Away With … Kanae Minato


By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
October 14, 2014

A former home economics teacher, Kanae Minato rocked Japan’s literary world with her 2008 debut novel, “Confessions.” A movie adaptation of the psychological thriller was selected as Japan’s entry for the best foreign language film at the 2010 Academy Awards. This past summer, the book was released in English.

An avid traveler, Minato says that some of her trips make their way into her writing. “When I was in college, I took a bike trip all over Hokkaido (Japan’s furthest north prefecture) by myself, says Minato, who resides in the Hyogo Prefecture on Japan’s Awaji Island. “That trip plays a role in my new novel, ‘Mame no Ue de Nemuru’ (which translates into ‘Sleep on Beans’), which was published this past spring in Japan.”

To read an excerpt of “Confessions” ( Mulholland Books, $15), visit http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/. This interview was conducted with translation assistance from Stephen Snyder, Kawashima Prof. of Japanese Studies at Middlebury College.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Tongariro National Park in the central North Island of New Zealand.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child.

A. It was when I was in elementary school. I went on a school trip to Yamaguchi Prefecture, which is in the southwest of the main island of Honshu in Japan. We went to Akiyoshidai Safari Land, a large animal theme park, and to a cave with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. We had a wonderful time. It was also my favorite trip as a child.

Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?

A. When I was in college, I took a bike trip all over Hokkaido by myself. Hokkaido is both an island and Japan’s furthest north prefecture. That trip plays a role in my new novel, “Mame no Ue de Nemuru” (豆の上で眠る) [roughly translated Sleep on Beans], which was published this past spring in Japan.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. I often like to go to Kobe to shop, which is near where I live. Another favorite place I like to travel to is Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. This is also nearby, so I try to go with my family quite often.

Q. What are some of your favorite cities?

A. Nuku’alofa in the Kingdom of Tonga, Queenstown in New Zealand, Singapore, Hawaii and Hokkaido in Japan.

Q. What would be your dream trip?

A. I would love to take a year-long trip around the world where I could cycle, climb mountains and occasionally go scuba diving. I did these things as much as I could when I was younger and would love to have the time and opportunity to do them again.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. A sushi restaurant on Awaji Island called Nobu.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. My happiest vacation memories are of trips when I have been able to meet lots of new and interesting people, such as my trip to Nuku’alofa in the Kingdom of Tonga. My least pleasant vacation memories are of trips when it rained much of the time. I much prefer sunny weather so I can be outdoors.

Q. What is the most important thing you have learned from your travels?

A. One of the most important things is the realization of my own insignificance. My travels have helped me reach the awareness that I am just one more insignificant human being in this world.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you are on the road?

A. I love to read short detective fiction.

Q. Where is the most romantic destination?

A. The most romantic place for me is the Philosopher’s Walk or Tetsugaku-no-michi in Kyoto during cherry blossom season in the spring. The Philosopher’s Walk is a walking path lined with beautiful cherry blossom trees.

Q. What is your favorite family destination?

A. With my family, I would like to go to a place where we could see a good and unique show. I would love to go with them to Las Vegas, Nevada.


© 2014 JAE-HA KIM


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