A Crazy and Incredible Japanese Story
“Japan Devil” by Takeshi Ito is the twelfth Japanese novel by author Takeshi Ito. The novel takes place in July, 2021 in the city of Kyoto. With a prosperous period in the previous year having been followed by economic slump and financial insecurity, Japan’s middle class has been hit by the economic downturn and many are looking outside of their traditional homelands for some job security. A young American, Michael Takatsuno, arrives in Japan after working for a year in the States and with his good looks and excellent skills is able to get a promotion and move into a more prestigious job which allows him to spend time with his family in Tokyo.
At this time, however, a fellow employee also moves into the city, an American named Takatsuno, who is also in search for a better life. Although initially they are allies, as circumstances unfold their complicated relationship develops and takes shape as they learn more about each other. Eventually Takatsuno discovers that his past had also been a lie and that he had been tricked into Japan by a devil called Kaburo. Now Takatsuno has to find a way to defeat the devil and free himself of his debts, while also finding love and friendship among the other characters in the story as well. The novel also chronicles the changing relationships of the main characters from simple friends to bitter enemies, as well as the internal struggles within the characters themselves.
In the story, Takatsuno meets another man, a freelance writer, Mitsu Okada. Mitsu had come to Japan to seek work as a translator and he and Takatsuno become best friends. Mitsu is an avid traveler and author, constantly searching for new lands and cultures to write about. The two soon realize that they have much in common as well, and when Mitsu’s daughter Mio arrives from America to live with her mother in Tokyo, they become interested in her and fall in love.
Unfortunately, the relationship is not quite perfect, as Mio has a half-interest in Okada’s family business which involves a lot of dangerous assignments for both men. This also forces Takatsuno to have to change his outlook on life and gives him time to consider his own wants and needs for a change. He also realizes that his job may be taking its toll on him and decides to pursue a degree so that he can change his destiny. But, because of Mitsu’s presence, it seems that he may lose his job again, which would force him to go back to Japan and live with Mio.
Soon, though, Takatsuno realises that it is important for him to be strong and to have courage if he ever wants to change his destiny. He returns to America and goes to college, studying English, in order to become a writer. While there, he also forms a new friendship with another man called Masane Taniyama. They soon fall in love and marry, setting up a home in New York City. However, Takatsuno’s world is shattered when his wife suddenly dies of a heart attack and his father deserts him. In an attempt to make him happy again, he goes back to Japan, enters a Buddhist monastery and becomes a monk.
Now, 24 years later, in 1997, Taniyama’s son suffers a massive injury in a play. This incident totally changes the lives of Takatsuno and his son, changing the course of their future too. While recovering in hospital, Takatsuno realises that he has no choice but to return to Japan and to continue working in his father’s company. He also realises that he needs to become a better leader for his company, since his father has been neglecting him and also failed to provide him with any support. With this, Takatsuno sets out on a journey to learn English, so that he is able to help other people and also to be a leader himself.