top of page
Takaoka's Travels

Takaoka's Travels

Winner of the Yomiuri Prize and recipient of the 2022-23 William F. Sibley Memorial Subvention Award for Japanese Translation.

Introducing Tatsuhiko Shibusawa—Japan’s Italo Calvino—in this fantastical tale of a Japanese prince who encounters both beauty and danger on a pilgrimage to India.

A fantasy set in the ninth century, Takaoka’s Travels recounts the adventures of a Japanese prince-turned-monk on a pilgrimage to India. As Prince Takaoka and his companions pass through faraway lands, the rules of the ordinary world are upended, and they find curiosities and miracles wherever they go. 

The travelers encounter strange creatures--a white ape who guards a harem of bird-women, beasts who feed on dreams, a dog-headed man who can see hundreds of years into the future. On the high seas, their ship is boarded by ghostly pirates and driven back by supernatural winds, and still they push on. 

At every turn, Prince Takaoka is drawn to the beauty around him, whether it takes the form of a perfectly shaped pearl or a giant blood-red flower, but such beauty proves to be extremely dangerous. Seductive and mysterious, offering high adventure yet deeply human, this is a novel that transcends all expectations.

With an afterword by translator David Boyd.









Literary Fiction






8.5 x 5.5"












"In the ninth century, a Japanese prince-turned-monk sets off with companions on a journey to Hindustan (India), the center of Buddhism. . . . An arresting novel that readers will cherish."

David Keymer, Library Journal Starred Review

"A rich novel unlike almost anything else available in English translation from Japanese."

Alison Fincher, Asian Review of Books

"A lush and fabulous journey into the unknown with impossible creatures, fantastic dream worlds, and things that

seem to echo events long past."

Regina Schroder, Booklist 

"A romp across Asia that’s both bawdy and spiritual."

Thu-Huong Ha, The Japan Times

"A fantastical allegorical novel that traverses a man’s dreams in the name of Buddhist devotion."

Aleena Ortiz, Foreword Reviews

"Boyd’s skilled translation brings the story of dream, memory, and drifting between strange lands to contemporary readers in English."

Richard Medhurst,

“The premodern world’s porous sense of boundaries, unplaceable beings, and spiritual iconoclasts offer an especially fertile site for experimentation in ways to talk about sex, gender, and sexuality.”

Nathaniel Gallant, Tricycle

"Provocative, funny, absurd and, in its way, beautiful."

Ian Mond, Locus Magazine

"With a deft translation by David Boyd, Takaoka’s Travels is a fun adventure story by a 9th century Showa-era master filled with amazing and imaginative creatures from Japanese mythology."

DC Palter, Japonica Publication

"An exotic supernatural journey in search of nirvana that comes alive under the hands of translator David Boyd." 

Walter Sims, The Straits Times

" A neatly imagined quest tale, focused on the journey rather than the idealized but out of reach (physical) destination, Takaoka's Travels is an appealing mix of the historical and the fantastical."

M.A.Orthofer, The Complete Review

"A joy from start to finish as we bounce from adventure to adventure, the tales getting taller by the minute."

Tony's Reading List

"A journey fraught with the pitfalls and discoveries of wondrous creatures worthy of a perfect fantasy tale.”

Salome Lelievre, Actusf

“A work of magic and science, of literature swallowed and rendered in the form of dreams and pearls, a magnificent journey to the west – from which one never returns.”

Jean-Paul Brighelli, Marianne

“Like a hallucinatory journey populated by mythical figures and confusing landscapes, with the certainty that one must follow one's deep desire. […] A promising start to the journey to Shibusawa.”

Frédérique Roussel, Liberation

“I love Takaoka’s Travels so much that my novel The Third Love features a character inspired by Shibusawa’s hero, Prince Takaoka. With the publication of this translation, readers around the world will be able to enjoy this marvelous book!” 

Hiromi Kawakami, author of Strange Weather in Tokyo and Dragon Palace

Takaoka's Travels will somehow remind you, simultaneously and impossibly, of a hundred books you’ve loved and nothing you’ve ever read. The plot moves in eddies, playfully forgetting and then remembering itself. . . . It’s rare to read a book and feel not only that you don't know where it’s taking you but, over and over again, that you don't know where it took you, and I can't stop thinking about the experience.” 

Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Ghost Variations


Book Photos

Retail Outlets

Books sold at

Barnes & Noble

E-Books sold at


Audiobooks sold at

About the Author(s)

Tatsuhiko Shibusawa

Tatsuhiko Shibusawa

Tatsuhiko Shibusawa (1928-1987) was an author and prolific translator of French literature, known for his translations of the Marquis de Sade and the French surrealists.

David Boyd

David Boyd

David Boyd is a translator and assistant professor of Japanese at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. 

bottom of page