The Lantern of Lost Memories

A charming and heartwarming story for fans of cosy Japanese fiction

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Pub Date 22 Aug 2024 | Archive Date 22 Aug 2024

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One photograph, one treasured memory, one chance to go back . . .

In a cosy photography studio in the mountains between this world and the next, someone is waking up as if from a dream. A kind man will hand them a hot cup of tea and gently explain that, having reached the end of their life, they have one final task.

There is a stack of photos on their lap, one for every day of their life, and now they must choose the pictures that capture their most treasured memories, which will be placed in a beautiful lantern. Once completed, it will be set spinning, and their cherished moments will flash before their eyes, guiding them to another world.

But, like our most thumbed-over photographs, our favourite memories become faded with age, so each visitor to the studio has the chance to choose one day to return to and photograph afresh. Each has a treasured story to tell, from the old woman rebuilding a community in Tokyo after a disaster, to the flawed Yakuza man who remembers a time when he was kind, and a strong child who is fighting to survive.

Extraordinarily moving and wise, The Lantern of Lost Memories is a beautiful Japanese tale about the people that make us and the moments that change us.

One photograph, one treasured memory, one chance to go back . . .

In a cosy photography studio in the mountains between this world and the next, someone is waking up as if from a dream. A kind man...

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ISBN 9781035023622
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 48 members

Featured Reviews

When people die, they go to this magical photo studio where they view key moments from their life and get the opportunity to relive one precious memory before they pass on to the afterlife.

Props to Jesse Kirkwood on translating this beautiful book because he kills it with his translations - this is the second one that I’ve read by him and I really loved it. I was obsessed with the writing style and this will be a book that I will think about for a long time.

The atmosphere and setting was absolutely stunning - I felt like I was there with the characters experiencing their journey through the book. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters that are introduced and for such a short book, my god did it pack a punch!!

Our main man Hirasaka is an absolutely angel and I couldn’t think of a better character to guide others to the afterlife! I know if this was real life, I would want someone like Hirasaka to guide me to the afterlife. I really adored his character and the glimpse into his backstory. I also really loved the other characters that were introduced — Hatsue who was so lovely and touched so many people’s lives; Waniguchi who wasn’t all that bad; Mitsuru who was dealt such an awful hand in life but managed to turn it around; Yama who was a sweetheart, that delivers the files about each person who Hirasaka will be guiding to the afterlife.

There was some character flaws, a lot of development and how everything ties together is one of my favourite parts of this book. Their stories had me experiencing a range of emotions and ended in me crying uncontrollably. I love books that make me reflect on things, rip my heart out and then put it back together with hopefulness. Definitely recommend this one but please check content warnings first!

⚠️ CWs: animal cruelty/death, bullying, chronic illness, domestic abuse, death, drug use, emotional and physical abuse, suicide, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempt, abandonment, alcohol use, person with alcohol use disorder, murder, dementia, grief, mentions war, infertility, derogatory language, blood ⚠️

Thank you Picador and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book early, in exchange for a honest review.

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The Lantern of Lost Memories by Sanaka Hiiragi is a beautiful and heartwarming novel about the memories that pass before our eyes when we die. It reflects on life, loss, and the dearest memories we carry with us, even if some are quite blurry. The layer of coziness makes it an ideal read for those seeking a comforting escape. It was a delight to discover each character's journey and glimpse their special moments in life, and I absolutely loved how it all wrapped up so neatly and satisfyingly.

If you enjoyed Before the Coffee Gets Cold, you’ll find a similar charm and emotional depth in The Lantern of Lost Memories.

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The Lantern of Lost Memories by Sanaka Hiiragi gives an innovative perspective to life after death and the term “life flashing before your eyes” .

When you die, you are greeted by a friendly man called Hirasaka in a photography shop where you will choose 1 photo from each year you have lived and build a lantern that will help you pass on to the afterlife whatever that may mean.

This book is just gorgeous, the arc was recommended to me by macmillian because of my love for the before the coffee gets cold series and like that series the Lantern of Lost Memories is a book of intertwined short stories. The 3 stories shows how different people (an old lady, a yakuza member and I will leave the third one a surprise because it shook me to the core) navigate hearing they are dead and looking through their memories and telling Hirasaka stories of their lives.

This book was so easy to read, it had me crying every couple pages but once I got into the book I simply could not put it down. It is beautiful and has the power to give you a completely different outlook. It shows the good side of humanity and the bad side. It is yet another book that gives you a sense of closure (and we know how I love those).

I cannot recommend this book enough. The last story especially broke me and blew my mind at the same time.

Thank you to Net Galley and MacMillan for the arc of this book!

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This is a beautifully written book— full of unique and innovative ideas to talk about death— in this book of short stories we are taken through three peoples stories of where they visit a cosy photography studio in the mountains between this world and the next where they must choose the pictures from their life that capture their most treasured memories, which will be placed in a beautiful lantern which will be set spinning, and everything will flash before their eyes, guiding them to another world.

These stories were sentimental, emotionally moving and maintained your attention to the end of each persons story you can cozy up with and read all at once or a little bit at a time ( as each story is stand-alone). We experiences the magic of each persons story, an elderly lady, a yakuza , and a young child. The last story to me felt like a reimagining/mixture of true incidents that happened throughout Japan to children. Even with the heavy topics of aging, bullying, abuse etc the book maintains a whimsical /magical feel throughout keeping you in a dream like state while reminding us to reflect well on our lives as this book beautifully reflects on life, death, love and everything in-between.

Thank -you NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for this ARC. This is my honest review.

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Book Review: The Lantern of Lost Memories by Sanaka Hiiragi

**Rating: 5/5**

Sanaka Hiiragi's *The Lantern of Lost Memories* is a beautifully crafted tale that seamlessly blends the ethereal with the poignant. Set in a magical photography studio perched between this world and the next, the story offers a unique perspective on life, memory, and the afterlife.

The premise is enchanting: newly deceased individuals wake up in a cozy mountain studio, tasked with selecting photographs that capture their most treasured memories. These memories are then placed in a lantern that will guide them to their next destination. Hiiragi masterfully uses this framework to explore the depths of human experience through a series of vignettes, each focusing on a different character's life and their most cherished moments.

The characters are richly drawn and deeply relatable. From an elderly woman who finds strength in rebuilding her community after a disaster to a former Yakuza member who rediscovers his capacity for kindness, each story is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. The narrative flows effortlessly, with each character's journey providing a new layer of emotional depth.

Hiiragi's writing is both lyrical and evocative, capturing the essence of fleeting moments and the bittersweet nature of memory. The descriptions of the photography studio and the surrounding mountains are vivid and atmospheric, creating a setting that feels both otherworldly and intimately familiar.

One of the most compelling aspects of the book is its exploration of how memories shape our identities and the importance of preserving those moments that define us. The concept of revisiting a single day to rephotograph it anew adds a poignant twist, emphasizing the idea that our perceptions and memories can change over time.

*The Lantern of Lost Memories* is a hauntingly beautiful novel that will resonate with readers long after they've turned the last page. It is a celebration of life, love, and the moments that make us who we are. Hiiragi's storytelling is a gentle reminder of the power of memory and the enduring impact of our most cherished experiences.

Highly recommended for fans of literary fiction and those who enjoy stories that touch the heart and soul.

#TheLanternofLostMemories #NetGalley

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The Lantern of Lost Memories is the must-read for 2024, especially if you are looking for a thoughtful and heartwarming story.

Set in a space between life and death, three people visit a magical photography studio to choose photos from their lives to create a special lantern. Each story is really moving resulting in this being a beautiful and touching book.

I was drawn to this book as I loved the Before the Coffee Gets Cold series, I really hope that this is the start of series too!

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If you love Before the Coffee Gets Cold series, you must read this when it comes out in August! This is a wonderful collection of bittersweet episodes that reminds us to appreciate our past and lives we’ve had. It is sad at times, but there is warmth and tenderness just like the very popular series. I loved every episode in this book.

The premise is similar to TJ Klune’s Under the Whispering Doors. Set in somewhere between life and death, three people visit a photography studio where a kind man allows them to revisit their most treasured memories. Each person has a treasured story to tell, from the old woman rebuilding a community in Tokyo after a disaster, to the flawed Yakuza man who remembers a time when he was kind, and a strong child who is fighting to survive.

It didn’t make me sob but there are many parts where I felt emotional and was reminded to appreciate my own treasured moments. I hope it will have the same effect on you if you read it.

5 / 5 🌟

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A beautifully written and very moving story. Hirasaka's job is to act as a guide for the dead on the journey to the other side. He works in a photography studio and he helps the newly deceased to select one photograph from each year of their lives. These are then incorporated into a magic lantern and viewed just before leaving the studio. In addition, the recently deceased is allowed to choose a camera and to go back and revisit one day of their life so that they can retake a photograph of the choice.
Although the subject is death, this is a very upbeat and positive story. Each person's life is appreciated and goodness is highlighted. The ending was especially moving.
An original idea and highly recommended.

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A beautiful book with a warm narrative that will make you feel at ease with the taboo topic of death and the afterlife. ‘The lantern of lost memories’ is a novella by Sanaka Hiiragi about Hirasaka, his photography studio in the mountains, and his duty to help people adjust to passing aways and allowing them to relive their most cherished memories one last time before passing on in to the afterlife.

The story starts quickly with the first of three souls who have passed away. Hatsue is an elderly lady who has lived a full life without regrets, who speaks about rebuilding a community in Tokyo after a war. Unfortunately, Hatsue is the character to come across an issue that happens with much loved memories. The most viewed photographs fade over time because of this, and so Hirasaka is allowed to travel back to that time with the passed soul to get another copy of the photograph.

The sentimental atmosphere is soon abrupted due to the second visitor we come across in the book. A troubled member of Yakuza by the name of Waniguchi. Throughout his story we learn about his friends – especially the mouse – who in turn has a short story withing the story, somewhat different but in turn beautiful and fitting within the atmosphere the book surrounds us in.

Our final lost soul is a heartbreaking and also should come with a content warning. Young Mitsuru has arrived and is scared. Hirasaka is gentle and soft when it comes to explaining to the young girl that she is now dead. Due to her being such a young age, she doesn’t have many photos or memories. So Hirasaka takes the opportunity to take Mitsuru on a somewhat wilderness adventure. As she learns things along the way; how to start a fire but be safe about it, how to take photographs and lastly how to feel safe. Abruptly, as Hirasaka is developing the photos Mitsuru had taken, she begins to fade – meaning she is coming back to life.

We now wake up with her on a balcony, in a dog kennel with her leg tied, surrounded by rubbish, and abandoned properties. But with the faint memories of what she had learnt in the afterlife, she is able to get herself help; allowing her parents to get what they deserve – and also was she deserves – a chance at happiness.

This book has vivid descriptions of the landscapes which creates a tranquil vibe which coincides with the character development throughout the book.

I would love a sequel for this; based on more lost souls as well as more background on Hirasaka and how he ended up doing this in the first place. A wonderful book and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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Published 22 August 2024. If you are a fan of Before The Coffee Gets Cold, you will adore this one which takes the idea of your life flashing before our eyes when you die to an original level. When a person dies, Hirasaka is a gentle soul is waiting for them in his photographic studio to guide them to the afterlife. He sits with them, talks to them, feeds them and gives them one task. They are to choose one photograph from each year of their life, photographs that he will put into a magic lantern so that they can watch their life as they leave for the afterlife. But, if that one special photo that they want to include is damaged, is faded - no problem. Hirasaka takes them back to that specific time some that they can take the photograph again. There are three stories here, three people who die and who he stis with and guides and the stories they tell touch you - especially the final one. The stories are intertwined beautifully and Hirasaka's own story brings tears to your eyes. I read this in one day and loved it. Rounded up to 5*

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one of the best books i have ever read, hands down. it got me crying tears of joy. i was so touched i couldn’t contain how i felt. this is now one of my favourite books— a comfort book i will turn to again and again!!

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The Lantern of Lost Memories by Sanaka Hiiragi is a delightful little book, examining what happens to us, when we are in the liminal space, between life and death. When we are all we are, and all we’ve experienced, flashes before us.
To help us through this experience, is Mr Hirasaka. A kind and compassionate man, who helps to distill all those memories, into a succinct snapshot for each year.

The original Japanese language book was translated beautifully into English by Jesse Kirkwood. The words conveyed the quiet emotions perfectly.

Each little vignette made me a little emotional at times, especially the third and final poignant story. I felt there were subtle lessons through the pages, and the understanding of the echo of a person having an impact, long after they have passed, like ripples in a pool.
I found myself thinking of the pictures that would form my own life, which day I might like to revisit to re-take a treasured image.

I think anyone who enjoyed the charming quietness of When The Coffee Gets Cold and Sweet Bean Paste, as I did, will love The Lantern of Lost Memories. It is a beautiful and heart warming 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read for me.

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