If you are looking for a different view of Japan, i.e a deviation from the 'trendy weird' angle, check out this literary classic called Shame in Blood. Alright, some call it a classic, others do not. For the latter, this book was a constant reiteration of the same theme which in itself was outdated. More on that later; first, a synopsis of the book.
Shame in Blood is the story of an unlucky young man. Well, his bad luck is a matter of obsession for him and this thought influences his actions throughout his life. More specifically, he is ashamed because of his family and feels that this is a burden he must bear. His siblings have met unfortunate deaths; two killed themselves and the other two ran off with the family money. The main protagonist and his sister are the only two who remains where this particular sibling is shunned by men her age because she is blind.
As you can see, the young man has quite a bit on his mind. Sure, he meets a fine young woman, falls in love and they marry but their life is also far from happy. Money is tight, he ends up as a struggling writer and his wife supports both of them. Given his 'misgivings' about his family genes, he is wary of starting a family. Nonetheless, the wife ends up pregnant and for a while there, it looks like his old father might be cheering up with this news. And then tragedy strikes (or should I call it a series of tragedies) which shatters their dream.
This book is heavy reading and can be quite depressing especially when you consider the way the character accepts external inputs as the determining fact in his life. The novel itself consists of a series of short stories, most of which is about the young couple. It follows their life story, of how they met and traces the development of their life together. What is interesting is the way the author explores a person's connection to society and family via these tales. Furthermore, the portrayal of Japan is fascinating; this novel possibly covers an older generation and their view of life which seems to be a far cry of modern Japanese folk.