Mina's Matchbox

Mina's Matchbox


A story of friendship and family secrets in 1970s Japan, from the prizewinning author of The Memory Police.

After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Tomoko is sent to live for a year with her uncle in the coastal town of Ashiya. It is a year which will change her life.

The 1970s are bringing changes to Japan and her uncle's magnificent colonial mansion opens up a new and unfamiliar world for Tomoko; its sprawling gardens are even home to a pygmy hippo the family keeps as a pet. Tomoko finds her relatives equally exotic and beguiling and her growing friendship with her cousin Mina draws her into an intoxicating world full of secret crushes and elaborate storytelling.

As the two girls share confidences their eyes are opened to the complications of the adult world. Tomoko’s understanding of her uncle’s mysterious absences, her grandmother’s wartime experiences and her aunt’s unhappiness will all come into clearer focus as she and Mina build an enduring bond. Rich with the magic and mystery of youth, Mina’s Matchbox is an evocative snapshot of a moment frozen in time, and a striking depiction of a family on the edge of collapse.


  • Yoko Ogawa is a quiet wizard, casting her words like a spell, conjuring a world of curiosity and enchantment, secrets and loss. I read Mina’s Matchbox like a besotted child, enraptured, never wanting it to end.
    Ruth Ozeki, author of The Book of Form and Emptiness

About the author

Yoko Ogawa

Yoko Ogawa has won every major Japanese literary award. Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, A Public Space and Zoetrope. Her works include The Diving Pool, The Housekeeper and the Professor, Hotel Iris and Revenge. Her most recent novel, The Memory Police, was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize.
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