How Do You Live? (novel)

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How Do You Live?
How Do You Live?.jpg
AuthorYoshino Genzaburō
Original title君たちはどう生きるか
Set inSenior High School at Otsuka
Publication date

How Do You Live? (Japanese: 君たちはどう生きるか, Hepburn: Kimi-tachi wa Dō Ikiru ka) is a 1937 novel by Yoshino Genzaburō. It follows a 15 year old boy named Junichi Honda, nicknamed Koperu, and his uncle as the youth deals with spiritual growth, poverty, and the overall experience as human beings.[2][3] An anime film inspired by the novel is currently in production by Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki.[4][5][6]


Yūzō Yamamoto originally wrote the novel as one of the final publications in the serial Nihon Shosan Bunko Bunko. However, he was unable to complete it due to a strong illness. Genzaburō Yoshino took over and completed How Do You Live?' in a book form and published the book in 1937.[7]

After the conclusion of World War II, the book underwent several changes such as vocabulary and was republished in 1945 by Mira-sha Publishers.[8]

How Do You Live? is a popular work of literature in classical arts education and is often considered as a part of children's literature.[9]


Junichi Honda is a 2nd year (15 years old) junior high school student who is known by his nickname Koperu, which was named after the astronomer Nicholas Copernicus. He has excellent academic and athletic achievements, and possesses a fair degree of popularity. His father is a bank executive until his death, and his mother is a maid. After his father's death, Koperu moves to his uncle's house. There are many children of businessmen, university professors, and doctors in classmates, and topics of classes extend to ski areas, cinemas, Ginza, and summer resorts. Koperu experiences and observes various events in school life with friends. Following each chapter, the uncle who told the story of the day talked about themes such as "view of things", "structure of society", "relation", etc. in the style of a note written to Koperu.[10]

Like Copernicus, think that our Earth is moving within it as one of the celestial bodies in the broad universe, or think that our Earth is sitting all the way into the center of the universe. In fact, these two ideas are not all about astronomy. Even when thinking about the world and life, it will end up as usual.

— About view of things (Uncle's note)

In the end, Koperu writes a decision on his future way of living as a reply to his uncle, and the novel ends with the narrator asking the question "how do you live?" to the reader.


  • Koperu – A 15 year old boy who lives with his uncle. His father died and his mother is a maid.


This book is one of the "Nihon Shosan Bunko" series that intended to convey knowledge and ideas of free and progressive culture to school children in Japan. However, many of the works were discouraged by the rise of Japanese militarism in 1930s.[8]

Political scientist Masao Maruyama praised the composition that a child, Koperu, observes the reality and draws the process of drawing naturally the process of discovering various things, and complements the discovery of the main character in the form of a letter from my uncle are doing. Moreover, the question "How will you live" which is also the title of this book is not only the ethical problem of "How to live", but also what kind of social scientific awareness will live. It is evaluating that the problem of being presented is presented.[11][clarification needed]

Author Yoshino Genzaburō, How Do You Live? was not originally conceived as a literary work, but was intended as a book on ethics. However, according to Takada Riko, this book is also a liberal art theory written for students of former junior high school during the height of culturalism. Takada focused on the privileged family environment and the high "social class" of the heroes. Those were drawn by the author, who was inspired by the people during his time at Takashi Associated Junior High School (now a high school attached to the University of Tsukuba). He pointed out that this book is meant to call out to the person, a human being capable of a self-living way (that is, educated) was then a limited number of privileged boys at the time.[12]


The story alternates viewpoint and storytelling between Koperu and his uncle.[13] Koperu narrates his life in school as he goes through the life as a school child. His uncle narrates his experiences to help his nephew deal with bullying and struggles.


Koperu deals with the struggles of growing up as a human being. Much of the aspect of growing up involves dealing with people who are in opposition to the person, bullying, and philosophy.



In 2017, the book was serialized in manga form by Shoichi Haga and saw publication by Magazine House under the title of "How do you live? cartoon stories".[14]


Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are currently in production of a film inspired by the novel. In the film, the original book by Yoshino will have significant meaning for the main character. Its production started in 2016, and is currently estimated to be completed by 2023.[15][16]


  1. ^ 山本‖有三; 吉野‖源三郎 (1937). 君たちはどう生きるか. 東京: 新潮社.
  2. ^ "Hayao Miyazaki's Final Film title is How Do You Live?". The Outerhaven. 2017-10-28. Archived from the original on 2018-02-21. Retrieved 2018-03-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Details Revealed on Hayao Miyazaki's New Anime Film HOW DO YOU LIVE?". GeekTyrant. Archived from the original on 2018-02-13. Retrieved 2018-03-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Hayao Miyazaki's new anime titled after 1937 book 'Kimitachi wa Do Ikiru ka' | The Japan Times". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  5. ^ Ashcraft, Brian. "Hayao Miyazaki Announced The Title Of His Last Film". Kotaku. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  6. ^ "Details Revealed on Hayao Miyazaki's New Anime Film HOW DO YOU LIVE?". GeekTyrant. Retrieved 2018-03-22.
  7. ^ "君たちはどう生きるか / 財団法人大阪国際児童文学館 子どもの本100選 1868年-1945年". Archived from the original on 2013-07-24. Retrieved 2018-03-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b 吉野源三郎「あとがき」『君たちはどう生きるか』岩波文庫、1982年 301–303頁
  9. ^ 児玉, 英明 (August 2014). "吉野源三郎に学ぶ教養教育の理論と思想 : 教養教育の源流をふまえた質保証(【一般A-1】教育理論・思想・哲学(a),一般研究発表【A】,発表要旨)". 日本教育学会大會研究発表要項. 73: 110–111. Archived from the original on 2018-03-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ 吉野源三郎『君たちはどう生きるか』岩波文庫、1982年 25頁
  11. ^ 丸山真男「『君たちはどう生きるか』をめぐる回想」吉野源三郎『君たちはどう生きるか』岩波文庫、1982年 310–311頁
  12. ^ 高田里惠子『グロテスクな教養』ちくま新書、2005年 25–27頁
  13. ^ "ついに100万部突破『君たちはどう生きるか』 若き漫画家が描き切った「人生で大切なこと」". BuzzFeed (in Japanese). Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  14. ^ 翔一, 羽賀 (2017). 漫画君たちはどう生きるか. 東京: マガジンハウス.
  15. ^ "Hayao Miyazaki's "Last Film" Titled 'Kimi-tachi wa Do Ikiru ka' Might be Released in Two-Three Years". Ani.ME. Archived from the original on 2018-03-18. Retrieved 2018-03-17. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Romano, Nick. "Studio Ghibli co-founder teases Hayao Miyazaki's next 'big, fantastical' film". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 February 2021.