Lemon (short story)

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Author Motojirō Kajii
Original title "檸檬"
Translator Kenneth Traynor,Chinatsu Komori
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Genre(s) I-novel
Publisher (Doujinshi)同人誌
Publication date 1925

"Lemon" (Japanese: 檸檬, "Remon") is a collection of short stories by Japanese author Motojirō Kajii. "Lemon" was written in 1924, and was published as Kajii's first doujinshi. It was a 28-page handmade book: 4.25" x 5.5", staple-bound. The interior was color printed, with several high quality black-and-white photographs. The cover had a spine and a full color photograph on the front.

"Lemon" is one of Kajii's few works to have been translated into English. Although he was a relatively unknown writer during his short lifetime who published in only a few literary magazines, Kajii's poetic short stories are recognized today as masterpieces in Japan. The eponymous story "Lemon" is known as his representative work.


The protagonist, who has diseased lungs, is tormented by strange anxiety all the time, he lost his interest in a stationery store Maruzen, music and poetry that he had prior been interested in. He only continues walking around aimlessly in Kyoto.

In one such incident, he visits a fruit shop he likes on a regular basis through Teramati (Kyoto Miyako Naka-ku "八百卯 ; Eight Hundred Rabbit" - closed January 25, 2009). There were rare lemons placed side by side. He bought one lemon that he was interested in; the coldness of the fruit in his hand was just right. After that, he felt uncomfortable, even though he stopped by his favorite shop, Maruzen, he began feeling uneasy.

He felt an unchanged feeling of dissatisfaction, even though he looked at the usual picture albums that he used to like to view, he put the lemon as a time bomb on the pile of illustrations. Then he imagines the works of fine art flying out of the "Maruzen" shop, the excitement of blasting a lemon as a time bomb.

He was satisfied with what he had done at the end.


This short story describes the feeling of an ailing patient, and the mischievous emotions which every person has. Kajii wrote also many other works which had a main character with lung disease because the author was affected by tuberculosis himself. His life was a fight against poverty and sickness (he died from tuberculosis at the age of 31).

Maruzen was still near Sanjodori, Huyachotori in Kyoto at that time. After "Lemon" was published, it is said there was no end to people who continued leaving a lemon at Maruzen store in Kyoto (closed in October 2005).

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