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The Future Diary, and Diaries of the Past

The Future Diary

Netflix series The Future Diary

It's nearing Valentines Day, and while love is in the air, what could be better than watching the new Netflix show The Future Diary!

The Future Diary

Is it possible to fall in love with someone on a reality tv dating show?

Our couple in question are 19-year old Maai from southern island Okinawa and 24-year old Takuto who is originally from north island Hokkaido, and is currently training to be a chef in Tokyo.

As we get to know the couple during the 8-part series, their open-heartedness to the potential of love is enchanting. The fact that they are falling for each other is unmistakeable. But we know that Maai has been cautioned not to reveal her feelings for Takuto until the end of the series, and we also know that at the end of the series they will have to separate.

The Future Diary

The Future Diary is a leather-bound book that is reminiscent of a book of Disney fairytales. Each hand-written message describes particular events that will happen during that day. It could be something as simple as getting on a bus and talking about their hometowns - it's heart-warming the way that the Diary steps up the couple’s relationship intimacy. Watching Maai recoil with embarrassment when the Diary tells her to hold Takuto’s hand for the first time, and watching Takuto’s delight when she finally gets the courage is adorable!

So if you would like to watch a heart-warming story set in beautiful Japanese scenery, why not take a look - it is available on Netflix now!


Diaries of the Past

Japanese books about the Heian era literature

I think you may know how I often like to think about the Heian origins of certain aspects of Japanese culture.

The term Future Diary intrigues me, as it evokes the diary-journals of those educated ladies of the Japanese Heian court. These diaries, which cover a variety of entries from lists of 'annoying things' to relationship heartbreak, have remained central to Japanese literature for over a thousand years.

The nikki of the Heian court ladies give a first-hand account of a myriad of court events, love affairs, festivals, ventures on pilgrimage, jokes and snipes, and details of everything from religious days to auspicious days, superstitions, and how to layer the colours of your juunihitoe :)

These gorgeous slim volumes are readily available to read. They transport you to the heart of Heian-kyō, the ancient capital which is now called Kyoto, and are perfect companion reading to the fictionalised court setting of The Tale of Genji.

pile of Japanese books

Kagerō Nikki, by Fujiwara no Michitsuna's Mother [The Gossamer Diary, ca.974]:

The Kagerō Nikki is an autobiographical diary detailing an unhappy marriage to Fujiwara Kaneie, by 'one of the three outstanding beauties of her day'. Known simply as Fujiwara no Michitsuna's mother, our diarist is the aunt of the author of the Sarashina Diary; she is related to Murasaki Shikibu through her sister's marriage, and related to Sei Shōnagon through the marriage of her brother.

'And so the months and the years have gone by, but little has turned out well for me.

Each new year in turn has failed to bring happiness.

Indeed, as I think of the unsatisfying events I have recorded here,

I wonder if I have been describing anything of substance.

Call it, this journal of mine, a shimmering of the summer sky.'

Heian lady in juunihitoe

Makura no Sōshi, by Sei Shōnagon [The Pillow Book, ca.1000] :

One of the finest works of Japanese literature, written by a contemporary of Murasaki Shikibu. Sei Shōnagon served as a gentlewoman to Empress Teishi. The Pillow Book is an intriguing collection of lists, insights, and anecdotes detailing life at the Heian court.

'On a bright moonlit night, when your carriage is crossing a stream,

it's lovely the way the water will spray up in shining drops at the ox's tread,

like shattered crystal.'

Picture of Izumi Shikibu in Heian juunihitoe robes

Izumi Shikibu Nikki [ca.1008]:

Highly regarded, and perhaps the greatest poet of them all, Izumi Shikibu was also a contemporary of Murasaki Shikibu.

Izumi Shikibu's diary details the early months of her tempestuous relationship with Prince Atsumichi, and offers a tantalizing glimpse into an exquisite world in which, 'everywhere, everywhere, there is poetry.'

Once it snowed heavily and he sent me a poem attached to a branch covered with snow:

Snow falls,

And on all the branches

Plum flowers are in bloom,

Though it is not yet spring.

I wrote back:

Thinking the plum flowers were in bloom

I broke the branch,

And snow scattered like flowers.

picture of Murasaki Shikibu

Murasaki Shikibu Diary [ca.1010]:

A beautiful collection of intimate thoughts, and scenarios from the Kyoto court, from the creator of the mesmerising The Tale of Genji. In the following extract we may well be witnessing the first use of her Murasaki nickname (which was given owing to the name of Genji's great love).

Major Counsellor Kintō poked his head in.

'Excuse me', he said. 'Would our little Murasaki be in attendance by any chance?'

'I cannot see the likes of Genji here, so how could she be present?' I replied.

Heain ladies in an illustration

Sarashina Diary by Sugawara no Takasue no Musume [ca.1060]:

This diary, written just a few decades after the first manuscripts of The Tale of Genji were compiled, opens with the young girl yearning to travel to Kyoto so that she might be able to read a copy:

I was brought up in a part of the country so remote that it lies beyond the end of the Great East Road. What an uncouth creature I must have been in those days!

Yet even shut away in the provinces I somehow came to hear that the world contained things known as Tales, and from that moment my greatest desire was to read them for myself.

To idle away the time, my sister, my stepmother, and others in the household would tell me stories from the Tales, including episodes about Genji, the Shining Prince;

but, since they had to depend on their memories, they could not possibly tell me all I wanted to know

and their stories only made me more curious than ever.

In my impatience I got a statue of the Healing Buddha built in my own size.

When no one was watching, I would perform my ablutions and, stealing into the altar room,

would prostrate myself and pray fervently,

'Oh, please arrange things so that we may soon go to the Capital, where there are so many Tales,

and please let me read them all.'

These beautifully written diaries, created so early in the history of Japanese writing, have their own special and revered place in classical Japanese literature, termed bungaku nikki. I hope you've enjoyed our brief wander through them!


More Outdoors Japanese Drama!

Yure Camp characters in front of Mount Fuji

Yuru Camp (Photo: Reddit)

Lastly, a part of The Future Diary is set in the picturesque scenery of an Okinawan beach, where Maai and Takuto camp and enjoy outdoor cooking.

If you're keen to continue the outdoors spirit, there is a very cute teen drama called Yuru Camp (ゆるキャン△, Laid-Back Camp), which features a bunch of friends who love outdoor camping!

Like many Japanese dramas, Yuru Camp began as a popular manga drawn by Afro, and owing to its popularity it has subsequently been made into an anime and two short live action series. It's great to see Haruka Fukuhara from Netflix' Good Morning Call playing the independent solo camper Rin.

Rin from Yuru Camp making S'mores

Yuru Camp from Dramacool

It's simply a cute drama about friendship. It's also about learning how to choose camping equipment, how to set up camp in beautiful camping sites, and most of all, how to cook warming and delicious meals outdoors!

Set in the beautiful Yamanashi Prefecture near Mount Fuji, it features Rin and Nadeshiko and friends as they explore the beautiful campsites!

They camp in winter! That's very impressive! :)

Yuru Camp anime characters

A Yuru Camp animated movie is to be released in 2022! (


On a side note, the set for The Future Diary's discussion panel appears to be the amazing architecture of Kengo Kuma for the Kadokawa Culture Museum. Take a look at this link and see what you think!

We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog about the reality tv show The Future Diary,

and how we looked into the origins of the diary in Heian Japanese literature,

and our brief look at outdoorsy Yuru Camp!

If you've enjoyed this blog you may like to read Great Japanese Romantic Dramas and Movies too!

Thank you for reading,

Cathy and Yukki


illustration of cherry blossom


Photo from The Future Diary: Netflix

Photo of the Future Diary:

Fujiwara no Michitsuna's Mother, Ed Seidensticker (trans.), The Gossamer Years, (Tuttle Publishing), p.9 and p.69.

Sei Shōnagon, Meredith McKinney (trans.), The Pillow Book, (Penguin Classics), p.193 [215].

Izumi Shikibu, Annie Shepley Omori and Kōchi Doi (trans.), Izumi Shikibu Nikki, (Toyo Press), p.118.

Murasaki Shikibu, (Richard Bowring, trans.), The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu, (Penguin Classics), p.31.

Sugawara no Takasue no Musume, (Sonja Arntzen and Itō Moriyuki, trans.), The Sarashina Diary, (Columbia University Press), p.xiv.

Sugawara no Takasue no Musume, (Ivan Morris, trans.), As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, (Penguin Classics), p.31.

Izumi Shikibu picture

Murasaki Shikibu picture

Sei Shōnagon picture


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