In One Word

In One Word, The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa is…


  • Published in English in 2018 by Viking (Translator: Philip Gabriel)
  • Format: Audiobook
    • Narrator: George Blagden
    • Listening Speed: 1x
  • Listening time: 3 emotional days


  • Because I really want to go to Japan, I picked this for the Golden Trio Reading Challenge for the ‘Apparition’ prompt. It’s also told from the POV of a cat which instantly made me excited to read it.
  • It’s told from the POV of nearly all the main characters and all the narrative voices are nicely different from the others but the most distinctive voice is Nana’s. It’s as haughty as you would expect a cat to be but, no matter how tough and unaffected he tries to appear, Nana can’t help betraying his softer side and his incredible love for Satoru.
  • The characters are all excellently developed from Satoru to Noriko. Every one of them has their own hopes and insecurities carried with them from childhood to adulthood. You really feel like any one of them could have been the centre of their own book.
  • The story starts with Nana as a hardened stray who simply likes how warm Satoru’s van is. Then, an unexpected chain of events lead him to becoming Satoru’s pet. Cat-loving Satoru is only too happy to take him in as he has more than a passing resemblance to his beloved childhood cat. Then, five years later, Satoru realises he can no longer look after Nana and goes on a trip around Japan to see his old friends, reminisce about old times and see if they can take Nana in. Nana, for his part, has absolutely no intention of parting with Satoru.
  • Excellent snarky asides from Nana about how ridiculous human problems are from a cat’s perspective. I feel like the author is trying to show us that, if we thought more like cats (e.g. knowing that a female’s choice of mate is final), we would all be happier.
  • Really funny moments dotted all over the book. Mostly from Satoru’s childhood as he shows himself to be a bit of a quirky, imaginative kid with a somewhat strange way of thinking. There’s also a lot of humour in the humans completely failing to understand what the animals are saying and from Satoru and Nana’s adventures between the visits to his friends.
  • Sensational descriptions of Mount Fuji and the Hokkaido countryside. It’s making me want to go there even more than I did before.
  • Well, I had a feeling that the characters had guessed wrongly about why Satoru wanted to find another owner for Nana but I was definitely not expecting that! The clues were so well hidden that, if you aren’t spoiled, the revelation will come as a complete shock to you.
  • Eager to surprise us with a new revelation about Satoru’s past even as we reach the end and the reader thinks they’ve covered everything there is to know about him.
  • Elected for a measured pace near the end but it never felt too long or that the author was drawing it out for the sake of making the readers emotional. I certainly didn’t need the help to get emotional.
  • That was an incredibly bittersweet epilogue. If you weren’t a sobbing wreck already, make sure you have some tissues to hand. This was been a short but very sweet reading experience as a whole. Now, if you excuse me, I need to dry my eyes and hug my cat.

Goodreads Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Did you agree with my rating? Can you think of a better word to describe it? Please let me know with a like, share or comment.

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