The Murakami literary trail [PICS]

As a Haruki Murakami fan, my recent trip to Tokyo became a semi-pilgrimage literary tour dedicated to the popular Japanese author.

I was in part inspired by a New York Times article by Sam Anderson who visited some key places from Murakami’s life and work.

This post documents the places I visited in Tokyo that have appeared in Murakami’s works.

It was crazy to relieve the experience of being in a certain location that was mentioned in a fiction because it felt like walking into the book’s storyline.The moon
In the world of 1Q84, there are two moons in the sky – a large and small moon. The large one is the usual moon, full and yellow, while the small one is ‘somewhat lopsided, and greenish, as though thinly covered with moss.’

Even though there were no two moons in the sky, but the moon I saw in Tokyo was magical because I witnessed a total solar eclipse, one that has not been visible since 1839.

It was a truly amazing sight and was also our parting gift with the city that has such a diverse and vibrant energy!

Aoyama Itchome
The protagonist in Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World emerged from an underground labyrinth at Aoyama Itchome subway station ‘covered with mud, clothes drenched, hair matted, eye squinting at the ordinary light.’

Thankfully, when transiting at Aoyama Itchome, there were no suspicious looking characters lurking around as I took the Ginza line towards Shibuya.Ginza

“We took the subway to the Ginza. Early and hungry, we stopped at the Dairy Queen for a hamburger. “Tell me, Mr. Wind-Up Bird,” said May Kasahara, “would you wear a toupee if you were bald?””

Kasahara, a teenage wig-maker, was in Ginza with Toru Okada, the unemployed lead character of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, counting the number of bald men that walked past.

Yet the barrage of lights, shops and people kept my senses busy such that bald men were not within my line of vision. Instead if you are at Ginza, I would recommend to visit Itoya, a nine-storey store selling a smorgasbord of stationary from the most practical to the cutest items you will ever need.
Shinjuku – Kinokuniya and Nakamuraya

Nakamuraya Café in Shinjuku was one of the favorite venues where 1Q84 characters would meet and have important conversations.

“Tengo took the elevated train to Shinjuku after his third class ended. He bought a few books at the Kinokuniya bookstore and then headed to the Nakamuraya Café.”

I did not have a particularly craving for Indian curry that day, which was Nakamuraya’s specialty, so I hastily snapped a shot of the restaurant’s sign (right) whilst avoiding the endless stream of people in central Shinjuku.

Just a stone throw away is the eight-storey Kinokuniya Shinjuku main bookstore Tengo frequents in the first book. Kinokuniya has an incredible book selection filled with books of every genre in store, though disappointingly their English collection was dismally small for such a huge bookstore.Chiyoda line
The Chiyoda subway line extends throughout the central nexus of Tokyo’s business district and the imperial household palace grounds. Due to its central location, cult group Aum Shinryoko released sarin gas in one of its trains during the 1995 terrorist attacks.

This was mentioned in Murakami’s non-fiction novel Underground, detailing the tragic incident from a literary, rather than news angle. I alighted at Hibiya station on the Chiyoda line on my way for a visit to the Imperial Palace, where parts of it are open to the public, including the Japanese-styled East Gardens.

On a side note, Murakami’s latest 900-page 1Q84 remains as one of the top sellers in most of the bookstores I visited in Tokyo and is also my best novel of 2011. If you are interested to read my review, click here.

Ending off with a magnificent picture of the famous Mount Fuji at dusk!

8 thoughts on “The Murakami literary trail [PICS]

  1. I have been meaning to read his work. Never did. What you recommend I read first?

  2. What a fun post, and a great adventure as a Murakami fan. I lived in Japan for a number of years and still go back annually with my Japanese husband, who incidentally grew up in the city where many of the scenes in 1Q84 take place. He said it definitely made reading the book that much more fun.

    1. Oh yes! I had such a great time at last spring combing the streets of Tokyo to relieve scenes from Murakami’s books like a fan girl. I remembered the waitresses were literally shooing me away from Nakamura curry house when I tried snapping some interior shots of the restaurant since I was not a customer there.

  3. Excellent post! Though I pretty much only read scifi and fantasy, I can imagine how wondrous an experience this wasfor you. Plus, I love Japan, and hope to go some day. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Justin for your compliments! Japan is indeed a beautiful country that is always full of surprises and niceties. You should check there out some day (:

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