2022 NO.33


Journey Through Japanese Literature


The Murakami Haruki Experience

A library dedicated to the globally renowned novelist, Murakami Haruki, has opened in Tokyo. From the architecture and furniture to each book on the shelves, this intoxicating space is filled with the best of Murakami literary inspiration.

Photos: Kurihara Osamu, CHUOKORON-SHINSHA, INC.

A stairway of bookshelves comes down to the basement. Built with bench steps for sitting and reading.

Over his 40-year career as a writer, Murakami Haruki has produced numerous masterpieces, including A Wild Sheep Chase (Hitsuji o Meguru Boken), Norwegian Wood (Noruwei no Mori), and 1Q84. His novels have been translated into more than 50 languages. Fans around the world are fascinated by his uniquely sophisticated yet easy to read narratives.

Dedicated to bringing Murakami's work closer to readers, the Waseda International House of Literature (The Haruki Murakami Library) opened in October 2021 at Waseda University, his alma mater, in Tokyo. Passing through the arched entrance, visitors come face-to-face with “stairway bookshelves” stacked with books lining either side of an atrium. The architect, Kuma Kengo, sees Murakami’s works as “a tunnel connecting reality and unreality,” and has designed the space accordingly, to give the visitor a sense of moving into the world of Murakami.

Warm wooden arch framing the entrance.

The library has translations in more than 50 different languages.

Descending into the basement, Murakami’s study with desk and chair has been reproduced in great detail, down to the size of the shelves and even his favorite pencils. This replica of the environment where Murakami creates his works is an ideal spot to come for some inspiration.

The first floor of the library is filled with rare first editions and translations of Murakami’s works in many different languages. Reading nooks are scattered throughout, inviting the visitor to pick up any book that catches the eye and settle in to a comfy spot to read. There is also an audio room, another great place to sit down for a read. A jazz aficionado, Murakami has spoken publicly many times about the influence this music has had on his writing. He even ran a jazz bar called “peter-cat” at one time. Sitting down to read a favorite Murakami novel with an album from the author’s own vinyl collection playing on the sound system makes for a truly special time.

Murakami’s study is reproduced as faithfully as possible, including desk, stationary, and sofa.

Audio room displaying vinyl collected by Murakami over the years.

The facilities also feature a student-run cafe and research lab for meetings and events. More than simply a Murakami archive, the library reflects the author’s intention to foster spaces for human connection. It offers a comfortable place for all kinds of people to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of Murakami’s world and enjoy some conversation about the fascination of literature.

An illustration of The Sheep Man from A Wild Sheep Chase (Hitsuji o Meguru Boken) drawn by Murakami himself is painted on the Gallery Lounge wall.

Still from Drive My Car, the 2021 film adaptation of the Murakami short story by the same name. ©2021 Drive My Car Production Committee

I think stories are a universal language. And stories are also the essence of a novel. So, through novels, we should be able to converse with so many people around the world and understand each other. We planned the Waseda International House of Literature with the idea that it could be a center for this sort of thing. My hope is that a lot of people will feel free to use it.

Murakami Haruki