Books and Music : 本と音楽

Kyoto Univ

HOUSEIKAN Book Store 宝盛館

Murakamis subscribed to two libraries of world literature, Sekai Bungaku Zenshū(世界文学全集, Kawade Shobō) and Sekai no Bungaku(世界の文学, Chūō Kōron sha) from the store.

>Mouseover for an image of Sekai Bungaku Zenshū

Rubin said in his book Murakami’s reading habits:

“He was permitted to buy books on credit at the local bookstore, as long as he avoided comic books or trashy weekly magazines. Haruki became a voracious reader, as his parents no doubt wished him to be, but their progressive policy on books may have backfired. When Haruki was twelve, they subscribed to two libraries of world literature, volumes of which would arrive at the local bookstore every month, and Haruki spent his early teens devouring them.

Chiaki [Haruki's father] may have hoped that by helping Haruki with his Japanese Language studies each Sunday morning he would encourage his son to develop an interest in the Japanese classics, but Haruki preferred Stendhal, and Dostoevsky. In recent years Haruki has begun to read Japanese literature – though only modern fiction, not the classics.”

Haruki Murakami Music

After hearing Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers at the live concert in 1964, the 15-year-old Haruki would often skip lunch to save money for jazz records.

Jay Rubin

Music was another source of attention. Murakami has familiar with classic and pop music from his boyhood. He listened to American music hour by hour on the radio: Elvis Presley, Rick Nelson, The Beach Boys.

In his book, Dance Dance Dance―the title came from old R&B song by The Dells―34-year-old protagonist shared feeling with a clairvoyant and troubled 13-year-old girl while driving and singing alone with the music from car stereo:

“You really remember the words, don’t you!” Yuki said, genuinely impressed.
“Who wouldn’t? I was just as crazy about rock as you are,” I said. “I used to be glued to the radio every day. I spent all my allowance on records. I thought rock ‘n’ roll was the best thing ever created.”
“And now?”
“I still listen sometimes. I like some songs. But I don’t listen so carefully, and I don’t memorize all the lyrics anymore. They don’t move me like they used to.”
“Now that you’re not young anymore, do you still fall in love?” asked Yuki.
I had to think about that one. “Difficult question,” I said finally. “You got any boy you like?”
“No,” she said flatly. “But there sure are a lot of creeps out there.”
“I know what you mean,” I said.
“I’d rather just listen to music.”
“I know what you mean.”
“You do?” she said, surprised.
“Yeah, I really do,” I said. “Some people say that’s escapism. But that’s fine by me. I live my life, you live yours. If you’re clear about what you want, then you can live any way you pleased. I don’t give a damn what people say. They can be reptile [giant alligator] food for all I care. That’s how I look at things when I was your age and I guess that’s how I look at things now. Does that mean I have arrested development? Or have I been right all these years? I’m still waiting on the answer to that one.”
“How come?”
“How come?”
“Yeah, how come? Tell me.”
“Maybe it’s because after all this time I think that really good songs―or really good anything―they’re hard to find,” I said. “Like if you listen to the radio for a whole hour, there’s maybe one decent song. The rest is mass-produced garbage. But back then I never thought about it, and it was great just listening. Didn’t matter what it was. I was a kid. I was in love. And when you’re a kid you can relate to anything, even if it’s silly. Am I making sense to you?”
“Kind of.”

Then after hearing Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers at a live concert in 1964, the 15-year-old Haruki would often skip lunch to save money for jazz records.


Feature Story

  • Google Earth

    The Town :

    Let's start with the town, where Haruki grew up and his stories came from. The sea out in front, hills behind, and right next door, major port.

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    Hanshinkan Boy : 阪神間少年

    Hanshinkan, the area between Osaka and Kobe, was a comfy place to spend Haruki's boyhood to the adolescent period.

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    Junior High School Years : 中学時代

    Of his middle-school years, Murakami has written that all he remembers is being beaten by his teachers. He didn't like them and they didn't like him because he wouldn't study.

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    Family Ties : 親子関係

    Young Haruki would often hear his parents discussing eighth-century poetry or medieval war takes at the dinner table. Haruki said, “Throughout my teens I became hate ‘Japanese literature’ and ‘teachers’.”

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    High School Years : 高校時代

    Haruki would play Mahjongg almost every day, fool around with girls, spend hours in jazz cafés and cinemas, smoke, skip school, read novels during class, and so forth, but his grades were never terrible.

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    Leaving Home : 街を離れる

    "The town has deep hold on me; almost all my memories are tied up with the place. Yet the spring I left town to enter university, I let out a sigh of relief from the bottom of my heart,"Haruki said in his novel.

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    The River :

    "The road by the river had been one of my favorites. I could walk at the same speed as the river. I could feel it breathing. It was alive. The town belonged to the river from the very beginning, and it would always be the way."

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    The Lost Sea : 失われた海

    In his novels and essays, Murakami expressed his deep emotional attachment to the sea that was close to him throughout his adolescence years.


    Dance Dance Dance
  • Dance Dance Dance   ダンス・ダンス・ダンス

    "Murakami is a lover of music - music of all kinds: jazz, classical, folk, rock. It occupies a central position in his life and work," Jay Rubin said in his book Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words. The protagonists of Murakami's stories often touch on music, among them that of Dance Dance Dance takes up tons of music titles.