Junior High School Years : 中学時代

Murakami Haruki house
ODAKANE Fuji

The Murakamis moved to the house in Asiya city where Haruki lived until 1968 when he lwft the town. The Murakamis lived here until 1995 when they went back to Kyoto after The Great Hanshin earthquake.

Haruki went to Seidō (精道) municipal junior high school (J) in Ashiya (芦屋) city instead. At the same time, the Murakamis moved to the city and 1 kilometer (3,300 feet) west of the second house, and Haruki’s last one in the region (C).

Haruki’s school life at Seidō was not happy as he wrote in his several essays. “Of his [Seidō] middle-school years, in the city of Ashiya, 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 – a habit he took with him to Kobe High School,” says Jay Rubin, an American academic and translator.

Murakami Haruki ODAKANE Fuji

Seidō (精道) Junior High School

“My life was forced to bring a substantial change due to the beating from teachers," said Haruki.

“My life was forced to bring a substantial change due to the beating from teachers,” Murakami said, “It was never happened at the elementary school or high school.” One of alumni alleged the same experience at the time there.

I think compulsory uniformity under the military rule centered on Emperor had gone at the end of World War II; totalitarian tendency among teachers has not changed. They changed the banner from imperialism to socialism, and have embraced constraint. When Murakami attended the middle school, over 80% of teachers joined Japan Teachers' Union nationwide, and the area especially had high rates of unionization. Those who have such mentality hate a person of few words and one's own mind like young Murakami and Tamura Kafka, a protagonist in Kafka on the Shore.

In 2000, Roland Kelts asked Murakami if he could explain the appeal of his books to younger readers. “My protagonists are so lonely,” he said, “but at least they have their styles, their obsessions to survive on. That means a lot. They don’t know what the purpose of life is or what their goals are, but they have to live on in any case. It’s kind of stoic life, to survive strictly on your obsessions. It’s also kind of religious, sometimes. You could say that it’s a kind of postmodernist view-to survive meaningless life strictly on your tastes in things, your style. Sometimes my readers are impressed by that kind of stoicism.” Then he leaned back and sighed. “It’s not easy, you know.”

—ODAKANE Fuji

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

    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

    Books and Music : 本と音楽

    Haruki was permitted to buy books on credit at the local bookstore, as long as he avoided comic books or trashy weekly magazines, and he became a voracious reader.

  • 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.

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Ideas

    Kafka on the shore
  • Kafka on the shore

    Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.

    As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.