Peter cat I : ピーターキャットⅠ

Peter Cat Ⅰ

Peter cat I : ピーターキャットⅠ

Haruki and Yoko were able to open a cozy little jazz club named after Haruki´s old pet.

Murakami didn’t feel like going work for a company and becoming a salary man after graduating from university. He once thought about getting a job with a TV station and actually went for a few interviews, but “the work was too stupid.

“I felt I’d rather open up a little shop and do some kind of decent work by myself. I wanted to able to pick my own materials, make things and offer them to customers with my own hands,” he said, “About the only thing I could actually imagine doing through was running a jazz club. I like jazz and wanted to do something that was connected with it in some way.”

Murakami took a loan from Yōko’s father – loan, that is, with interest, the flip side of his fair-mindedness. To prepare for this new phase of their life, Haruki and Yōko began working part time for a record shop in the day and coffee house at night. They called the club “Peter Cat” after an old pet of Haruki’s. It had Spanish-style white walls, wooden tables and chairs, and in no way resembled J’s Bar in A Wiled Sheep Chase and the earlier novels.

Like other jazz clubs, theirs would have the music cranked up so loud that conversation would be all but impossible: it was the chance to listen to music and not to interact much with customers that attracted Murakami. A photographer Matsumura Eizō, one of the early regulars and remains a friend of this day recalled.

From the start he was impressed by the intensity with which Murakami threw himself into his work – and into the reading he would do in the little niche he had set aside for himself; it was this strange intensity that made Peter Cat such an unusual place “where time stood still’.

A Small House in Kokubunji

Peter Cat Ⅰ

Haruki, Yōko and a successor of Peter were living on an unusual triangular plot of land in Tokyo.

It was a windowless underground place. During the day it was a coffee bar, and at night alcohol was served. There, in the dim light, Murakami played jazz records, prepared drinks, washed dishes, and read.”

The club was remarkably successful, thanks to the long hours the young couple put in. But they were still struggling to make ends meet when they set up their own independent household.

The going got through, then even together. And one night, in dire straits, he and his young wife went walking, trying to sort out how they could pay off an outstanding debt of 30,000 yen/300 dollars. “Suddenly, we paused. We were both really depressed. But there, on the ground, was an envelope. Three 10,000 yen notes were inside. We held each other, and we started crying. We had no idea how we’d get through the future, but we could get through tomorrow.”Was that true? Kelts asked Murakami. “It’s the truth,” he said.

The short story Shaped More Like a Slice of Cheesecake Than Flat Broke(チーズ・ケーキのような形をした僕の貧乏,Chiizu-kēki no yō na katachi o shita boku no binbō, 1983) provides us with an amusing glimpse of what life might have been like in those early years of marriage, when Haruki, Yōko and a successor of Peter were living on an unusual triangular plot of land in Tokyo. Bounded on two sides by the tracks of two different – and constantly running – railway lines, the place was horribly noisy, but the very undesirability of the location made it possible for them to rent a small house rather than cramped apartment to which they would have been limited by their budget.


Feature Story

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    Peter cat II : ピーターキャットⅡ

    In 1980, aged 31, he was still the owner of a jazz club who happened to have written well-received first novel. But the prize encouraged him to try again. He still had to write at the kitchen table after long hours at the club, and it did not always go well.


    >Peter cat I
  • Peter cat I : ピーターキャットⅠ

  • ①850 records ②Focusing around 50s ③Audio equipments: DenonDP3000, FR24MKⅡ, ShureV15Ⅲ, Sansui AU6600, JBL L88plus ④¥250 ¥350 (night) ⑤1:00pm-1:00am ⑥In recent years, Jazz cafés are increasing on the Chūō Line including Kokubunji. For some reason the café have many cute girls as regular customers. You can enjoy jazz in a casual atmosphere.

Jazz May 1975