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A Library Devoted to Japanese Novelist Murakami Is Opening in Tokyo

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

Sep 22, 2021

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Renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma designed the Haruki Murakami Library at Waseda University opening on October 1.

Photo by AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

Renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma designed the Haruki Murakami Library at Waseda University opening on October 1.

Visitors enter the new library through a tunnel-like passageway, designed as an homage to Murakami’s protagonists who often travel between the real and the surreal.

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A library devoted to Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s writings, scrapbooks, and record collection opens next week in Tokyo as a place for literary research, cultural exchange, and a gathering spot for his fans.

The Haruki Murakami Library, which opens October 1 at Waseda University, his alma mater, features a replica of his study with a simple desk, rows of bookshelves, and a record player, as well as a café run by students that serves his favorite dark roast coffee.

“I hope this will be a place where students can freely exchange and materialize ideas—a free, unique and fresh spot on the university campus,” Murakami, 72, said at a news conference announcing the library’s opening on September 22.

Visitors enter through a tunnel-like passageway in the five-story building designed and renovated by architect Kengo Kuma, one of Murakami’s many fans and the designer of the Tokyo Olympics stadium and the Ace Hotel Kyoto. Kuma said tunnels are his image of Murakami’s stories, in which protagonists often travel between the real and the surreal.

The library, officially called the Waseda International House of Literature, currently houses about 3,000 of Murakami’s books, manuscripts, and other materials, including translations of his work in dozens of languages and part of his massive collection of records.

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At a lounge next to the library, there is an audio room where records are on display, some stamped “Petercat,” the name of the jazz bar he ran after graduating from Waseda. They include records by Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis.

“I wish a place like this had been built after my death, so I can rest in peace and have someone take care of it,” Murakami joked. “I feel a bit nervous seeing it while I’m still alive.”

Murakami said he will contribute as much as possible to the library. It currently focuses on his works, but he said he hopes it will be expanded to include those of other novelists “so it becomes a wide-ranging and fluid research space.”

The library will also have a café that serves the author’s favorite dark roast coffee.

After his 1979 debut novel, Hear the Wind Sing, the 1987 romance Norwegian Wood became his first best seller, establishing him as a young literary star. He is also known for such best sellers as A Wild Sheep Chase, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and 1Q84 and is a perennial candidate for the Nobel Literature Prize.

Murakami is an avid listener and collector of music ranging from classical to jazz and rock, and it serves as an important motif in many of his stories. He also has written books on music.

Beginning in 2018, Murakami has hosted a “Murakami Radio” show on Tokyo FM on which he plays his favorite music and sometimes takes requests and questions from listeners. The archive project emerged in 2018 when Murakami offered to donate his collection of materials, which had grown so much over the past 40 years that he was running out of storage space at his home and office.

Tadashi Yanai, the founder of the parent company of Uniqlo and a Waseda alumnus, donated 1.2 billion yen (US$11 million) for the cost of the library.

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