Murakami became a literary legend with his 1987 novel Norwegian Wood. Since then, he has stolen the hearts of readers with his quirky, slightly fantastic, yet somehow realistic worlds. His main characters are accessible yet not quite typical.
Shibuya, Tokyo 【After Dark】
While the precise location for “After Dark” goes unnamed throughout the novel, those familiar with Tokyo will identify it as none other than Shibuya.
Here you can absorb yourself in the stereotypical scene of Japanese night life, love hotels, salary men, Chinese prostitutes, stone eyed workers. Ultimately, there’s no doubt that those out after dark are outcasts looking for a place to bid their time. Find youself a 24 hour Denny’s, a think book, and order some coffee. You never know, perhaps your encounters will change you by dawn.
Takamatsu, Kagawa 【Kafka on the Shore】
Readers familiar with Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore will recall the town the protagonist, Kafka Tamura, ran away to. This port city on Shikoku Island served as the main setting for the novel.
Although some of the locations described in the book do not actually exist, a trip to the city is well worth it for both tourists and nerds a like. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, use this map to visit every location mentioned in the novel.
Hakone, Kanagawa 【South of the Border, West of the Sun】
Much like the Vegas of Japan, secrets never leave Hakone. This resort town will hide your hidden passions in the trees, drown your dishonesty in a hotspring, and send you back to Tokyo with a frazzled mind and an anxious heart.
At least, that’s the Hakone I imagined as I read about Hajime racing to his cabin to continue his illicit affair with his childhood friend, Shimamoto. While you’re there, don’t forget to see Mt. Fuji!
Aoyama, Tokyo [Dance, Dance, Dance]
Do your shopping in at a “fancy shmancy kinokuniya supermarket.” Walk around and experience one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Tokyo.
Finally, get lost in the Aoyama Itchome Station where the protagonists from Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World finally emerged, filthy and squinting at the blinding lights. Not surprisingly, Murakami has even called Aoyama his home.
Waseda university (Norwegian Wood]
Take a stroll down the same streets Murakami knew as a drama student at Waseda University. Hide the library. Visit in the Memorial Theatre Museum. Eat with your lover in the cafeteria. It was here, among the coffee shops and bookstores, that Toru Watanabe, the main character from Norwegian Wood, studies. Furthermore, the novel took place during the same period Murakami attended university. For this reason, it is arguably the author’s most autobiographical book. Moreover, if you’re a diehard fan, you can even tour the same dormitory Murakami lived in during his first year on campus. Wakeijuku Hall was the model for Watanabe and “Storm Trooper’s” room.
Just a short train ride away from the neon chaos of Shibuya is another Murakami fan hub. Unwind with some whisky and Jazz at bar DUG. Most noteworthy, Watanabe also frequented this Shibuya based jazz bar.
Hours: Monday- Saturday 12pm to 2am, Sundays and Holidays 12pm to 11:30pm
Address: Tokyo, Shinjuku-Ku, Shinjuku, 3-15-12
If all else fails, follow a stray cat.