Tokyo: A holy land for ‘Harukists’ at Waseda Univ.

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
The staircase is the iconic feature of the Haruki Murakami Library in Tokyo. Figures representing Little People in “1Q84” are seen on the book shelves.

The Haruki Murakami Library in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, is a place where any “Harukist,” or a fan of Haruki Murakami, would find irresistible. Here, they can access about 3,000 books and a vast vinyl record collection personally donated by Japan’s foremost novelist. The library also houses copies of Murakami’s novels translated into over 50 languages, a testament to his worldwide popularity.

The library opened in October last year after Waseda University, the alma mater of Murakami, 73, renovated a five-story building with a basement on the campus. Designed by architect Kengo Kuma, whose works include Tokyo’s new National Stadium, the library greets visitors with an arched wooden structure, creating a tunnel-like appearance that covers a staircase, with bookshelves on either side, leading to the basement. Through this architectural design, Kuma sought to express the feeling one may get when reading Murakami’s novels, which often go back and forth between our everyday reality and another world.

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
Murakami’s publications on display in the gallery lounge

In the gallery lounge on the first floor, Murakami’s major works, both in Japanese and other languages, are stored chronologically from his debut work, “Kaze no Uta o Kike” (Hear the Wind Sing) in 1979 to “Furukute Sutekina Classic Record tachi” (Nice and old classic records) published last year. There is also a large table in the middle of the lounge where visitors can peruse the books and learn foreign languages by comparing the Japanese and translated editions. The covers of the translated books sometimes look completely different from the original, so just looking at those designs alone can also be enjoyable.

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
A visitor sits in a leather chair in the library.

Many chairs are placed here and there inside the library. Three leather chairs near an illustration of Sheep Man from “Hitsuji o Meguru Boken” (A Wild Sheep Chase) are from the jazz cafe Peter Cat that Murakami used to run. And the round cocoon sofa in front of the audio room, where visitors can listen to records, was inspired by Air Chrysalis in “1Q84.”

The library’s official name is the Waseda International House of Literature. As an academic institution, the facility plays a role in conducting an in-depth study on international literature and translation, with Murakami’s literature at its core.

Photo by Taku Yaginuma / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun
A record cover bearing an illustration of Peter Cat, the name of a jazz cafe Murakami ran in the past

“I hope to make this library a place for cultural exchanges open to the whole world,” said Hirokazu Toeda, the director of the library.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Haruki Murakami Library: 1-6-1 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo