Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto, Japan on January 12, 1949. Born during the post-World War 2 baby boom, he spent his younger days in Aishya, Kobe, and Shukugawa. Murakamis’ father was the son of a Buddhist priest and his mother was the daughter of an Osaka merchant. Murakami was raised in a household where both parents taught Japanese literature. Murakamis’ literary inspirations branched out to Western and European writers. This influence distinguished his works from other Japanese writers.

Murakami was a successful student of drama at Waseda University in Tokyo. At Waseda University, he met his wife, Yoko Takahashi. Murakamis’ first job was at a record store, from there he went on to open a jazz bar and coffeehouse with his wife called the Peter Cat in Kokubunji, Tokyo. The bar had an ambitious run from 1974 to 1981.

Murakami is also an avid marathon runner and triathlon aficionado. Murakami did not start running until he was 33-years-old. He endured his first ultra marathon on June 23,1996, a rigorous 100-kilometer race around Lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan. He later went into detail about his love of running in his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (2008). It seems as though Murakamis’ life is deeply interwoven into his protagonists. In fact, it has been theorized that his characters are directly related to his life experiences. He uses these characters separately, not as a whole but as different entities to combat his inner demons. His memoir is a testament to how far he pushes himself to succeed.

The Creative Works of Haruki Murakami seamlessly creates a link to the process of his writing to the athletic perseverance of his marathon running. Murakamis’ ambition continues to lead him on a fruitful path. Endurance and concentration with a desire to develop talent reigns as a guiding force and practice. Murakami has a talent for training himself to defeat the odds. He outlines a concise mechanism, training the brain, in particular, to seek a guided understanding of every type of potential that he can accomplish.

His first groundbreaking novel, Hear the Wind Sing, was written when he was just 29-years-old. While watching a baseball game, he had a revelation as Dave Hilton came up to bat at the Jingu Stadium. Within the moment of sheer actualization, he realized that he could write a novel. Murakami claims to have never written or created anything before it.

Hear the Wind Sing entails a young man who meets a new friend at a bar in the summer of 1970. The books’ plot deals with depression as the character lost one of his girlfriends to suicide. The protagonist must battle how he has internalized his behaviors. The book follows the Trilogy of the Rat, being the first installment of the series. Hear the Wind Sing was featured in the powerful literary magazine, Gunzo, in Japan. The second installment, Pinball 1973 wraps itself around a protagonists’ short but all-consuming obsession with pinball. Seeing that these books deal with detachment, subconscious pain, and struggling to gain purpose when one feels purposeless, the pinball is used as a cathartic symbol. It demonstrates an attachment to aimless things that hold childhood memories that one wants to go back into. Where at one time, a goal was as simple as getting a plastic ball into a hole. In adulthood, there is a realization that the complexities of life are not that simple anymore. However, the catch is that the person either becomes the ball, the hole or the board. The choice deeply roots itself in the continual process of figuring that out. Trilogy of the Rat seems to mirror Murakamis’ life and translates into the eternity of paper and words that convey strength in solitude. Haruki Murakami goes on to delve into his psyche full of loss, enchanting readers with A Wild Sheep Chase. This is the third book in the Trilogy of the Rat series. The story continues to emphasize psychological redemption.

Murakamis’ works, misunderstood by many, has helped his seemingly macabre style obtain awards such as the Noma Literary Award for New Writers, Yomiuri Literary Award for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, World Fantasy Award, and a plethora of other eternal commencements for his works. Alienation and understanding human nature are themes that Murakami writes with passion and detachment. The real question is if his fixation on these motifs has played a role in his own catharsis. The reader is enthralled by how he has admitted to avoiding socializing with other writers, he seeks retreat in himself. Fans place themselves in a position to empathize the confusion of the human experience.

Philosophical contexts that deal with postmodernism, existentialism, and sexuality will always be relatable in films. Murakami illuminates realities of the real and surreal in order to portray reality as it is. Influenced by dueling perceptions and the violence of will versus societal molding. Murakamis’ message in his works will always find their way in curious hands.

Film Adaptions of Murakamis’ Works

Hear the Wind Sing was adapted by Kazuki Omori in 1981 for a Theatre Art Guild. Another classic, Attack on the Berry was released in 1982, directed by Naoto Yamakawa. In 1983, A Girl, She Is 100 Percent, was additionally directed by Naoto Yamakawa.

There have been plenty of film adaptions and theatrical efforts based off of Murakamis’ unique and transcendental works. His Western influences have given him the reputation of being extraordinarily experimental. Carlos Cuaron directed The Second Bakery Attack, starring Kirsten Dunst in 2010. Granz Genman channeled elements based on the same short story for his 1998 movie, Der Eisbaer.

Tony Takitanti, a short story, was adapted by Japanese film director, Jun Ichikawa. Ichikawa transformed it into a 75-minute film debuted at festivals in Los Angeles and New York on July 29, 2005. In 2010, Tran Anh Hung turned the novel, Norwegian Wood, into a drama that was shown in Japanese theaters. Murakami enthusiasts dedicate screenplays and their own works of art, only to touch the surface of the literary mask he wears. Murakamis’ works are easy to turn into magnificent works of art on the screen.

Books published in order by series

Rat Books

Hear the Wind Sing(1987) 
Pinball, 1973(1985) 
A Wild Sheep Chase(1989) 
Dance, Dance, Dance(1993) 

Standalone Novels

The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and End of the World(1987) 
Norwegian Wood(1987) 
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle(1997) 
South of the Border, West of the Sun(1999) 
Sputnik Sweetheart(2001) 
Kafka on the Shore(2005) 
After Dark(2007) 
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage(2014) 
Killing Commendatore(2018) 

Short Stories/Novellas

The Strange Library(2012) 
Birthday Girl(2019) 

Short Story Collections

The Elephant Vanishes(1993) 
After the Quake(2002) 
Vintage Murakami(2004) 
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman(2006) 
Men Without Women(2017) 


Birthday Stories(2004) 

Non-Fiction Books

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche(2000) 
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running(2008) 
Murakami Diary 2009(2008) 
Haruki Murakami Goes to Meet Hayao Kawai(2016) 
Absolutely on Music(2016) 
Murakami 2020 Diary(2019)
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