Library devoted to novelist Murakami to open in Tokyo

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

The Haruki Murakami library, which opens on 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 favourite dark roast coffee.

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

Visitors enter through a tunnel-like passageway in the five-storey building designed and renovated by architect Kengo Kuma, one of Murakami’s many fans and the designer of the Tokyo Olympics stadium. 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. 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 cafe he ran after graduating from Waseda.

“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 focusses 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”.

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

Books of Haruki Murakami are displayed at the university’s new international house of literature as known as The Haruki Murakami Library at Waseda University. PHOTO: AP