1Q84 virtual pilgrimage

September 14, 2021 By mk

When Haruki Murakami writes his novels, he carefully writes the detailed settings one by one and constructs the characters accordingly. Although essentially fictional, his narrative is deeply intertwined with the place in which it is set, and as a result, composes a unique realism. 1Q84, set in Tokyo in 1984, is no exception.

1Q84 is set in Tokyo except for Futamatao in the northwest (where Ebisuno lives) and Chikura in the southeast (Town of Cats, Tengo’s father’s place), as well as Ichikawa, where Tengo and Aomame lived when they were in primary school, and Chuorinkan, where Ushikawa had a family.

The setting locations are within a diameter of 125km (78miles).

In Tokyo, most of the set locations are those in the southwest*

Koenji, where Tengo lived and Aomame hid; Sangenjaya, there is Expressway emergency stairs; Jiyugaoka, where Aomame lived, Shibuya and Hotel Okura, where Aomame did her “mission”; Roppongi and Nogizaka, where Aomame hung around with Ayumi; Azabu, where the dowager lived; Hiroo, where Aomame worked at a sports club; Shinjuku, where Tengo met Komatsu and Fuka-Eri; Yotsuya, where Tengo and Komatsu went to a bar; Yoyogi, where Tengo woked for the cram school; Kojimachi, where Ushikawa’s office was.

*The locals understand the location of the places in Tokyo with reference to that of the Imperial Palace.

The setting locations are almost within a diameter of 15km (9.3miles).

Expressway stairway in Sangenjaya

It would be quite eye-catching if a beautiful assassin came down the emergency stairs.
There’s no Esso, but the Kygnus Oil signboard (yellow and white one) is near the emergency exit. In 1984, Expressway No.3 was a regular traffic route, but it is not so much nowadays. <map>


Shibuya is known for its scramble crossing. It is also the setting of Murakami’s “After Dark”. In 1Q84, Aomame accomplished her “mission” at the hotel near the station. <map>

Hotel Okura

The Hotel Okura, located by the American Embassy, is one of Japan’s leading luxury hotels and has accommodated the world’s VIPs. The lobby lighting is a combination of traditional Japanese craft art and modernism, called Okura Lantern. In 1Q84, Aomame confronts the leader of Sakigake, Fuka-Eri’s father, there. <map>

Kinokuniya Bookshop (Shinjuku Main Store)

Founded in 1927, Kinokuniya is one of Japan’s leading bookshops. Moichi Tanabe, the founder, believed that a city should not be mere a concentration of entertainment and culture, but a point that makes people think, “there is something if I go there”. Murakami himself and the protagonists of his novels often visited there to buy books. In 1Q84, Tengo did so. <map>

Nakamuraya Cafe (Shinjuku)

Founded in 1901, Nakamuraya is a food manufacturing and catering company. The founders of the company, Mr and Mrs Soma, supported artists and ran the Nakamuraya Salon. In 1918, the couple’s daughter married Indian independence activist Rath Bihari Bose, who taught them how to cook curry. The curry is still served today as “the taste of love and revolution”. In 1Q84, Tengo met Fuka-Eri at Nakamuraya Café. <map>

Cram school (Yoyogi)

A cram school is a special private school where classes are held outside school hours. In particular, large cram schools teach students who have graduated from high school and have failed the next level of exams. In 1Q84, Tengo taught at a cram school in Yoyogi, known for major cram school locates.

The Willow Well

There is a well beside Zenpuku-Ji Temple in Azabu, founded in 824. The well is said to have sprung up when the founder, Kobo Daishi (a member of the Saeki clan who trained himself in Shikoku, the setting place of Kafka on the Shore), stuck his cane into it. In 1Q84, the wealthy dowager lived in the Willow House in Azabu. <map>


Futamatao is located on the western edge of Tokyo Metropolitan, where renowned novelist, Eiji Yoshikawa (1892-1962) used to live, and his Memorial Museum stands now. In 1Q84, Tengo and Fuka-Eri visit Ebisuno’s house in Futamatao. <map>

The Town of Cats (Chikura)

Chikura is a small town by the sea, and the home of Murakami’s best friend, Mizumaru Anzai. Murakami has visited there on several occasions. In 1Q84, Fuka-Eri called it “Town of Cats”, and Tengo visited there to see his father. <map>
Sakutaro Hagiwara (1886-1942), renowned for his free-verse poetry, wrote: “Cat Town” in 1935, in which he wandered into a cat town on the other side of the universe with a magnet turned inside out. Mao Yamaguchi, an artist living in Chikura, has made a picture book of it. The English text (text only) is here.


Jiyugaoka was built in 1929 along a newly opened railway line and know for posh shops and restaurants. The name of the town means “hill of freedom”, and it is obviously different from the traditional Japanese location name. In 1Q84, Aomame lived in an apartment in Jiyugaoka. <map>


Koenji is a residential area just 7 minutes by train from Shinjuku, formed around a temple “Koen-ji” founded in 1555 and home to many small subculture shops and bars.
In 1Q84, Tengo lives in Koenji in contrast to Jiyugaoka, a posh town where Aomame lives. And then, Aomame moved to the safe house from which she could see the slide in the playground. <map>


The Locations List by Chapters

2-7Hotel Okura2-8Koenji/Chikura
2-9Hotel Okura2-10Chikura/Koenji/Yoyogi
2-11Hotel Okura2-12Koenji
2-13Hotel Okura2-14Koenji
2-15Hotel Okura/Shinjuku/Koenji2-16Koenji
3-31 Sangenjaya/Akasaka 3-31Sangenjaya/Akasaka