Murakami in 2021

December 31, 2021 By mk

Today is the last day of the year 2021. As a Haruki Murakami fan living in Japan, I have compiled a list of topics related to him that I have seen this year.

Mizumaru Anzai Retrospective Exhibition

From 24 April to 20 September 2021, the exhibition of Mizumaru Anzai (1942-2014), Murakami’s best friend and highly influential illustrator, was held at the Setagaya Literary Museum in Tokyo.

As part of the many works of Anzai, illustrations of Murakami were displayed alongside Murakami’s books of which Anzai designed. Murakami’s message, “Even though I know you are no longer here,” left a lasting impression.

…I believe that Mizumaru did not only draw pictures, but from the beginning to the end, he continued to express himself as a person in the form of pictures. And no one else could have taken his place. That is why, even though we know that he is no longer here, we are compelled to look around for his image.
Illustration of Murakami

Uniqlo T-Shirts

On 8 March 2021, Pinball 1973, Norwegian Wood, Dance Dance Dance, Sputnik Sweetheart, Kafka on the Shore, 1Q84 and Murakami Radio T-shirts and pins went on sale at UNIQLO stores nationwide and online.
Tadashi Yanai, CEO of Uniqlo, and Murakami were at the same time classmates at Waseda University. Yanai, who has established one of the leading scholarship foundations in Japan, has donated to the construction of the Haruki Murakami Library.

Speech at Waseda University

On 1 April 2021, Murakami attended the entrance ceremony of his alma mater, Waseda University, and gave a speech welcoming the new students and received the Award for Distinguished Service to Art.

Murakami said, “Novels may be of little direct benefit to society, but without them, society cannot progress in a healthy manner. The role of novels, of literature, is to scoop out those things that cannot be scooped out by consciousness, logic alone, and fill in the gaps between the mind and consciousness.

Novels have been in the hands of people for over a thousand years, in many forms and many places. The profession of novelist has been inherited from hand to hand, like a torch. I would be delighted if any of you could pass on that torch or support it in any warm and supportive way.”

Essay Book: My Good Old Classical Records

On 24 June 2021, Haruki Murakami’s essay book on classical music, “Old and Wonderful Classical Records”, was released in Japanese (So far, only in Japanese).

In the essay, he intersperses his signature expressions, such as “If Mozart had never written a horn concerto, all the horn players in the world must have lived in a somewhat dimmer world than they do now”.

Film “Drive My Car”

On 20 August 2021, the film based on the same short story, “Drive My Car”, was released in Japan. The film has won numerous awards at film festivals around the world.

The short story review

Haruki Murakami Library

On 1 October 2021, The Waseda International House of Literature (The Haruki Murakami Library) opened at his Tokyo alma mater Waseda University.

As is implied in the “First Person Singular“, the 72-year-old author is thinking about what he can leave to the younger generation. The library is undoubtedly a part of it and his work, as the words on the library panel state.

Murakami Radio Beer

On 16 October 2021, Kazeuta (meaning: Wind’s Song), an ale style beer named after “Hear the Wind Sing”, and Yamikuro (INKlings in English), a porter style beer named after the character from “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World”, were released by COEDO Brewery in Japan. According to the brewery, Murakami himself contributed to the direction of the flavour.

This year, the state of emergency due to a pandemic led to restrictions on restaurant business in Japan, and a drop in beer consumption hit breweries. Against this backdrop, the beer bearing Murakami’s name sold well and helped those in a difficult time.

The Yakult Swallows won!

On 27 November 2021, the Yakult Swallows won the Japan Series.

Murakami, an honorary fellow of the Yakult Swallows Fan Club, personally watched the Japan Series baseball game” s” at the stadium and wrote a special message of congratulations in the 61st special issue of “Gekkan Marugoto Swallows (Monthly Everything Swallows Magazine)”, released on 4 December.

On 26 December 2021, Murakami said at the end of this year’s last Murakami Radio show (Murakami’s radio show was broadcast once a month this year).

The Yakult Swallows have won the championship this year, so it’s a very happy year for me. I hope you all have a happy new year.”

I wish you a Happy New Year. May the pandemic ends soon.