Forty-five years ago today, Murakami began writing a novel

April 1, 2023 By murakamiclub

On April 1, 1978, Haruki Murakami was at Jingu Stadium, watching the Yakult Swallows play the Hiroshima Carp from the bleachers, drinking beer. He, 29 at the time, ran a jazz bar and had never written a novel.

In the bottom of the first inning, the moment Dave Hilton of the Yakult Swallows hit a double, Murakami got an epiphany that he could write a novel, so after the game he bought writing paper and a fountain pen and began writing his first novel that night.

Today, April 1, 2023, Yakult Swallows played Hiroshima Carp at Jingu Stadium. It was the first time in 45 years since “That Day” that the two teams played at Jingu Stadium on April 1.

The players and coaches of both teams are completely different from 45 years ago, but beer was cold and the weather in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo was clear and sunny.

This year, the team’s leading player is Munetaka Murakami (not a relative of the author), and there were many fans in Murakami uniforms at the stadium.

This year’s baseball season has begun. May it bring a lot of fun and excitement, and at the same time, may it give an “epiphany” to someone in the stadium.

I wish you all a happy April.

Interview page in Shukan-Gendai magazine (July 3, 1980), shortly after the release of "Pinball, 1973".
In the interview article in Shukan-Gendai on July 3, 1980, Murakami said, “I guess I’ve been a Yakult Swallows fan for more than 10 years. At first, I liked the Jingu Stadium more than the team itself. The bleachers were grass, and I loved to lie down and watch the game while drinking beer, but now the seats have been replaced by chairs. As for the managers, I liked Mihara and Hirooka. I am still a pretty passionate fan.”

..One bright April afternoon in 1978, I attended a baseball game at Jingu Stadium, not far from where I lived and worked. It was the Central League season opener, first pitch at one o’clock, the Yakult Swallows against the Hiroshima Carp.

..The sky was a sparkling blue, the draft beer as cold as could be, and the ball strikingly white against the green field, the first green I had seen in a long while.

..In that instant, for no reason and on no grounds whatsoever, the thought suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.

..Or maybe epiphany is the closest word. All I can say is that my life was drastically and permanently altered in that instant—when Dave Hilton belted that beautiful, ringing double at Jingu Stadium.

Haruki Murakami: The Moment I Became a Novelist