The Implicit Artwork for the Book

April 12, 2023 By murakamiclub

The City and Its Uncertain Walls, out tomorrow, features illustrations by Jun Tada.

Jun Tada is an illustrator and printmaker who has provided artwork for books by many authors, including the Japanese translations of Ferdinand von Schirach and Paul Auster, as well as being noted for his feline illustrations.

Tada’s illustrations depict the faint light of hope in a seemingly hopeless situation in dark colours, weaving stereoscopic impressions out of flat surfaces, as the ukiyo-e masters did in the 19th century, but with the technique of modern Western printmaking.

Paul Auster (original text), Motoyuki Shibata (translation), Jun Tada (illustration), Auggie Wren’s Christmas Story (2021)
Daiju Abe (text) and Jun Tada (illustration), Honyaku Mokuroku (2020)

Jun Tada: Instagram

Book Cover as a Medium

The covers of Haruki Murakami’s books published abroad vary from country to country, with different designers projecting their imaginations. As far as I can see, in general, the covers of Murakami books in each country/region follow a certain design concept, making them distinctive so that readers can recognise that “this is a Murakami book”.

However, the designs of Murakami books published in Japan are diverse and, in a sense, inconsistent as a visual brand. In Japan, the name Haruki Murakami is a huge brand, so perhaps there is no particular need for visual branding. Anyway, with a few exceptions, each Murakami novel has featured a different designer/illustrator. As a result, his books have acted as a medium to introduce the illustrators to the readers.

In the essay “Abandoning the Cat, ” Murakami wrote about his memories of his father, who served on the Chinese front during the war, featuring illustrations by the Taiwanese artist Gao Yan. Although neither the author nor the publisher mentioned it, readers sensed a message in the choice of illustrator. And her illustrations, with sophisticated neatness and hidden power, became popular and familiar to many.

The Implicit

Jun Tada is already an accomplished printmaker and illustrator, but his illustrations for Haruki Murakami’s new book will bring him to an even wider audience.

No details are given on whether Tada read the novel and then drew the illustrations or if there was any interaction with the author. But his illustration, placed in the centre of the poster, is certainly a representation of the novel, opening up the reader’s imagination.

When I read the scene in “Carl Tohrberg’s Christmas” by Ferdinand von Schirach, illustrated by Jun Tada, where the main character goes outside while singing a song, I thought that this could be the bad end that the protagonist of “The End of the World and the Hard-Boiled Wonderland” might have met inside the walls.

And the word “Anamorphose”, mentioned at the end of the story, defined as “an image or drawing distorted so that it is recognisable only when viewed in a particular way”, will help stimulate the imagination while waiting for the new novel to be published.

Ferdinand von Schirach (original text), Shinich Sakayori (translation), Jun Tada (illustration), Carl Tohrbergs Weihnachten (2015)

“The City and Its Uncertain Walls” will be released in Japan tomorrow. May the translation be completed soon and bring new reading pleasure to the world.


The gallery of Sanyodo Bookstore near Jingu Stadium will host an exhibition of Jun Tada’s works from 13 April. The beloved Sanyodo Bookstore, founded in 1891, supports Yakult Swallows.