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Murakami Haruki: Journey into the Movies

murakami zuroku

For one reason or another, I have participated in several projects focused on the novelist Murakami Haruki. After being one of Murakami’s hosts when he was given an honorary doctorate at Yale in 2016, I was invited to participate in an international symposium in France in 2018, which then became a book in Japan in 2020 (a French version is supposed to come out, but there’s been no recent news on that). So I was not completely surprised when a curator at Waseda University’s Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum (fondly known as the Enpaku) asked me to write something for the catalog of an exhibition they were planning on Murakami’s relation to cinema. 

Most of Murakami’s long novels have not been made into films, yet there are some splendid cinematic adaptations of his short stories, ranging from Yamakawa Naoto's A Girl She Is 100% (1983) and Ichikawa Jun’s Tony Takitani (2004) to Lee Chang-dong’s Burning (2018) and Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s Drive My Car (2021). What not every Murakami fan knows, however, is that, in addition to inserting a myriad of cinematic references in his novels, Murakami was actually a film studies major at Waseda in college, with plans to become a scriptwriter. He apparently spent a lot of time in the Enpaku reading scripts and even wrote a senior essay on the motif of travel in American cinema. His career eventually moved in a different direction, but he has never strayed too far from cinema.

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