The Haruki Murakami Library at Waseda University—Let’s explore the Murakami world!
Haruki Murakami is one of the most renowned novelists of Japan. In fall 2021, the Haruki Murakami Library opened in the Waseda International House of Literature at Waseda University, from which he graduated. Let’s go check out this must-see collection of his works.
The mysterious, tunnel-like structure looks like a gateway into a parallel universe, which is a concept adopted in some of Murakami’s works.
Library renovated from an existing school building.
The building features a variety of attractions through which you can experience Murakami’s world, transcending the language barrier, such as the books deposited or donated by Murakami, his works in Japanese as well as ones translated into many different languages, his collection of jazz and classical music records, an audio room recreating an environment close to that of his own room, and a café where you can enjoy an original blended coffee.
Some of the vinyl records collected by Murakami are on display.
The main room on the 1st floor showcases his works from his 1979 debut up to the present. Many of the books have been deposited or donated by Murakami, and many of them are the first printed versions. The collection is something that Murakami fans would die for. Moreover, it features works published overseas as well as overseas literary works translated by Murakami himself.
The gallery lounge, which is also on the 1st floor, is a reading area. One of the walls has an illustration of a familiar character, the Sheep Man, from A Wild Sheep Chase, so you can take pictures as if you are sitting at the table with the Sheep Man.
“The gallery lounge” is a reading space surrounded by the warmth of wood.
The “Sheep Man” painted by Murakami himself is on the wall.
Not only is the audio room equipped with an audio system that is pretty much the same as the one in Murakami’s own room, but it also has gimmicks that let you immerse yourself in the daily life of Murakami. You also don’t want to miss out on “Murakami no Shosai” located on the 1st basement floor, which is a recreation of Murakami’s study. The audio system here is also of the same model as the one he has been using at home. The space has been carefully created with meticulous attention to detail, such as similar furniture as well as music records and pencils, so as to allow you to image the space in which Murakami creates his works.
The recreated “Murakami no Shosai” and audio system.
After enjoying the library, it is highly recommended that you stop by at the café called “橙子猫 - Orange Cat -.” Named after “Peter Cat,” a jazz café that Murakami was running when he was a student, Orange Cat is operated by Waseda University students. The café serves its original blended coffee, and it also has furniture that had actually been used at Murakami’s house.
Cafe “Orange Cat” run by Waseda University students.
There are other interesting things on display such as the grand piano that used to be used for live performances at Peter Cat back in the days, as well as the neon signs used for the performances of the stage adaptation of a long novel titled Kafka on the Shore.
Grand piano used at the jazz cafe “Peter Cat” that Murakami ran.
The library was designed by Kengo Kuma, one of Japan’s leading architects. According to Kuma, the works of Murakami invoke the image of a tunnel, through which spacetime changes and something new starts. The collaborative piece of work by Haruki Murakami and Kengo Kuma, two of Japan’s most renowned contemporary masters, is a must see.
The tunnel has been designed in such a way as to extend all the way from the basement floor up to the 2nd floor.
The Haruki Murakami Library is a place where not only literature fans, but also even those with only a slight interest in literature can have a wonderful time immersing themselves in the world of Haruki Murakami. Why not add it to the list of your destinations during your time in Tokyo?
■DATA The Waseda International House of Literature (The Haruki Murakami Library) Address: Building No.4 1-6-1 Nishi-waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Opening hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission: Free Closed on Wednesdays and other days(Please check the website.) TEL: 03-3204-4614 (reception counter) Official website: https://www.waseda.jp/culture/wihl/en (Information as of October 2023)