Two days before my birthday, I finished Murakami‘s 1985 opus, Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End Of The World 「せかいの終わりとハードボイルドワンダーランド」.

This was one weird book, but only (well, kinda) at the outset. The first person narrative in the first chapter doesn’t tell you much about who’s who, what’s what and when’s when. Until you get to chapter two, where’s where is added to this list. The characters are not named but are referred to by job titles (the Professor, the Librarian, the Colonel etc) except for the chubby girl, grand-daughter of the aforementioned Professor. You’d think that the scene will be likely set in the future as some of the ideas are so not 1985 although until Duran Duran gets played on a car stereo, you couldn’t help wondering if it is set in an anachronistic 80’s time period. The narrator is a Calcutec – a person working for the System (an arm of the government) who is able to take information and encrypt it using his surgically altered brain. A human zip drive cum encryption machine of sorts. The story begins with him assigned to do a job for the old man which led to him being hounded by the rival Semiotecs. The odd chapters deal with the Calcutec narrator’s storyline while the even ones deal with a narrator whose role was a Dreamreader newly brought into a city surrounded by a wall. The Dreamreader reads dreams (uhuh) by touching skulls of beasts/unicorns (still with me?) in the library that is run singlehandedly by, yes, you got it right, the Librarian. As with any work by Murakami, this was a case of just read and worry about understanding it later. And all will be revealed – the link between the Calcutec and the Dreamreader, the unicorn and the significance of the city which is the end of the world. I’d want to say more but it’s difficult to provide a longer synopsis without spoiling the story.

Oh, Murakami ain’t Murakami if the story doesn’t references to music or pop culture. Well, Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall rings pretty poignantly in this story.


Murg had a bright idea – what if we did a walkabout in Tokyo hitting all the spots described in the works of Murakami. A superb idea indeed although at the top of my head I remembered Akasaka being described in Wind-Up and the relation of the underground tunnels in Hard-Boiled Wonderland with Jingu Stadium and Sendagaya. If this is to happen, I need to basically get a list down. I wondered if anyone had already done this and this blog already has, albeit the selection is somewhat limited. Here’s the 1Q84 one for example:

Better than nothing, and I gotta start somewhere.


With regards the Murakami walkabout, I’ve finally got my act together and bought my flight tix and booked my hotel rooms for my first ever trip to Japan. Of course, this trip ain’t just about the author’s work but a culmination of all things I love about this country ever since I was a kid[1]. I’ll be going for 9 days and spending two of them in historic Kyoto whilst the rest will be in Tokyo. I am flying on JAL to NRT and will be spending the first night in a nice hotel in Nishishinjuku before taking the shinkansen to Kyoto the following noon. The timing couldn’t be better as it is hanami 「花見」 time. Kyoto will defo be super pretty (and busy). Like my first solo trip to Paris a few years back, I am looking forward to this trip although with some trepidation. And like last time, I did the Google Earth trick to check out the location of my hotel in Kyoto but I can’t see it whatsoever:

It’s obvious that the Google van drove by the address before the hotel was built. I’ve also checked out my dig in Jingumae, Shibuya on Google Earth. Suffice to say, you’ll see it on this blog when the Tokyo entries are done.

[1]All this talk about me and Mami-chan are all goss, yo. And hashtagged delusional.