Booze Bus

Year 1: BoobsThe WindBaseballLederhosenEels, Monkeys, and Doves
Year 2: Hotel Lobby OystersCondomsSpinning Around and Around街・町The Town and Its Uncertain WallA Short Piece on the Elephant that Crushes Heineken Cans
Year 3: “The Town and Its Uncertain Wall” – Words and WeirsThe LibraryOld DreamsSaying GoodbyeLastly
Year 4: More DrawersPhone CallsMetaphorsEight-year-olds, dudeUshikawaLast Line
Year 5: Jurassic SapporoGerry MulliganAll Growns UpDanceMountain Climbing
Year 6: Sex With Fat WomenCoffee With the ColonelThe LibrarianOld ManWatermelons
Year 7: WarmthRebirthWastelandHard-onsSeventeenEmbrace
Year 8: PigeonEditsMagazinesAwkwardnessBack Issues
Year 9: WaterSnæfellsnesCannonballDistant Drumming
Year 10: VermontersWandering and BelongingPeter Cat, Sushi Counter, Murakami Fucks First
Year 11: Embers, Escape, Window Seats, The End of the World
Year 12: Distant Drums, Exhaustion, Kiss, Lack of Pretense, Rotemburo
Year 13: Murakami Preparedness, Pacing Norwegian Wood, Character Studies and Murakami’s Financial Situation, Mental Retreat, Writing is Hard
Year 14: Prostitutes and Novelists, Villa Tre Colli and Norwegian Wood, Surge of Death, On the Road to Meta, Unbelievable
Year 15: Baseball on TV, Kindness, Murakami in the Asahi Shimbun – 日記から – 1982, The Mythology of 1981, Winning and Losing
Year 16: The Closet Massacre

Week Two in Murakami Fest 2023. The next chapter is a bit more substantial, as suggested by the longer title “Going to Crete from Mykonos / The Bathtub Battle / The Light and Dark of the Route 101 Booze Bus” (ミコノスからクレタ島に行く・バスタブをめぐる攻防・酒盛りバス101号の光と影).

It’s just after Easter in Athens. Prime Minister Nakasone is meeting with Reagan. There’s 137 yen to the dollar. Murakami watches Platoon in a movie theater. They head back to Mykonos and stay with Vangelis again, who is glad to see the Murakamis and thrilled that they brought shoes for his grandchild.

Unfortunately, the weather, which was beautiful and perhaps unseasonably warm in Athens, has gotten cold, so they can’t take advantage of the beaches. They are even unable to escape to Crete: The wind grounds planes for the next few days, necessitating a frustrating back and forth between the airport and the hotel due to the lack of information readily available about when the next flight will leave. On the fourth day they finally make it out.

The hotel in Crete is under construction, so unfortunately the bathtub they went out of their way to ensure they would have is rendered useless: There’s no hot water until their final day at the hotel. Murakami goes through a long description of his conversation with the hotel worker and the delays.

While there, they take a bus to the beach where backpackers are kind of wandering around since it’s too cold to actually swim. The bus ride back, however, is eventful. The driver and conductor make a stops at two small villages, acquiring a large bottle of wine and a wheel of cheese. A Greek woman asks the driver if he’s been drinking. He laughs and says he’s been drinking water before encouraging the woman to try some wine. It isn’t long before the conductor is wielding a sharp knife on the bumpy road, distributing cheese and wine to the passengers. Murakami says it’s the best wine and cheese he’s had on the trip, and fortunately they make it to their destination without any issue.

But this isn’t the only encounter with Bus 101. They happen to ride with the same driver, different conductor, a couple days later:

So, the premonition I’d had at the time about the Route 101 party bus ended up being right on the money. While the bus was running, the luggage compartment opened—the conductor hadn’t shut it securely—and two pieces of passenger luggage inside tumbled out onto the road. The bus was going around 100 km/h, and neither the driver nor the conductor realized they’d fallen out, but luckily a backpacker sitting in the back row noticed and yelled out and the bus managed to stop. Then we backed up to collect the fallen luggage. This is probably when I should write “Well that’s nice” or something, but it actually wasn’t nice at all. That’s because those two pieces of luggage were both our luggage. One was a large Millet backpack I carried and the other was my wife’s nylon bag. We got out of the bus to inspect the damage, and the Millet had a hole in it from where it had hit the ground. Of course, I complained to the conductor, but would my complaints result in anything? Of course not. Language would just fruitlessly move the air around. They could barely understand English. There wasn’t anything I could do, so I showed the conductor the hole in the backpack. And then using my body language, here’s what I told him: What the hell are you going to do about this? Look at this hole. The conductor shrugged and spread out his hands. Then he pointed to the door. Look, the door opened up. Come on, man, you don’t have to tell me that. It’s your fault that it opened. You do understand that it’s your fault, I yelled in English and French and Japanese. (When I get angry people can understand my Japanese.) But no matter what I did it was a waste of time. It was like asking an Irish elk I’d run into on the road for directions in Spanish. “Excuse me, Mr. Elk. Where’s the entrance to the forest?” Everything I did and said would be useless. Asking the elk for directions in the first place was a mistake. I wanted to say something but just inhaled and let it out the breath. I shook my head in vain. The conductor shook his head in the same way. Then he patted me on the shoulder as if to say, what a disaster.


This is the “shadow” from the title of the chapter. A bit of a long and winding chapter but very entertaining. It’s always a pleasure to be on the road with Murakami.