Holy Rollers

The June newsletter is up over at Substack. I wrote about 聖地巡礼 (seichi junrei), a word that means “pilgrimage of holy sites” which has been largely taken over by anime fans visiting places used in various anime. So “holy” sites, as it were. I feel like this phrase along with the word 推し活 (oshikatsu) has entered the wider lexicon and can be seen just about anywhere, even on the side of a bag of potato chips:

A bag of potato chips with a label おかしな推し活 (snack oshikatsu) in the corner.

Other than my walk around Ashiya last month, which I wrote about in the newsletter, I haven’t done much Murakami 聖地巡礼. I’ve checked out the Murakami Library on Waseda’s campus, but I still haven’t seen Wakeijuku, the dorm that Murakami immortalized in Norwegian Wood. (In a past life, I had the opportunity to live there but didn’t know how to make it happen…alas. Although, from what I’ve heard, that might be for the best. I ended up in a quiet room to myself out in Edogawa-ku rather than a rowdy dorm.) This is the blog post I based my walk on. It’s much more thorough. I’m sure there are some similar posts for Tokyo out there!

I’d argue that the National Diet Library plays the same role as a 聖地 for me given how closely connected it is to Murakami’s works. It’s not featured in any of Murakami’s writing, nor has he ever written about going there himself, but it played the same role that I mention in the newsletter: It created movement and action, leading to Japanese study. Manufacturing some reason to go to the National Diet Library to research is, I’d argue, an excellent way to force yourself to do some research and study. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone spending two weeks in Japan, but if you’re here for a semester or two, or living in Tokyo for several years, then you must go visit. There’s so much you can access.

I talked more about this on the podcast. Give it a listen here: