How to Japanese Podcast – S03E09 – Immediate Reactions to Murakami’s New Novel

Good God, that’s Murakami Haruki’s music!

街とその不確かな壁 (The City and Its Uncertain Walls/The Town and Its Uncertain Wall) launched today in Japan, and holy moly, it’s a wild one. I read the first two chapters and then rapped about it for 20 mins on the podcast in three sections: spoiler free, loose suggestions about content, and spoiler-palooza. Take a listen!

How to Japanese Podcast – S03E08 – Predictions for Murakami’s New Novel

It’s the final podcast before publication of the new Murakami novel! I go over some Murakami vocabulary, predictions I have for the novel, and some comments about potential connections with Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

Here are the links I mention:

  • Episode 1 of this season of the podcast, in which I go over everything I know about the novella, 街と、その不確かな壁.
  • My appearance on Translation Chat with Jenn O’Donnell about translation choices made in Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the Word
  • Japan Times article examining Murakami’s language choices in Killing Commendatore
  • Murakami vocabulary:
    • うんざり – unzari – tedious, frustrated
    • 覆う – ōu – cover
    • やれやれ – yareyare – what the hell, oh brother
    • 備わっている – sonawatte iru – gifted with, endowed with, has/have (certain abilities)
    • 惹かれる – hikareru – drawn by, pulled by
    • 引き出し・抽斗 – hikidashi – drawer
    • 流れ – nagare – flow
    • 歪む – yugamu – distort/warp
    • 歪な – ibitsu – misshapen, distorted, warped

How to Japanese Podcast – S03E07 – Murakami Bibliography – 2006-2023

This week is the third part of my look at Murakami’s complete bibliography. See my Google Sheet version of all this information and follow along with the podcast at this link:

How to Japanese Podcast – S03E05 – Murakami Bibliography – 1979-1987

This week on the podcast I’m taking a close look at Murakami’s complete bibliography for the first eight years of his career. See my Google Sheet version of all this information and follow along with the podcast at this link:

And here are links that I mention separated out by year:

How to Japanese Podcast – S03E04 – Murakami Novel Power Rankings

It’s finally time – here are my Murakami Novel Power Rankings! I spent the last two months re-reading Murakami’s novels, and I feel prepared to put them in order from least successful to most successful. Obviously this is a subjective exercise, but I would also argue that this is the correct order.

Even as recently as a year or two ago, I would have had my personal favorite Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World at the top of the list, so regular readers may be surprised to learn that it is not. Take a listen to see where I ranked it.

One thing that became clear to me while re-reading these novels is that the central dynamic in Murakami’s writing is immediacy vs controlled narration. He often puts the reader in the driver seat with the narrator, following them around during routines or waiting long periods of time for something to happen. I’ve noticed this a lot in genre fiction, which I think may partially explain why Murakami has a ravenous following and why many readers love books like Kafka on the Shore, which I would argue over rely on immediacy to generate reader interest.

Many readers are looking for that kind of experience, of following around a character having weird experiences. But I think there’s an exhaustion in this technique, which even Murakami himself recognizes. He has the instinct to vary this, even in his earliest novels; in Pinball, 1973 he alternates between the immediacy of the Rat’s experience struggling with life with more controlled narration of his Boku narrator’s implied grief for the loss of Naoko. Kafka also gets this alternating treatment as well as Hard-boiled Wonderland, and in both cases one half of the narrator is steeped in immediacy while the other has more controlled narration.

Given that Murakami is likely delivering an extension of Hard-boiled Wonderland next month, it will be very interesting to see what choices he makes with immediacy in the book and whether he decides to vary the narration as he did in 1985.

How to Japanese Podcast – S03E03 – Murakami’s Origin Story

This week, I take a look at Murakami’s famous origin story with the help of writer and translator Matt Schley. We looked at ten different accounts of the day that Murakami was inspired to become a writer:

Thanks again to Matt. Check out his translation of Soda Kazuhiro’s Why I Make Documentaries: On Observational Filmmaking available via Viaindustriae Publishing.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E19 – Jens Petersen – Japanese in Sweden, Music and Art, Job Fairs

Jens Petersen has been working in real estate in Tokyo for over 13 years. He initially found interest in Japanese independent music. In recent years his interest has also branched out into the art world. We spoke about learning Japanese, finding an immersive environment, and job hunting at job fairs.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E18 – 都道府県 and 貪る

There is an official order to the 都道府県 (todōfuken, prefectures) in Japan. I share some thoughts about it and in Japanese discuss the importance of learning how to really devour (貪る, musaboru) your Japanese studies.

This is a nice post with a close look at the numbering. Here is the official website for the 全国地方公共団体コード. And I previously wrote about the alphabet in Japanese.

How to Japanese Podcast – S02E17 – Molly Des Jardin – Japanese the Spoken Language, Meiji Era Writing, 全集

Molly Des Jardin is a language and computer nerd who came to study Japanese, and later book and media history of modern Japan. She quickly got sucked into both for the long term and enjoyed the ‘B-kyu’ adventures she got to have while working or studying in Fukuoka, Yokohama, and the least cool wards of Tokyo.

Courtesy of Molly, this is a photo of Ozaki Kōyō’s four-volume 紅葉集 (Kōyōshū), pub. Shun’yōdō (春陽堂) 1909 and how one who access the original text (in its original binding!).