Wandering Through Murakami's Japan

Wandering Through Murakami's Japan


Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, Hear the Wing Sing: these are some of many famous titles of Haruki Murakami, a renowned Japanese writer. His works, spanning novels, essays, and short stories, have been international best-sellers, translated into 50 languages and selling millions of copies worldwide. Here, we highlight areas in West Japan that evoke the emotions found in Murakami's novels or have even been featured in them.

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Kobe, Hyogo

Our journey begins in Kobe in Hyogo prefecture, Murakami's home city. Kobe, a pivotal port city for centuries, boasts a rich maritime heritage and a cosmopolitan cityscape. With its proximity to Osaka and Kyoto, Kobe offers a blend of stylish cafes, historical landmarks, and bustling port activities

Shukugawa, Hyogo

To be specific, Murakami lived in the Shukugawa area which he wrote about in A Walk to Kobe. Shukugawa Park in Hyogo bursts to life with vibrant cherry blossoms during spring, offering one of Japan’s finest hanami experiences. With over 1,600 cherry trees lining the park's 2.8-kilometer walk, visitors and locals flock to admire the pink blossoms and stroll along the scenic walking path.

Tonomine Highlands, Hyogo

Featured in various Japanese dramas and movies including “Norwegian Wood”, Tonomine Kogen, spans approximately 90 hectares of scenic highlands. Visitors can explore winding paths to admire the landscape up close or from a distance. In spring and summer, the area offers lush greenery and blooming flowers for leisurely strolls. In the autumn, enjoy the view of golden pampas grass waving in the wind. 

Murakami's writing style is heavily influenced by his love for music, often working while listening to classical, jazz, and rock. Previously owning a jazz bar in Tokyo, he frequently references favorite songs in his stories or titles. Experience the soothing sounds of jazz in Osaka to connect with Murakami's creative world.

Groovy Music Bar, Osaka
We could not believe a place that has such high google reviews from locals and visitors a like existed but reading them carefully, made us aware at how authentic the space is. It's true! The bar owner speaks English and they play vinyl such as jazz, soul, ska, and other genres. The decoration is carefully curated with posters, art, and stickers.

Takatsuki Jazz Festival, Osaka

The TJS (Takatsuki Jazz Festival) is a two-day jazz extravaganza featuring over 300 acts and 3,000 artists across 72 locations in and around Takatsuki City's central area. Enjoy live jazz in parks, cafes, or curbside, with options ranging from big bands to solo acts, catering to both traditionalists and new-wave enthusiasts. The TJS is an annual festival taking place usually in the first few days of May. It first started in 1999 and maintains this tradition of providing smooth tunes for visitors annually. 

Takamatsu, Kagawa

"Kafka on the Shore" takes place in Takamatsu, Kagawa, where the protagonist stumbles upon a private library that exists only in fiction. Yet, the town's tranquil and laid-back atmosphere resonates authentically. Take a stroll by the port and sea, while reflecting on your journey here and your journey to come. While visiting, be sure to try Sanuki udon, a beloved local specialty.