Photo Credit: www.harukimurakami.com
For a long time Haruki Murakami, an internationally famous novelist was expected to win the Nobel Prize in literature. It is understandable because books written by Murakami have become a phenomenon. His works have been translated into many languages and almost all his works have been best sellers in many countries. However, even if he doesn’t win the prize this year or even never, it is certain that his works will remain as entertaining, enlightening and encouraging. His achievements let us rediscover the Japan we are too familiar with. The locations on this list are thought provoking towards how we see everyday life.
Inokashira Park – Tokyo
“We were sitting on a bench in Inokashira Park like always. The bench was Sumire’s favorite. In front of us was a large pond. There was no wind. Tree leaves on the surface of the water were floating like sticking there. Someone was making bonfire in somewhere in the distance. The air smelled of ending autumn and sound from far away could be heard strangely clear.” (Sputnik Sweetheart)
Inokashira Park encompasses a long and narrow pond with a variety of tall trees. Visitors can enjoy a different landscape every season; the cherry blossom trees at this park have been honored as one of the best cherry blossom viewing places in Japan. Elms provide shade in the summer and colorful deciduous trees amuse people in autumn. In winter, the pond is crowded with migrant water birds.
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Address: 1-18-31 Gotenyama, Musashino-shi, Tokyo
Access: 12 minute walk from Kichijoji Station
Website: Inokashira Park (Japanese)
Lake Saroma 100km Ultramarathon – Hokkaido
Photo Credit: saromanblue.jp
“Lake Saroma ultramarathon is held in June every year in Hokkaido where there is no rain spell in the month unlike other parts of Japan. Early summer is good in Hokkaido, but real summer is long way ahead for northern part of the land where Lake Saroma is located.” (What I speak when I speak about running)
Saroma Ultramarathon is annual 100km race along the southern shore of Lake Saroma. Murakami challenged more than 42 km and successfully finished in 1996. The course starts at Yubetsu-cho gymnasium, passes a rest station at 54.5km point, and the Wakka native flower garden in the last stop with only 20km of the race.
Lake Saroma Ultramarathon
Location: Yubetsu, Saroma, Tokoro, Hokkaido
Access: 4.5 hours by car from Shinchitose Airport to Yubetsu City
Date: Every June
Website: Saroma Ultramarathon (Japanese)
Jingu Stadium – Tokyo
“I suddenly thought I would write novels after I turned 29. Let me explain. It was in the afternoon I went to see the baseball match between Yakult and Hiroshima at Jingu Stadium. When I was lying on outfield seats, Hilton made a two-base hit. That was the moment I suddenly thought. I know. I will write novels.” (Far away from Cabbage Rolls)
Jingu Stadium is the home of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows baseball team. Murakami has been a fan of the team. The stadium also hosts college baseball and school kids soft baseball, etc.
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Address: 3-1 Kasumigaoka-machi, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
Access: 7 minute walk from Gaienmae station
Website: Jingu Stadium
Theater Museum at Waseda University – Tokyo
Photo Credit: www.waseda.jp
“I liked reading film scripts, so I went to the university’s Theater Museum like every day, to read film scripts of all ages and countries.” (Far From Cabbage Rolls)
Housing nearly 37,000 materials used for dramas and films, this museum functions as knowledge repository about theatrical play. The collections at the museum include four folios of Shakespeare’s complete works printed in 1685, masks used for Noh (Japanese musical drama), 19th century manuscripts used for kabuki plays and the oldest Japanese film projector. The building was modeled after the Fortune Theater in London from 16th century.
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Address: 1-6-1 Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
Access: 10 minute walk from Waseda Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Website: Theater Museum
Shinjuku Nakamura-ya Manna – Tokyo
“After giving three lectures at prep school, I headed for Shinjuku by train. I bought some books in Kinokuniya Bookstore and went to Nakamuraya. As I said the name of Komatsu at entrance, the waiter took me to a quiet table in the back.” (1Q84)
The seafood linguine that Tengo ordered back in 1984 isn’t on the menu anymore, A restaurant serving Western-influenced cuisine for decades will welcome you with a cozy atmosphere and quality service.
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Shinjuku Nakamura-ya Manna
Address: 3-26-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
Access: 2 minute walk from Shinjuku Station
Hours: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Website: Shinjuku Nakamura-ya Manna
Takarazuka Revue Company – Hyogo
Photo Credit: kageki.hankyu.co.jp
“Lewis and Cynthia were invited to Japan a year ago. The invite was from Takarazuka Revue Company as part of celebration of adapting “Great Gatzby”, which was written by Scott Fitzgerald who was Cynthia’s grandfather. I asked Lewis how their adaptation was and he said, “It was OK but a little bit strange.” Essay titled American Baby Boomers
The Takarazuka Revue is an all-female musical theater troupe sponsored by Hankyu Railway. Women play all types of roles in a lavish and Broadway-style production. There are Western-style musicals adaptations of films, manga, and folk tales.
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Takarazuka Grand Theater
Address: 1-1-57 Sakaemachi, Takarazuka city, Hyogo
Access: 10 minute walk from Takarazuka Station
Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
*Closed on Wednesdays
Website: Takarazuka Revue
Fujiya Hotel – Kanagawa
“Yuki and I didn’t do anything special. We went for drive listening to music, looked at clouds lying on the beach, ate ice cream at Fujiya Hotel and rode on a boat in the Lake Ashinoko.” (Dance Dance Dance)
Fujiya Hotel is a historic hotel that opened in the late 19th century. The building has a mixed style of traditional Japanese and western architecture. Many famous people have stayed here, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
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Address: 359 Miyanoshita, Hakonemachi, Ashigara Shimogun, Kanagawa Prefecture
Access: 7 minute walk from Miyanoshita Station
Website: Fujiya Hotel
Bundan Coffee Bar – Tokyo
Photo Credit: bundan.net
“I boiled water to peel the tomatoes from the fridge. I made tomato sauce with garlic and other vegetables that I had, adding tomato puree. I put Strasbourg sausage and simmered. In the meantime, I shredded cabbage and peppers to make a salad, made coffee with coffee maker, toasted French baguette after sprinkling some water on the surface.” (Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World)
This is a literature themed cafe that reproduces drinks and dishes that have appeared in literary works. “Last supper” from Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is included in on the breakfast menu.
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Address: 4-3-55 Komaba, Meguro Ward, Tokyo
Access: 10 minute walk from Komabatodaimae Station
Hours: 9:30 AM – 4:20 PM
Website: Bundan Coffee&Bar