Hear the music of 1Q84 Book I

To begin with It’s only a Paper Moon is the overall theme of 1Q84. The book I am  currently reading for the third time.

Murakami Haruki is referring to music in his stories very often, which makes them all the more fun to read. So I wanted to hear the song he is mentioning in the novel and this is what I have found. There are many versions of the Paper Moon song, but these are the best on YouTube in my opinion. It’s a good way to start with to get in the mood of reading the 1ooo pages of this multi-faceted novel. The first version is not only instrumental, but the singing starts about a minute from the beginning. The pictures are so cute. The Japanese singer Saori Yuki 由紀さおり is singing the other version.

The first chapter of 1Q84 begins with the introduction of Aomame, the female main character of the book. She is sitting in a taxi stuck in a traffic jam on a highway in Tokyo on her way to an important date.

The radio plays Sinfonietta by Leoš Janáček of 1926. You should hear this and read the first chapter. It is a perfect, grandiose background music of the appearance of this strong woman.

More about the book itself, when I have finished reading the book One, which can probably last a while. Meanwhile I am enjoying the music! I hope you too.

Readings in August

I am surprised, that the visitors of Japan Kaleidoskop preferred reading exactly the same posts about Japanese books as in June and in July 2015. I skipped writing about it in July for this reason, because I thought, it was a little redundant.

I guess it has something to do with algorithm and how often something is mentioned on the blog and not really only about taste in Japanese Literature. Maybe it has also something to do with fewer postings on my blog about Japanese books in the summer. Never the less I am currently reading ‘Geisha in Rivalry’ by Nagai Kafû. And the next post will be about this exciting book.

In August people also liked to read posts about Naomi and the Makioka Sisters of Tanizaki Jun’ichirô and of course Yukiguni by Kawabata Yasunari. And least about  All she was worth by Miyabe Miyuki,  who is a well-known contemporary author and I think quite interesting.

What did I learn from the statistics then? Most of my visitors came from the United States, the Philippines and from Japan. Thank you very much!

Most often visited was the lovely picture of  Katsushika Oi.



Readings in June

In June readers of Japan Kaleidoskop were mostly interested in Japanese Literature and again the book reviews:

1. Most of my visitors read the book review of Men Without Women by Murakami Haruki as in May 2015. So this title is on the first place again due to the popularity of the author’s latest book.

2. On the second place there is a surprise: It is Thousand Cranes by Kawabata Yasunari. The title has been searched for several times in this month, but never before June. In the past many visitors were looking for Yukiguni by Kawabata instead. But it is still the same author on the second place. Kawabata Yasunari was born in June 11, 1899 in Ôsaka.

3. The third most read book review on this blog was Seven Japanese Tales by Tanizaki Jun’ichirô. One of my personal favorite Japanese author.

Although most of the search terms are not visible anymore, there were some, which gave me a hint, of what my visitors were looking for.

I liked the search term: “courtesan reading poet ono no komachi biography” very much. It is an ukiyo e by Kikugawa Eizan 菊川 英山 (1787 – 1867) chosen for this blog’s Art on Tuesday series on November 14, 2014.



Book Review: After Dark by Murakami Haruki

13640447“It’s true, though: time moves in its own special way in the middle of the night.”

After Dark is a short novel by Murakami Haruki published in 2004.

The story is told from an alternating perspective, scenes are changing movie like, the story is written in a screenplay style.

What happens? It is not clear.

Things belong to the darkness. Everything happens during one single night.

The intro scene is playing in a diner restaurant. Mari, a Japanese girl is sitting alone at a table reading a book. Other single customers are around with their laptops, cellphones, some guests are just staring.

The door opens. A woman comes in, looking around, then walking straight towards Mari and picking her up. You do not know why.

Then the scene changes to a love hotel, where a Chinese prostitute was hurt by a customer, who had fled the building. Mari was the only person available to help interpreting from Chinese to Japanese, therefore she was chosen. So Mari and the hotel staff eventually could help the girl escape the situation.

Murakami introduces a parallel nightmarish story about Mari’s sister Eri. She is sleeping and at the same time awake. Eri had realized that she is trapped in a room with no doors, and she is trying to escape this situation by sleeping. “… let me get to sleep again! she pleads. If only I could fall sound asleep and wake up in my old reality! This is the one way Eri can now imagine escaping from the room.”

Back from the love hotel incident Mari meets a boy named Takahashi at the diner. And covered by the night, they begin to talk about their lives and inner feelings, Takahashi reveals he had an affair with Eri some time ago. And Mari is worried about her own relationship with Eri, which became very difficult lately. As the two sisters are very different they became estranged from each other. Their lives are so contrary, there is little tolerance for each other, therefore a huge gap is all there is left – they are not talking to each other anymore. Mari is hurt, but there seems no way out for her, because she cannot reach Eri anymore.

Mari is talking with Takahashi about Eri and slightly things begin to change. In the end there is hope for a small path to Eri.

Some parts of the story are kafkaesk. The scenes are loosely knit together and told from alternating perspectives. Murakami walks us from a lonely diner table, through the dark aisles of a love hotel, into a nightmarish situation of a closed room, then back to the diner. And now talking to each other, getting to know each other’s secrets and inner feelings, maybe something lightens up as it becomes morning again.

You do not know exactly. And you do not have to. It is in between two days. Things change. That is After Dark.

村上 春樹. アフターダーク, 2004. After Dark by Murakami Haruki. translated by Jay Rubin, 2007.

Readings in May

I began to look more at my statistics and think it is interesting to think about what my visitors are looking for and what they actually read and like. In May people visiting Japan Kaleidoskop were mostly interested in the book reviews. Here are the top three:

1. Men without Women by Murakami Haruki. I guess it is because it is the newest book of Murakami, that people look it up often. Many visitors come to this post via search engines.

2. Snow Country  by Kawabata Yasunari is on the second place and is searched for very often during the last months. Interesting, that most people are looking for it in Japanese as Yukiguni. It seems to be an all time favorite.

3. Diary of a Mad Old Man by Tanizaki Jun’ichirô is the latest book review on Japan Kaleidoskop and was of a certain interest.

My favorite search term was “japanese scroll with geisha girl with umbrella in the winter”

I think,  it looks like this: