To do some errands (a bit urgent), I went back to Japan for about 10 days. It was for the first time in 1 and a half years. Had Tokyo changed? Not a bit. It was the same Tokyo. It’s a commonplace to experience some kind of reverse culture shock after leaving your country for some time. However, I didn’t feel any dissonance except for the first day and readjusted myself rather quickly to the usual Tokyo life.
There is one place I’d always wanted to visit. It’s the Haruki Murakami Library on Waseda University campus (his alma mater). The library is designed by an internationally renowned architect Kengo Kuma and was opened only last year. And to make a tour inside, you need to get an appointment in a designated time slot. No worries, it is open to anybody!
Simply put, it was magnificent. I have read almost all of his works, but the experience of reflecting on what he has achieved as a writer and translator comprehensively was quite something. The library basically consists of 4 areas. One is devoted to presenting his entire oeuvre in a chronological order with dozens of translations. Another room is an audio room where you can either listen to music (Jazz mainly) or read his books while enjoying music. (This room was a bit too chic to me). There was also an exhibition room where “Literature and Jazz” happened to be going on. I saw the names of Oe and Nakagami there. Last, but not least, there is a café called ‘Orange Cat’ (Pop quiz: can you guess why it’s called ‘Orange Cat’?) You can devour tasty donuts (of course). The coffee there was excellent, too.
If you have a chance to go to Japan in the future, please do pop by this unique library. Lastly, I would like to share with you welcoming words by Murakami which you can find near the entrance.
“Just like Breathing” When I was in school, I never felt like I was a very good student. But some time after graduating from university, I came to realize just how much I enjoyed learning. Learning is really no different from breathing. […] I hope that this library will become a place of learning where you can breathe easy.