Friday, January 16, 2015

Murakami Advice Page Opened Today

As was reported by many sources around the world, the Haruki Murakami advice corner website, called "Murakami san no tokoro," opened today.  The address is: The site is illustrated by Masaru Fujimoto.

Under the トップ tab on the left is an explanation from Haruki Murakami about how he suddenly felt like getting in touch with his readers after almost a decade. He promises to glance at all the questions himself (rather than have an editor or assistant do it), but explains that since the site is open to everybody, he expects a lot of questions and will not be able to answer them all. He apologizes to readers who will be disappointed.

There is also a section called 質問はこちら [Have a question? Click here]. After clicking, we find a set of "house rules," which explain that all questions have to come belong to one of four categories. Here they are:

 In English they would be something like this:
1. Questions or advice I want to ask of Mr. Murakami
2. Something I want to tell Mr. Murakami
3. My favorite places, my least favorite places
4. [Things] related to cats or the Yakult Swallows [a professional baseball team]

There is also a limit of length: 1200 characters.
After reading the "House Rules," one can click on  質問を送る[send a question] and after filling in one's "pen name," age, gender, e-mail address, and occupation (not required) one can type in a question. The House Rules also warn that some of the questions and answers will appear on the webpage and may in the future be published, so readers have to be prepared that their "pen names," age, etc. will also be made public.

So how about asking a question?  The whole website is in Japanese.  One may guess that, since he knows English, Murakami may perhaps also consider answering a question asked in English, but that response may well be in Japanese. This does seem to be a unique opportunity to ask a famous writer a question. As far as I know, Murakami is one of very few writers -- perhaps even the only writer of his stature -- who engages in this kind of online exchange with readers.

Some people will no doubt dismiss the whole thing as a marketing trick, but I personally disagree.  It's hard to imagine that Haruki Murakami really needs to worry about getting more publicity: he has a huge number of faithful fans, after all.  At least at first glance (no questions have appeared yet), this website does seem to be exactly what he says it is, a chance to get in touch with readers and find out what is on their minds.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Haruki Murakami Will Respond to Readers Questions Online Starting on January 15

Once again, for the third time - as far as I know - Haruki Murakami will be responding directly to readers’ questions on a webpage, this one to be opened on January 15, as was announced by his publisher, Shinchosha, on January 5.

In the past Murakami has answered readers' questions, most famously on a page opened by Asahi Shinbun called "Murakami Asahido."  According to a January 6 article in Asahi Shinbun, Murakami felt that after a long break, he wanted to interact with readers again, and made a sudden decision to create the webpage, the first time he has done so in nine years.  The website will be called "Murakami-san no tokoro," or, "Mr. Murakami's Place."

This is the announcement on the Shinchosha site:

The web address has not been released yet, but the announcement makes it clear that the site will be open for a limited time starting "on the afternoon of January 15th." Under the announcement in Murakami's writing (or so we assume) it states: "I am waiting for your questions. Haru." It seems that the readers are encouraged to ask anything, about "their worries, etc."

According to a related article at, the spokesman for Shinchosha said that fans will have until the end of January to ask questions, and Murakami's responses will appear on the website during the following two months, until the end of March. 

In the past, Murakami's exchanges with readers have been published in four books, which are quite interesting and valuable for anyone hoping to get a glimpse of the real person behind the author, who provides answers to questions from people struggling with all kinds of personal problems or asking totally surreal things. Murakami never loses his cool and responds in a witty, kind, and caring way. Here are the covers of the books:


Perhaps this readers' forum will also lead to a similar publication in the future.