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.

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