A Book Worm

ノルウェイの森 - 村上春樹










  • No.013
  • “Norwegian Wood” Haruki Murakami
    Kodansha Bunko
  • TUESDAY, 1st NOVEMBER, 2013 by Yoshiyuki Morioka

The couple meet on the Chuo line and get off at Yotsuya station. They have a mutual friend that they lost — the man, his best friend; the woman, her lover. They exit the station with no destination in mind and walk through Sotobori Park to Ichigaya, Iidabashi, and Jimbocho. Unspoken throughout the story is that they sense the lost character. Most people probably recall a certain cut from the book when they hear the best friend’s name Watanabe and the lover’s name Naoko.

When I first read the novel in the fall of 1994, I had walked the same course from Yotsuya station. I clearly remember when I sat down at a bench to read it, the scenery in the area felt like the novel’s stage from 60’s Tokyo, as if I had lived to see it. I was so sucked into the story.

The story begins with 37-year-old protagonist Watanabe recalling the 60’s when he was a college student. In 1994 I was very much like Watanabe as a college student, but I think I’m closer to the Watanabe I imagine in 2013. I can recall the things I’ve gotten and the things I’ve lost, or the past 20 years.

Now that I’m older, what can I see on that path? With Norwegian Wood in hand, I set out for a walk on it again the other day. Sotobori Park, especially between Yotsuya and Ichigaya, has not changed a bit. The colors of the cars on the Chuo line and the Sobu line running right beneath it have changed. I sat on the bench in Ichigaya and flipped through the pages and my eyes stopped on dialogues that never caught my attention in days gone past.

“My poor father. He worked so hard, got his own store, paid back his loans and ended up with nothing. It completely disappeared like a bubble.”
“You’re left,” I said.

The “store” in the dialogue refers to his “bookstore”.
I read these lines while looking out at the building across the shore from me and recalled the words, “Excellent literary works are mirrors reflecting the reader’s inner self.” Who had said them? On the first page of the book the words “for the many matsuri (festivals)” was printed. I now understand clearly the meaning of the matsuri resurgence.
If “you’re left”.