Haruki Murakami Announces an Archive That Will House His Manuscripts, Letters & Collection of 10,000+ Vinyl Records

Image by wakari­m­a­sita, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

It has become the norm for notable writ­ers to bequeath doc­u­ments relat­ed to their work, and even their per­son­al cor­re­spon­dence, to an insti­tu­tion that promis­es to main­tain it all, in per­pe­tu­ity, in an archive open to schol­ars. Often the insti­tu­tion is locat­ed at a uni­ver­si­ty to which the writer has some con­nec­tion, and the case of the Haru­ki Muraka­mi Library at Toky­o’s Wase­da Uni­ver­si­ty is no excep­tion: Muraka­mi grad­u­at­ed from Wase­da in 1975, and a dozen years lat­er used it as a set­ting in his break­through nov­el Nor­we­gian Wood.

That book’s por­tray­al of Wase­da betrays a some­what dim view of the place, but Muraka­mi looks much more kind­ly on his alma mater now than he did then: he must, since he plans to entrust it with not just all his papers but his beloved record col­lec­tion as well. If you want­ed to see that col­lec­tion today, you’d have to vis­it him at home. “I exchanged my shoes for slip­pers, and Muraka­mi took me upstairs to his office,” writes Sam Ander­son, hav­ing done just that for a 2011 New York Times Mag­a­zine pro­file of the writer. “This is also, not coin­ci­den­tal­ly, the home of his vast record col­lec­tion. (He guess­es that he has around 10,000 but says he’s too scared to count.)”

Hav­ing announced the plans for Waseda’s Muraka­mi Library at the end of last year, Muraka­mi can now rest assured that the count­ing will be left to the archivists. He hopes, he said at a rare press con­fer­ence, “to cre­ate a space that func­tions as a study where my record col­lec­tion and books are stored.” In his own space now, he explained, he has “a col­lec­tion of records, audio equip­ment and some books. The idea is to cre­ate an atmos­phere like that, not to cre­ate a repli­ca of my study.” Some of Murakami’s stat­ed moti­va­tion to estab­lish the library comes out of con­vic­tions about the impor­tance of “a place of open inter­na­tion­al exchanges for lit­er­a­ture and cul­ture” and “an alter­na­tive place that you can drop by.” And some of it, of course, comes out of prac­ti­cal­i­ty: “After near­ly 40 years of writ­ing, there is hard­ly any space to put the doc­u­ments such as man­u­scripts and relat­ed arti­cles, whether at my home or at my office.”

“I also have no chil­dren to take care of them,” Muraka­mi added, “and I didn’t want those resources to be scat­tered and lost when I die.” Few of his count­less read­ers around the world can imag­ine that day com­ing any time soon, turn 70 though Muraka­mi did last month, but many are no doubt mak­ing plans even now for a trip to the Wase­da cam­pus to see what shape the Muraka­mi Library takes dur­ing the writer’s life­time, espe­cial­ly since he plans to take an active role in what goes on there. “Muraka­mi is also hop­ing to orga­nize a con­cert fea­tur­ing his col­lec­tion of vinyl records,” notes The Vinyl Fac­to­ry’s Gabriela Helfet. Until he does, you can have a lis­ten to the playlists, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, of 96 songs from his nov­els and 3,350 from his record col­lec­tion — but you’ll have to recre­ate the atmos­phere of his study your­self for now.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A 3,350-Song Playlist of Music from Haru­ki Murakami’s Per­son­al Record Col­lec­tion

A 96-Song Playlist of Music in Haru­ki Murakami’s Nov­els: Miles Davis, Glenn Gould, the Beach Boys & More

A 26-Hour Playlist Fea­tur­ing Music from Haru­ki Murakami’s Lat­est Nov­el, Killing Com­menda­tore

Stream Big Playlists of Music from Haru­ki Murakami’s Per­son­al Vinyl Col­lec­tion and His Strange Lit­er­ary Worlds

Haru­ki Murakami’s Pas­sion for Jazz: Dis­cov­er the Novelist’s Jazz Playlist, Jazz Essay & Jazz Bar

Haru­ki Muraka­mi Became a DJ on a Japan­ese Radio Sta­tion for One Night: Hear the Music He Played for Delight­ed Lis­ten­ers

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.