For a long while now I have longed to visit Japan. A pilgrimage of sorts to the land of Murakami, to not only where he lives and breathes, but to the country where his characters fall in love, feel lonely, talk to cats, get lost, and receive unexpected phone calls.
My first stop (of course) would be to Kinokuniya Books in Shinjuku, to browse the very shelves that he browsed. To buy a note-pad and a pen as he did that very first fateful day:
“When I thought about sitting down at my desk at home and setting out to write I realized I didn’t even own a decent fountain pen. So I went to the Kinokuniya store in Shinjuku and bought a sheaf of manuscript paper and a five-dollar Sailor fountain pen. A small capital investment on my part.
This was in the spring of 1978, and by fall I’d finished a two-hundred-page work handwritten on Japanese manuscript paper.”
– What I talk About When I Talk About Running
Originally a two story store that also was home to an art gallery, at seven stories, Kinokuniya bookstore is larger than any bookstore I have ever been in. Although the large corporate bookstores are slowly shutting down in New Zealand, there is still a steadfast number of independent bookstores. While I love them and visit often, they are tiny. Nothing like this. If I can get lost in a tiny bookstore for an hour, imagine how lost I could get in this one.