Haruki Murakami is by far the most popular Japanese author alive, and yet he’s remarkably private. He’s famously reclusive and resistant to fame. He’s been married to Yoko Murakami since 1971, and she’s always been his first reader. He prefers that routine over having a circle of professional writing friends, citing his lifelong shyness.
There are scraps of his life available, though, for the curious fans out there. Here are some of the most interesting things I’ve learned about Haruki Murakami.
1. He ran a jazz bar in the 70s with his wife.
Image Via The Paris Review
Called Peter Cat, Murakami and his wife ran the bar from 1974 to 1981. He was pretty steeped in the day-to-day of the bar during that time, and didn’t write fiction at all, nor had he written any prior, which leads me to the fact that…
2. He only started writing fiction at 29.
He went to a baseball game and saw a player hit a double. It’s not really that impressive a play. It’s definitely good for that player’s team, but it’s not actually that remarkable. Still, it inspired a young Murakami to believe that he could write a novel. A few months later, he had a draft of his first novel Hear the Wind Sing.
3. He is an insanely accomplished runner.
Image Via The Guardian
Also starting relatively late, Murakami began his famed love affair with running when he was thirty-three. Since then, he’s run marathons, triathlons, and ultramarathons. Ultramarathons are any races longer than 26.2 miles. He runs or swims long distances almost every day, and titled his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
4. He loves detective stories.
The first English-language book he read (he taught himself English, by the way) was called The Name is Archer by crime writer Ross Macdonald.
5. He’s won basically every Japanese literary award.
This includes the highly prestigious Yomiuri Prize, which Murakami won in 1995 for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. The recipient wins 2 million yen (about $18,000) and an inkstone, which is used for grinding one’s own ink. Personally, I’d just take the inkstone—that thing sounds awesome.
6. He falls asleep at 9pm and wakes up at 4am, without an alarm.
Considering everything, it’s just not at all surprising.
7. He loves ironing.
As in clothing.
Feature Image Via Financial Tribune