In 2015, Haruki Murakami took the unexpected step of rereleasing in English his earliest novels, "Hear the Wind Sing" (1979) and "Pinball, 1973" (1980) — written while he was still managing a jazz bar — accompanied with a curious introduction.

In it, Murakami recalled a moment in April 1978 when he was sitting on a grass slope at Jingu Stadium, drinking a cool beer and watching a baseball match between the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and Hiroshima Carp. At the exact moment the batter sweetly struck "a clean double" — in a moment of Zen enlightenment — Murakami suddenly realized, "I think I can write a novel."

Should we consider this scene to be a quintessentially Murakami-esque creation? We would be dismissive to do so, for the baseball anecdote connects to a far deeper vein of interconnection with baseball in Japanese literary history. A starter's lineup of important Japanese writers have announced their arrival to the sound of a baseball being struck satisfyingly high into the air.