With a new facility that pays tribute to internationally acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami, Waseda University is aiming to establish a new hub for literature and culture.
The university will open the Waseda International House of Literature, nicknamed the Haruki Murakami Library, on Oct. 1 at its campus in Tokyo.
During a news conference to introduce the facility, Murakami, a graduate of the prestigious university, expressed hope that “the library will become a new place (for students) to convey culture.”
It’s important for students to learn from professors, he said, but he also wants them to use the facility “to pitch their ideas and actually start something concrete.”
“To be honest, it would probably be better to create a facility like this after I’m dead. Then someone else would take care of everything while I could just rest in peace,” he joked.
As long as he is alive, however, Murakami said he would do as much as he could to help create an environment that matches his expectations.
The facility, a five-story building redesigned and renovated by award-winning architect Kengo Kuma, features Murakami works donated by the author, as well as documents related to his work. The facility is expected to promote communication among researchers specializing in topics related to Murakami, as well as facilitate research on one of Murakami’s passions: translation.
The library also hosts a cafe and a space that replicates Murakami’s own workspace.
From the main entrance, a tunnel-like atrium that connects the basement to the second floor welcomes visitors. Kuma said the tunnel symbolizes his image of Murakami’s works, whose stories transports readers to different worlds.
The new facility is financially supported by Fast Retailing Co. Chairman Tadashi Yanai, who is also a Waseda graduate and who enrolled the same year as Murakami.
“What I am worried about most these days is that Japan has lost its ability to promote not just its literature but also its culture … to the world,” said Yanai.
He also said Fast Retailing, which owns the Uniqlo apparel brand, runs businesses all over the world, but the influence of Japanese culture is very weak.
“Despite that, Mr. Murakami’s books are very popular everywhere,” Yanai said. He added he hopes that the new facility will help spread Japanese culture more widely.
The library is open to the public but until April, visitors need to make a reservation in advance due to the pandemic.
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