Waseda University aims to be a hub of literature research from all over the globe. The new library will also be a place where researchers and students from abroad can meet.
The Haruki Murakami Library, designed by Kengo Kuma (Japan’s starchitect), is dedicated to the work of the famous novelist. The Waseda International House of Literature is expected to house approximately 10,000 items. This includes books, music records, and personal articles that Murakami has donated or loaned to the facility.
This is a preview of the new library, officially opened to the public on October 1 ↓
It is located on Waseda University’s main campus, where Murakami studied theater in his youth. He studied drama and not literature. Murakami didn’t write his first novel until he was 29 years old, when he had long since moved to Waseda.
“I hope it becomes a hub where new forms of culture are developed,” Murakami said at a press conference at the university on Wednesday.
The facility is a combination of Murakami’s passions. It features a student-run coffee shop that serves custom-made coffee to Murakami’s taste, as well as a listening room where people can listen and purchase valuable records from Murakami’s collection.
Orange Cat Cafe is named after Murakami’s first venture, Peter Cat. It was a coffeehouse and jazz bar Murakami owned until he became a full-time author.
Kuma imagined a place where everyone, even Murakami, could meet to discuss Murakami’s work and the future literature. Kuma designed an arched wooden bookcase for the B1 level of the facility, located next to the Orange Cat Cafe.
You can also see a replica of Murakami’s current study on the same floor, where Murakami spends most of his writing time. Although the study is not always open to the public, you can view the layout from the outside and see more of the author’s vinyl records.
You can dive into Murakami’s music in the first-floor auditorium. Here, a playlist of Murakami’s favorite tracks is played on a Luxman turntable with state-of-the-art speakers.The gallery is located next to the audio room. It contains approximately 1,400 Murakami books, many of them first editions.
The Waseda International House of Literature also has a gallery, a laboratory, and an exhibition space on the second floor. The current exhibition, entitled ‘Literature in Architecture’ and is open until February 4.
You will need to book a time slot in advance to visit the library. On the official website of Waseda University, reservations are accepted.For now, visitors can only be from Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Saitama prefectures to limit crowding. Reservations are subject to the availability maximum of 30 guests per session. Except for the session at 12noon-1pm, each session lasts 90 minutes.
If you are a superfan of Murakami, then it is worth visiting the nearby Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum because Murakami used to visit the museum as a student, where he would pour over screenplays.