Easiest Murakami book in Japanese to begin with?

Hi everyone! How are you all doing?

I’ve been following along IBCPBC’s “コンビニ人間” and I’m having a total blast! I need to look up the club’s vocab sheet once, or a few times, almost on every page and I struggle where there’s too much going on at the same time. Taking it all in consideration, it demands a lot of my energy but it’s easier than I expected! <3

I plan on following more IBC / IBCPBC for the next couple of books but I also wanted to start to prepare myself to read a Murakami book. I’m a huge fan and have read already many of his books - not in Japanese.

I did my homework, searched the threads and also LearnNatively but I still couldn’t quite decide which one should I get to start with… I don’t mind reading a repeat book but I don’t want a kids-grade book.

On LN some are easier on level but longer page-count wise, while some are quite shorter but harder on LN’s level wise… so, which one (or ones), would you guys recommend me?

Thanks a lot! <3


This might be getting out of hand.


Maybe this one.



My take from scanning the Natively gradings that most of the adult novels aren’t too far apart difficulty wise. So pick one that seems interesting and isn’t too long. I started with スプートニクの恋人, which has the advantage of being a single volume.


I wished I could give you such a specific answer as to the reading difficulty.

I second this, go by interest more than anything. In the end, things will be out of reach to you @jordpuls and you will defo benefit from the dredge of it all, when you actually like what you’re reading. that’s more important than thinking about finding the perfect level - as far as I know, that you never find. ^^

Keeping motivation on top is really top priority from reading in a foreign language. So, only when you actually feel that something is out of reach, go for something much further down the apple branches, so to speak.



You’re quite right and also great point of looking into single volumes! :smiley:

I also quite agree with this, this motivated me too! :nerd_face:

So for now I’m planning into getting アフターダーク after a couple more book clubs!
(maybe, just maybe I’ll buy it earlier than I “should”)

Thank you! <3


As an appetizer, you could first try Murakami’s essay in the bilingual reader, Read Real Japanese Essays.

It’s a very short essay in comparison to the rest of the essays in the book, but I still found it useful as a way of getting familiar with his writing style even though it was a nonfiction piece. There was some overlap with the way he writes some characters in his novels.

Also you also could try his short story collections, like Men Without Women. The “Drive My Car” story in the collection, which is the basis for the movie, was the first story I read of his in Japanese and it was much easier than expected.

For novels, maybe try his earlier novels, like something from the Rat trilogy, like 羊をめぐる冒険 (known as the “Wild Sheep Chase” in English) which isn’t that long and I didn’t find it difficult (but I had read the English version many years before). You don’t need to read the others in the trilogy.

When Murakami first became popular in the West, it was through the English translations of Wild Sheep Chase, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (世界の終りとハードボイルド・ワンダーランド, and his short story collection The Elephant Vanishes (象の消滅). It was how I was first introduced to Murakami in English, and I was immediately captivated by his storytelling.

The later releases that followed, like Norwegian Wood (ノルウェイの森) and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (ねじまき鳥クロニクル) then really put Murakami on the map.

So you can follow a similar order if you want. Start with 羊をめぐる冒険 and 世界の終りとハードボイルド・ワンダーランド, or try one of his short story collections first.


アフターダーク、スプートニクの恋人、and ノルウェイの森 are all good stories, relatively short, relatively easy to read, and without the surreal weirdness that makes some of his books unique and captivating but also quite difficult. ノルウェイの森 was the first novel I made a real stab at reading in Japanese (that is: not just reading two pages and giving up) and I think it was a good choice.