Week 2: アンダーグラウンド

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Week 2


Start Date: Jun 01
Previous Part: Week 1
Next Part: Week 3


Week Start Date Chapter Start Page Page Count
Week 2 Jun 01 千代田線 Interviews 1-2 26 29

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
  • When asking for help, please mention the chapter and page number. Also mention what version of the book you are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarrassing at first. All of us are here to learn.
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I am very impressed by the strength of this woman. I‘m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to do the same in her situation…
For the contents, I had never thought about the fact that initially nobody knew what was going on… People just started coughing but there was no apparent reason, as (according to the second interview and also according to Wikipedia) Sarin doesn’t seem to have a distinctive smell to it. That also explains why the station personnel removed the bags without hesitation, I guess.
I didn’t know about the red scarf thing! That’s very interesting and makes a lot of sense, but it would probably not work in countries other than Japan as people are not used to be so cautious in traffic, is my guess :woman_shrugging:


Compared to the first interviewee, the second one felt much more passive and much more confused than the first one. Maybe this is partly due to the fact that he forgot so much and that his narration was much less vivid than the first one, but he seemed to wait a lot compared to the first woman who seemed to have been very active and to have told many people what to do and how to help others. Granted, given the situation I can totally relate to his confusion, but I wondered why Murakami put those two interviews next to each other… Makes me wonder what types of characters the next interviews will reveal.



  • My notes while I was reading:

Wondering if I’m the only one checking their itineraries (:

Such a long commute, three different lines changes!

Nice, I was hoping a bit that during the interviews the sentences would become shorter and the language easier :smiley:

Just learned 痴漢 on WK today!

  • Other comments:

Pretty much the same as Nicole! Felt pretty intense to read that unraveling as a first person point of view, actually emotionally wise I find it harder than 蛇にピアス, knowing than this is not fiction. Will go and read something lighter now and keep the second interview for another day :hot_face:



I loved the part about describing his job!
Agreed that the rest feels very blurry, but I guess that shows well, how confusing it must have been.

Already having mix feelings about the book. On one hand, finding it to be a pretty easy read, since it’s cut in so many interviews, it’s just like a collection of very short stories, and they are pretty fascinating so far. On the other hand, I am wondering if I will be able to read the whole thing, I find it a bit taxing emotionally, and it’s not like I can expect any happy ending, but let’s see. Maybe it’s a good idea to pace it weekly as the club does, and have some light and happy things to read in between.


Agreed! I generally think that Murakami writes in a way that is easy to read for language learners (ok if you ignore the unknown words in his more complex stories :melting_face: But as these interviews are mainly spoken language, I found them quite easy to follow. This book doesn’t really fit the typical expectation I have towards “nonfiction”…). Happy to see that this book is no exception.

After reading the second interview I realized the same - omg will I be able to read 800 pages of people suffering? :dizzy_face:

Full confession: I’m reading ahead as I am currently reading 3 books in parallel (one as my sauna book, one with a friend, and this one) and I don’t want to add yet another one just to be able to keep the schedule of this one… plus I’m planning to finish the whole thing in one go, and I don’t want to spend ages on it tbh. But I take notes right after each interview, which I will post here in their respective weeks.

So I must say after reading a number of the interviews I kind of got used to the tough parts, and I focused more on which parts the new interviewees also observed, and in which way - was there any difference? What did they see and what not? How does this all fit together in the end? - and so it turned into a bit of a puzzle which made it much more enjoyable.

I hope you can find enough happy things to fit between the interviews! Let me know if it is getting too tough for you, or how you feel about it next week.


To me, I would say that he put them in that order because of the continuity of the events, now we know more about the employees that the lady in the first interview saw and the story about the car and the handkerchief. Not reading too much into the fact that they had different personalities / behaviour.

Wait what, what is a sauna book? :laughing: Do I need a sauna to have a sauna book? :thinking:

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Maybe you would enjoy 阪急電車, it’s pretty much that, and same setting, people in a train and their different points of view, but no one dies :laughing: I keep telling myself that I should nominate it and keep forgetting, will try to get around it before the next vote…!


After reading a few more interviews, I fully agree with you. He really builds a nice continuation of the story and how we learn about new people and perspectives and so on.

Hmm, I guess you need one :rofl: In my case, I go to the (public) sauna regularly, and in the breaks between going into the sauna room (the real hot one), I like to read. And of course, I like to read in Japanese. But I cannot read on my phone in the sauna as they are banned (usually people are stark naked in the sauna in Germany, and so anything that is able to take pictures is banned), and as a result I need a book that I own as paperback and that’s easy enough for me to read without any lookups. Especially the latter is still a bit rare for me, that’s why I like to regard those books as special beasts.


Oh, thanks for the rec! This might be interesting for a change, a book where nobody dies :grin:

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