Peter cat II : ピーターキャットⅡ

Peter Cat Ⅰ
ODAKANE Fuji

In 1977, Haruki and Yōko moved the club to a central downtown location.

Mouseover for the image of the place of former Prince Villa where Haruki and Yōko lived.

In 1977, they moved the club to a central downtown location. There they played the cat theme for all it was worth: a large, smiling Cheshire cat face outside, cat figurines on all the tables and on the piano, cat photos and paintings on the walls, pussy willow branches in a cat-motif vase, and matches, coasters, chopstick wrappers, and even coat-hangers bearing cat designs.

Murakami said, “When I was a student, I had a vague feeling that I wanted to write something, but I never did anything about it and I never thought about it while I was running my business – listening to jazz from morning to night, making cocktails and sandwiches. Every day I had to chop up whole bagful of onions. Thanks to this experience, I can still cut up an onion without shedding tears.”

“But then suddenly one day in April 1978, I felt like writing a novel. I remember the day clearly. I was at baseball game that afternoon, in the outfield stands, drinking beer. The stadium was a ten-minute walk from my apartment. My favorite team was the Yakult Swallows. They were playing the Hiroshima Carps. The Swallows’ first batter in the bottom of the first inning was an American, Dave Hilton. You’ve probably never heard of him. He never made a name for himself in the States, so he came to play ball in Japan. I’m pretty sure he was the leading hitter that year. Anyhow, he sent the first ball pitched to him that day into left field for a double. And that’s when the idea struck me: I could write a novel.”
“It was like a revelation, something out of the blue. There was no reason for it, no way to explain it. It was just an idea that came to me, just a thought. I could do it. The time had come for me to do it,” he said.

Start-up

Peter Cat Ⅰ
ODAKANE Fuji

Suddenly one day in April 1978, Haruki felt like writing a novel. He remembers the day clearly. He was at baseball game that afternoon, in the outfield stands, drinking beer.

Mouseover for the image of Sendagaya Post Office from where Haruki sent his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing to Gunzō magazine.

“The most time I could ever squeeze out of a day was an hour or, at the most, two. This is the reason my first novel has short sentences and chapters. It’s true that at the time I was fond of Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and it was from them that I learned about this kind of simple, swift-paced style, but the main reason for the style of my first novel is that I simply did not have time to write sustained prose,” Murakami said.

When he finished Hear the Wind Sing and sent it to Gunzō magazine, Murakami had satisfied the strange impulse that had come to him in ballpark and might never have written again. Winning the prize changed everything – though not at first. In 1980, aged 31, he was still the owner of a jazz club who happened to have written well-received first novel. But the prize encouraged him to try again. He still had to write at the kitchen table after long hours at the club, and it did not always go well.

In1981 Haruki and Yōko sold their jazz club so that he could become a full-time writer. He was 32. The business was doing well and he still enjoyed work, but after the success of his first two novels he wanted to be able to write without having a mountain of onions to dice. The time had come to switch from the kitchen table to a proper desk.

—ODAKANE Fuji

Feature Story

  • Odakane, Fuji for Cool Japan Illustrated

    Peter cat I : ピーターキャットⅠ

    Murakami didn't feel like going work for a company and becoming a salary man after graduating from university. He said, "About the only thing I could actually imagine doing through was running a jazz club. I like jazz and wanted to do something that was connected with it in some way."

Ideas

    Peter Cat Ⅱ
  • Peter cat Ⅱ : ピーターキャットⅡ

    Mouseover for the image of the interior: He had make carpenter this big table for unbelievable ¥20,000 (about $200). Sometimes he enjoys the films of Marx Brothers on the screen hanging on the brick wall at the back.
  • Murakami and Peter Cat appeared in the December 1980 issue of Brutus, a well-respected magazine published by Magazine House.

    It said:
    In his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, Murakami Haruki (age 31) set in a bar named J’s Bar where impressive dialog took place among the protagonists. The Bar appeared again in his second novel, Pinball 1973. “There’s no model for J’s Bar,” Murakami said, “I wish there were one like that.”

    Peter Cat Ⅱ
    At this nook, he reads books, proofreads his manuscripts, and sometimes plays chess with his friends. He floored the nook with bricks by himself.
    Mouseover: He lines up cat figurines on the piano, and original paintings of Sasaki Maki painted for the book cover for Pinball 1973 are on the walls.

    Became known as a novelist, he actually is the owner of jazz club named “Peter Cat” in Yoyogi, Tokyo. He made his bar totally on his taste. He went around antique shops and selected tables of his choice.

    So each table differs in size and shape. There’s also a nice bar counter, where he sips whiskey after closing the bar.

    It’s nothing more than sheer bliss. Listening to favorite disks in background from his 3,000 record collections, surrounded by favorite furniture in the tranquility of the closed bar, he spends time in the lap of luxury.

Translation: ODAKANE Fuji