News about Murakami Haruki

芦屋市、公園のサルのオリを撤去へ 村上春樹さんデビュー作にも登場

Ashiya city to remove the monkey cage that appeared in Murakami Haruki's debut novel

Feb 9 Asahi Digital by 真常法彦; translated by Kieran Maynard


The Japanese city of Ashiya in Hyōgo Prefecture has decided to remove the monkey cage from Uchide Park. The cage is thought to have been the model for the "park with a monkey cage" that featured in Murakami Haruki's debut novel Listen to the Wind Sing (1979). Considering that Murakami fans sometimes come to visit, the city will reuse a part of the fence to create a monument that commemorates the monkeys.


The city held multiple meetings to hear from local residents, but ultimately most were of the opinion that there was no choice but to remove the monkey cage. A representative from the city's roads and parks division said, "The removal of the cage is necessary for the renovation of the park. We plan to improve the park such that it will continue to be loved by the community and Murakami fans alike."


The park will be closed in June or July and the monkey cage will be removed. The monument will display the name and rules of the park, as well as information about the history of the monkey cage and its connection to Murakami's work.


The city will budget 396 million yen for the renovation of the adjacent Uchide Education and Culture Center, of which 82 million (US$611k) is included for the removal of the cage and construction of the monument.

Comments: The whole story is very meta, like something that would appear in a Murakami work. It's like "The Elephant Vanishes" meets "Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey."

Murakami's debut novel was one of the first I read cover to cover in Japanese, painstakingly with a dictionary, in 2011. I learned the words for "cage" and "installment payments" from that passage (where the narrator and Nezumi crash their car into the cage). So I'm sad to hear the monkeys will go. Sentimental and biased, yes, but Murakami's literary world is sentimental and biased. I wouldn't be surprised if Murakami himself is following this story. Maybe the monkeys will make another appearance in a Murakami novel after 44 years.