Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

ryu_thumb.jpgRyu Murakami is one of Neoteny's advisory board members, the author of "Coin Locker Babies" and won the Akutagawa award for "Almost Transparent Blue". He visited our office today. In "In Coin Locker Babies" he wrote about two boys who are abandoned in coin lockers and grow up and gassed Tokyo. (This is before the Ohm Shinrikyo subway event.) His last book "Exodus in the Hopeful Country" is about junior high school students who help cause a revolution in Japan with the help of the Internet. We talked quite a bit before he wrote this book and that discussion along with his discussions with other people before he wrote the book also became a book...
Internal Exodus
Novelist Murakami Ryu sees a dim future

The year is 2001. A CNN news crew in northern Pakistan finds a Japanese teenager in the midst of a band of Muslim guerrillas. In a TV interview, he declares: "There is nothing in Japan. It is a dead country." His words strike a chord with Japanese children his age. Across the country, middle-schoolers stop attending classes. They organize across the Internet, form a video image distribution agency named Asunaro that beams their message across the world, and start a variety of new businesses. Summoned to Parliament, the youngsters' leader tells stunned adults that Japan has everything but hope. Meanwhile, the yen collapses and the nation slips to the brink of bankruptcy. Asunaro moves to the northern island of Hokkaido where the kids establish an independent state.

One of the leaders is named "Joichi". ;-) So we talked a bit about his NEXT book. Stay tuned. It should be good.


Incredible, man... I can't believe you know Murakami Ryu! I've been reading "Kibou no kuni no exodus" and it's an incredibly radical book for Japan.

It's the kind of book that gives me hope that Japan will someday become a vibrant democracy... I'd love to talk to this guy.

I also read "Kagirinaku toumei ni chikai blue", and "Coin locker babies"... Very disturbing and thought provoking stories... ;) There aren't many other Japanese authors I feel are innovative enough to read...

I first met Ryu Murakami in 1998 through Ryuichi Sakamoto. They are good friends. Ryu Murakami was looking for someone to talk to about computer hackers as part of research for his book. Since them, we've hung out a few times. I actually see Ryu Murakami more often than I see Ryuichi Sakamoto these days. But I don't get to see either of them as much as I wish I could. They are both on Neoteny's advisory board...

In preparation for meeting with Ryu Murakami, I read "Coin Locker Babies", "Almost Transparent Blue", and "69"... I loved them all. I read them in English. The Japanese is probably better, but the English translations are excellent.

funny Joi,

I have bought "Almost Transparent Blue" in Tokyo during my last trip, and I have finished it one week ago.

Cool. My favorite Ryu Murakami book is Coin Locker Babies. You must read it. How did you find this item Karl?

i just happened upon Almost Transparent Blue. i read it in a day and immediately re-read it. i would like to read his other works, but it is difficult to find them. if anybody would like to swap books, i have some Mishima, Abe, Oe, Bukowski, Camus, Sartre, Kafka. . .
send me an e-mail at if you would like to swap

I found a copy of "Almost Transparent Blue" (in spanish btw) almost five years ago, and i still re-read it every now and then. I have been trying to get a copy of the movie "Tokyo Decadence" but it seems imposible; but after Murakami i started reading other Japanese authors as Mishima, and Oe. I only wish more translations to spanish were available (or it was cheaper for us to buy copies in english anyway)

Hey Alma,

I am interested in re-translating "Almost Transparent Blue" into various languages. I have found some fault in the original English-Language version, and feel I could give a better "feel" of some chapters as a professional translator.

I was just wondering where you got your copy of "Almost Transparent Blue" in Spanish. I would love to have a copy. Or if you could direct me to a site.

Thanks sincerely,
Doug (from Waseda Daigaku of Tokyo) in Los Angeles

In this moment I'm writting my graduation work for the university and it is about 2Almost Transparent Blue". I've read this novel in its spanish translation about 3 trimes and right now I'm reading it in Japanese. I have had many trouble finding information such as literary or cultural critics about this novel, as well as of Murakami's work. I would like to know if someone of you, specially the ones who have personal contact with Murakami, could help in any sort way. Please write to me at my e-mail address. Thank you a lot!

I am too, doing my thesis on Murakami Ryu as well (visions on Japan and it's inhabitants), and I have the same problem finding secondary literature on him. I have only found two "kokubungaku, murakami tokushu" so far, but it is not enough. Does anybody have any advice about finding literary critics, comments about the author, or perhaps publications from the author himself about his own work? If someone knows, please email me. Thanx!

Hello Maria Angelica,

I'm very interesting about your works, have you some french or english version? Thanks

I am kooking forward to find a contact address with ryu murakami.any help will be appreciated

I am kooking forward to find a contact address with ryu murakami.any help will be appreciated

I'm becoming very interested in reading his work... I guess I might give it a try in English, maybe even Japanese if I'll start my Japanese studies in September.

I heard about Ryu Murakami in class and found some lacking information - and was lead here ^^

Hi, just a random person, facinated by Murakami Ryu' works, so far I have read four books by him, Coin Locker Babies, 69, almost transparent blue and In the miso soup.
Coin Locker Babies stay on the top of the list of my favourite books by far! He is an amazing, controvercial writer, I really admire his work.
And you are very lucky to actually being able meet him in person.

well, take care ~

hello!!!I need something about ryu murakami in particular on the mass suicide in modern japan literary.I need it for my graduation at university.please contact me by e-mail.thanks!grazie!barbara

Hello I am wondering is there plans to translate any other Ryu Murakami? I know of the ones we have here already thru In The Miso Soup. Any plans to translate more.

Hello, I am very interested in Murakami. I have only read Almost transparent blue in spanish and I´ve heard that The Miso Soup is translated to spanish as well. I think that there is a market interested in this author so there should be more of his work published.

I'm so interested in murkami....Coin Locker babies is a deep and intense book...I'm going to graduate next month
and my thesis is on Murakami Ryu and the lost identity in his novel...