Haruki Murakami Jazz Club

When I began to reread What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, I thought I would read it in one go, as I like it a lot; however I stopped when I read this paragraph:

Not long before, I’d been running a sort of jazz club near Sendagaya Station. It wasn’t so big, or so small, either. We had a grand piano and just barely enough space to squeeze in a quintet. During the day we served coffee, at night it was a bar. We served pretty decent food, too, and on the weekends featured live performances. This kind of live jazz club was still pretty rare back then, so we gained a steady clientele and the place did all right financially. Most people I knew had predicted that the bar wouldn’t do well. They figured that an establishment run as a kind of hobby wouldn’t work out, that somebody like me, who was pretty naive and most likely didn’t have the slightest aptitude for running a business, wouldn’t be able to make a go of it. Well, their predictions were totally off.

When I finished reading the paragraph I suddenly had the urge to go out and look for the place that Haruki Murakami had been running at the end of the 70’s before he became a writer. When I went out of my house, the only clue I had is that the club was near Sendagaya Station. I didn’t want to carry too much weight so I put my Canon S90 in my pocket and I went out looking for adventure.

Strolling around Sendagaya I found this sento (public hot spring baths) that looked like it had been running for a long time, it was likely that somebody there knew something about Murakami and I decided to go in and ask. An old woman welcomed me with a smile, I asked her about Murakami’s jazz club. She started to tell me about how the neighborhood was a great place to live in the old days;
she didn’t know anything about the jazz club, however she had heard about it.

Sento Sendagaya

I kept on walking with no destination in mind, I went across a small temple plenty of flowering cherry trees.


Cherry tree flower

After a while I found a bookstore that also looked like it had been running for several years. “If Murakami worked and lived around here I am pretty sure he had been in this bookstore!” I thought with excitement. I went inside the bookstore, this time it was a man on his fifties the one who had to deal with my questions, he didn’t look really friendly. When I asked him about Haruki Murakami his face expression changed, his eyes glittered with excitement and he started to tell stories. It turned out that in fact Murakami had been several times in the bookstore buying and skimming through books during the time he had been the owner of the jazz club.


The man came out with me and indicated me the exact building where Murakami’s jazz bar had been located. Mission accomplished! The disappointment was that it was not a jazz bar anymore but a restaurant-cafeteria.

Haruki Murakami Jazz Bar
The legendary jazz club of Haruki Murakami and his wife was on the first floor of this building.

I don’t know why but I had always imagined that Murakami’s jazz club would be located in a basement, however it was located in a first floor. Here is where Murakami worked on his own business, and on his little free time wrote his first two novels: 風の歌を聴け / Kaze no uta o kike / Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973. In Murakami’s own words, my life as a writer started like this:

So I went to the Kinokuniya store in Shinjuku and bought a sheaf of manuscript paper and a five-dollar Sailor fountain pen. A small capital investment on my part.

Gradually, though, I found myself wanting to write a more substantial kind of novel. With the first two, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, I basically enjoyed the process of writing, but there were parts I wasn’t too pleased with. With these first two novels I was only able to write in spurts, snatching bits of time here and there—a half hour here, an hour there—and because I was always tired and felt like I was competing against the clock as I wrote, I was never able to concentrate. With this kind of scattered approach I was able to write some interesting, fresh things, but the result was far from a complex or profound novel. I felt I’d been given a wonderful opportunity to be a novelist—a chance you just don’t get every day—and a natural desire sprang up to take it as far as I possibly could and write the kind of novel I’d feel satisfied with. I knew I could write something more large- scale. And after giving it a lot of thought, I decided to close the business for a while and concentrate solely on writing. At this point my income from the jazz club was more than my income as a novelist, a reality I had to resign myself to.

Murakami Jazz Club
I couldn’t go inside because it was closed. I guess I will have to come back.

On my way home I bumped into this cute cat that seemed like it had just came out of Kafka on the Shore.

Haruki Murakami cat

千Haruki Murakami cat

21 replies on “Haruki Murakami Jazz Club”

Excellent Post!!!! I loved the idea of looking for things based on snippets of info and the fact that it was a writer makes it all the more compelling. I once went to Orlando Florida with my girlfriend years back. she wanted to go to Disneyland. I wasn’t keen on the idea myself. On the way there I passed a sign that said “Eatonville” and it reminded me of the town described in my favorite novel “Their eyes were watching god.” Which was set in Florida near Orlando. It was, in the story, the location of the first incorporated black (African American) town in the US. So, naturally, and to my girlfriend’s chagrin, I pulled over and, like yourself, asked around to see if this was in fact the Eatonville Zora Neale Hurston had written so beautifully of. To make a long story short, it indeed was the very town! In honor of Zora there was a museum, which I spent most of the day at, and even lake okeechobee, which flooded in the novel and eventually killed the main character’s husband, was there. it was an uplifting experience to say the least. Even my girlfriend got a kick out of it (though she’d have rather spent time with Mickey lol)
Thanks for bringng this all back to me with your post!

Awesome detective work there! Sounds like you had your own Murakami-esque journey. For some reason I have this very clear image of what his jazz bar would have looked like, he must of described it in minute detail in one of his stories. Can’t remember which one, about a guy who sees a picture of a jazz bar in a magazine, then rings that guy up. Was that in one of his shorts or What I talk about Running..? Dark, rosewood counter, narrow with moody lighting. Almost feel like I’ve been there before, seen a photo maybe, but it was just a story, right?

Thanks for sharing your experience. I have wanted to see this club and didn’t realize it had closed down. You made the journey for me.

It’s very interesting. I like Haruki Murakami too and I am Japanese but I have never thought where his bar was.You are very active.
Someday I want to go there and I am looking forward to seeing your new one.

As Japanese fan of him, sorry to say but I didnt this.
and image of bar that i had is totaly diffrent from thid picts. i will explore this area next week and give some coments if I can. thanks folks.

日本, 〒151-0051 東京都渋谷区千駄ケ谷1丁目7−12 (チャコあめみや)

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Wonderful post! What a pity that i was in Shijuku last Spring but I didn’t think about finding the place! Thank u for sharing!

I arrived this page from Haruki Murakami’s FB. I walk this street everyday to work and never knew. I think I shall drop in the bookstore too !

Hey there! I was actually at the cafe yesterday thanks to this great advice, so I took some little direction notes to help anyone else out who finds this page and is in Japan and thinks they’d like to go see the cafe for themselves.

So after you get off at Sendagaya Station, you’ll come out and see a big building (Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium) on your left. Follow that road down (keeping the gym on your left) and walk about five minutes. After a while you’ll see a Mos Burger ahead of you and you’ll pass a cafe called the Good Morning Cafe on your right. You’ll be there quick smart and you won’t be able to miss it, trust me. 🙂

I am travelling through Tokyo and visiting the Murakami Jazz bar was on my to do list. Today after researching and stumbling upon your article, I found out that this bar is 30 seconds from where I live.

well, thk for posting this…..I hoped to know about haruki’ bar and imagined about it all the time. i wanna open a bar too and i found ur article by a chance. kawaii. Though it is dif from what i thought i can have my own ideas now.

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