1Q84 is one of Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious projects. It’s a massive novel which spans over 3 books in its original Japanese form, and the story takes us to a myriad of locations all over Japan’s Kanto region. There are scenes taking place as far west as the suburb of Ome to the far eastern town of Chikura, Chiba. The novel’s scenes are so scattered throughout the Kanto region that visiting every single one of them would take at least a couple of days. However, if you’re short on time, it’s still possible to visit the most important locations in one single day trip.
TOKYO DAY TRIP ITINERARY:
SANGENJAYA TO KOENJI
Sangenjaya in Setagaya Ward is where the story begins. It’s here, of course, where Aomame slips through dimensions and enters the alternate reality of 1Q84 when climbing down an emergency staircase. While not exactly like the one described in the book, if you look closely you can find such a staircase a few minute walk from Sangenjaya Station.
Sangenjaya is just a couple stops away from Shibuya. Shibuya doesn’t play such a major role in the novel overall, but it is where we’re first introduced to Aomame’s job as a hired assassin. Later in the story, Aomame’s friend Yumi is found murdered in a Maruyamacho love hotel. The Maruyamacho “Love Hotel Hill” area is the focal point of Murakami’s previous novel After Dark. If you’ve not read that novel then this would be a good time to explore the Shibuya area. Check the web site shibuyaguide.com for tips on restaurants, sightseeing and nightlife in the area.
One of the most important scenes from the novel takes place in Hotel Okura, which is unfortunately being completely reconstructed at the time of writing. However, there are some other spots in the area that may interest you, such as Ark Hills and the classical music venue Suntory Hall.
Shinjuku appears a couple of times in the novel, perhaps most notably when Tengo meets Fuka-Eri for the first time at Nakamuraya Cafe. There are actually a few cafes of this name, all located in the Nakamuraya Building. It’s unclear on which floor the scenes from the novel take place, but Nakamuraya is best known for its Indian-style curry which can be ordered in the basement floor restaurant.
Just across the street you can find the Kinokuniya bookstore which appears every so often in both Murakami’s novels as well as nonfiction.
Several stops west of Shinjuku is Koenji, where Tengo lives over the course of the novel and where Aomame moves to near the end of the book. Though not especially evident by reading the novel, the area is actually quite lively and has been synonymous with music and creativity for decades. Along the railroad tracks one can find numerous izakaya-style restaurants with outdoor seating – a rarity in Japan.
A few minutes south of the station is Koenji Chuo Park which is where Tengo first notices the two moons. Whether you visit in the afternoon or at night, you’ll likely realize why many consider Koenji to be one of Tokyo’s best kept secrets.
If you’re looking to escape from the city for a day, taking a short trip to either Ome or Ichikawa, Chiba will surely be worth your while. Futamatao in Ome City is where Fuka-Eri lives with Professor Ebisuno. Though technically part of Tokyo, the area is a significant distance from the Shinjuku area but is home to some gorgeous hiking trails.
Ichikawa in Chiba is the town where both Aomame and Tengo grew up and Ushikawa travels there when digging for information on Aomame and her family. You can enjoy the view from the top of the I-Linktown Observatory, walk along the river and enjoy yet another fantastic view of the Tokyo skyline from the colorful Satomi Park.
There are also a number of other minor Tokyo locations which appear briefly throughout the story.