Norwegian Wood Soba


We know that Haruki Murakami’s characters love going out to fancy French restaurants in Aoyama, hotel bars in Shinjuku and coffee shops in Ginza. Throughout the author’s work, however, surprisingly few specific restaurants or bars are actually named. Fortunately, most of the establishments which have been named in the books are still around in modern-day Tokyo. Here’s a list of eight bars and restaurants from Murakami’s fiction that you can visit today.

1. Dug

Dug Shinjuku

Fans of Norwegian Wood can visit the same bar where Watanabe and Midori often go for drinks in the novel. Dug, originally established in the 1960’s still remains today, although it’s changed locations a few times since its original incarnation. 

The bar no longer features live jazz performances but it’s a great place for jazz fans to grab a drink while hearing some classic records played through an excellent soundsystem.

2. Nakamuraya Cafe

Nakamuraya Cafe 1Q84

Nakamuraya Cafe, the place where Tengo and Fuka-Eri meet for the first time in 1Q84, is just across the street from Shinjuku’s Kinokuniya bookstore.

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.

Expect to pay more than what you would for a similar portion size elsewhere, but the quiet atmosphere and attentive service are all part of the package.

3. Denny's

Denny's Shibuya

The first scenes of Murakami’s 2004 novel After Dark take place in a Denny’s somewhere in Shibuya. The central Shibuya area has two Denny’s restaurants – one in Nanpeidai and the other in Jinnan. It’s most likely that Mari and Takahashi meet in the latter, about a ten minute walk from Love Hotel Hill.

Visitors from abroad may be surprised to see that Denny’s in Japan specializes in steaks rather than breakfast combo meals.

4. Gusto (Skylark)

Skylark After Dark

While less iconic than the Denny’s from the beginning of After Dark, Mari also goes to sit in a Skylark restaurant later in the novel. Skylark restaurants are now known as Gusto and this restaurant is just down the street from the Denny’s on Koen-dori.

5. Shakey's Pizza

Shakey's Pizza Shibuya

At the end of Dance, Dance, Dance, the narrator and his famous actor friend Gotanda meet in a Shakey’s Pizza. Which chain they meet in is not specified but there happens to be one in Shibuya, a couple minute walk from Tokyu Hands. As the protagonist also lives in Shibuya, this is likely the same restaurant where Gotanda confesses his crime in the book.

6. Hope-ken

Murakami Hope-ken Sendagaya

In Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of The World, the protagonist is walking underground beneath Tokyo’s Sendagaya neighborhood as he imagines the scene up above:

“I pictured the world above ground. We were directly under those two landmark ramen shops — Hope-ken and Copain.” 

While Copain apparently no longer exists, Hope-ken can still be visited 24 hours a day. The ramen here is nothing too special but it’s not bad either. The cheapest bowl can be ordered for ¥750 while the options with more toppings go for around ¥1000.

7. Komatsuan

Soba Norwegian Wood

In Norwegian Wood, after Watanabe and Naoko finally make it to Komagome, they stop in a soba noodle restaurant. This restaurant is not named in the English translation but in the original Japanese version it’s revealed to be Komatsuan. 

Located just next to the entrance of Rikugien Gardens, Komatsuan is known for its peaceful atmosphere in addition to its delicious soba. Just be aware before you go that Komatsuan is especially pricey for a noodle shop, with the cheapest dish here going for around ¥1,000. Meanwhile, set meals cost around ¥3,000 or more.

8. Keikyu Ex Inn Shinagawa

Shingawa Hotel Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

In The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Toru first meets Malta Kano in person in a tearoom in the Pacific Hotel near Shinagawa Station. The Pacific Hotel was closed in 2010 but the Keikyu Ex Inn Shinagawa currently operates in the same building.

Today you can still visit the first-floor tearoom known as “Garden Tea Shinagawa,” although it’s not suitable for those traveling on a budget.

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