Author Murakami hosts live jam for relaxation amid pandemic

·2 min read

TOKYO — Japanese author Haruki Murakami has a remedy for those who need relaxation from stress and worries in time of a pandemic — Brazilian Bossa nova music.

“As we are going through a time of anxiety, I hope to help you relax even just a little bit,” Murakami, 72, said as he hosted a live online show, “Murakami Jam — Blame it on the Bossa Nova,” bringing together renowned Japanese performers of Bossa nova and jazz.

Despite the pandemic, Murakami — known for bestsellers including “A Wild Sheep Chase” and “The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" — said he still maintains a daily routine including running and writing, but the frequent world traveller has stayed in Japan.

Murakami, who on his radio show has expressed concern about prejudice and discrimination against coronavirus patients, said he finds that the rhythm of Bossa nova has a healing effect.

“I think good music is something that heals people and fires up your kindness,” he said.

During Sunday's approximately two-hour show, he recited his 1982 short story “The1963/1982 Girl from Ipanema,” in which a narrator details his memory of his meeting with a metaphysical girl from the song, with live guitar performed by his guest Kaori Muraji.

The show is viewable online until Feb. 21.

Music serves as an important motif in Murakami’s stories. An avid listener and collector of music, he has also written books on the topic.

Murakami began writing while running a jazz bar in Tokyo after graduating from university. Following his 1979 debut novel, “Hear the Wind Sing,” the 1987 romance “Norwegian Wood” became his first bestseller, establishing him as a young literary star.

A perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in literature, Murakami now appears as a DJ for his roughly bimonthly “Murakami Radio” show, but he is known as a social recluse and public appearances are still rare.

“Some people doubt if I really exist, and others think I'm an imaginary figure," he said.

Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press