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In the Miso Soup

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,508 Ratings  ·  740 Reviews
It is just before New Year's. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn't until later, however, tha ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Penguin (first published 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 09, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-japanese
”I had just turned twenty, and though my English is far from perfect I was working as a ‘nightlife guide’ for foreign tourists. Basically I specialize in what you might call sex tours, so it’s not as if my English needs to flawless. Since AIDS, the sex industry hasn’t exactly welcomed foreigners with open arms--in fact, most of the clubs are pretty blatant about refusing service to gaijin--but lots of visitors from overseas are still determined to play, and they’re the ones who pay me to guide t ...more
Mar 20, 2016 Jaidee rated it really liked it

4.5 "chilling, existential and misanthropic" stars.

9th Favorite Read of 2015

This book was given to me by my partner as I am waiting for Ms. Alice Munro's "Dear Life: Stories." from the library. I was very wary when he gave this to me because I do not like gratuitous violence that leaves one feeling desensitized or empty.

This little novel was so much more though. It was a foray into the interactions between a lost young Japanese Man and a middle aged American psychopath so intelligent and cunni
Nov 15, 2015 Carol rated it liked it
What the hell did I just read? Digesting.......Ok, I swallowed it.

Are you ready to read something REEEALLY weird? Check out these two quotes:

"Killing people has always been absolutely essential for me to go on living."

"I'm a man who consciously commits murders and scares the hell out of people and makes them reconsider everything, so I'm definitely malignant, yet I think I play a necessary role in this world."

In this weird-ass story, there is one weird-ass creepy American businessman/tourist

Feb 19, 2016 Matthias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthias by: Sean Wilson
Shelves: my-reviews
Recommendation: Read this in one sitting. It's a very quick read with a pacing and construction very much of its own, best experienced without any long breaks. I had the misfortune of taking a break just before a certain, uuhm, "highlight", I guess you could call it, hurting the immersion a bit.

What is this book about? Fear. Mostly fear, and how people respond to it. There is a big amount of atmosphere setting as well, which is done brilliantly through the vivid descriptions of Tokyo's red-light
Dec 03, 2009 Marvin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
Reading this novel is like going to McDonald, buying a Big Mac and finding a severed eyeball under the bun....Then putting the bun back on and eating it, eyeball and all. What starts out as a sleazy, guilty pleasure of a pulp novel about an American tourist and his guide visiting the Tokyo pleasure palaces turns into a soup broth of over-the-top violence and nutty serial killer philosophy that makes Jeffrey Dahmer seem like the boy next door. Yet In The Miso Soup remains riveting throughout its ...more
Paul Bryant
Dec 25, 2013 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Another Murakami? I thought you didn't like the Wind Up Bird thing.

This is a different guy. It must be like Smith or Patel over there.

Two stars? Not that good then?

Well... nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnot really, but....


It could have been. He lumbered himself with this boring serial killer oooh oooh Frank Booth-in-Blue Velvet nutcase when he should

- in your humble opinion!

- yes, yes, all this stuff in my HUMBLE opinion, I'm not the arbiter of recentish Japanese novels, I've read exactly three -

- all
The GR synopsis tells you all you need to know of the plot, so my review is for those who've read that much, and are still on-the-fence about whether to read In The Miso Soup. Consider this review a Ben Franklin checklist from which you can total the scores on each side of your personal reading ledger, and make that call for yourself.

But before we get to that, my rating reflects two values that are in tension with one another - writing style, for which In The Miso Soup deserves a 5, and "did the
Bark's Book Nonsense
Nov 25, 2015 Bark's Book Nonsense rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, thriller
Kenji is a young guy who makes his money by giving visitors of a certain umm, ilk, shall we say, tours of Tokyo’s sex industry. His latest client is a chubby American named Frank. Frank wants to see all the sights and have all the sex, all of which is nothing unusual, but Kenji quickly realizes there is something a bit “off” about dead-eyed Frank. And it’s probably not a coincidence that dead bodies start turning up as soon as Frank comes to visit . . .

Night one is slightly strange but when Ken
Anthony Vacca
Oct 10, 2014 Anthony Vacca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve always thought there was something to be said about the strange fascination that American and Japanese culture share with one another. Maybe one of my peers, guilty too of shamelessly mythologizing the East (since we Americans are without the millennial long view of a mythology, or rather what myths there were to be had those first settlers rubbed out with the natives) will put together the defining treatise on the matter. If so in my lifetime, then that author already has themselves one re ...more
In the Miso Soup follows the 20-year-old tour guide Kenji in the nights leading up to New Year’s as he shows Japan’s sex district to an American tourist who happens to be a pathological liar and may be responsible for the grisly murder and cutting-up-in-bits of a school-age prostitute (yes, your favorite kind).

Unlike other page turners, In the Miso Soup creates a story that never comes at the cost of character. Murakami has an impressive ability to convey individuals through a select number of
La Petite Américaine
Jul 29, 2008 La Petite Américaine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anxiety Junkies/Japan Enthusiasts
Recommended to La Petite Américaine by: Kept seeing it on the Fnac bookshelt
Ok, this is the last Japanese book I'm reading for a while. Fuck me, this had me emailing my brother who lived in Japan for a year, asking him what the fuck is wrong with Japanese writers. His answer? Japan is all twisted, that's why I love it. Heh.

Although this book offered much more insight into Japanese culture than Kirino's Out: A Novel, while also giving thoughtful and poignant perspectives on American culture, I just can't stand this bloodbath shit that's popped up in both of these novel
Jan 31, 2009 christa rated it it was amazing
"In The Miso Soup" by Ryu Murakami is not the kind of book that you bring home to meet your parents. It is lurid. It is frightening. It is unpredictable. Murakami plucked ordinary words out of nowhere and arranged them into a simple, matter-of-fact horror. Like a smiling child with a box of crayons, humming the Dora the Explorer theme song, then showing you a crudely drawn crime scene with headless chickens and bloody axes and dead parents.

It is a delicious read.

Kenji has the slightly illegal jo
Nov 09, 2008 Courtney added it
Recommends it for: Brad Turcotte, Kim H., Emily, Whitney
Recommended to Courtney by: my sister
Loved it, love it, loved it. I hated every second I wasn't reading this book. It's quickly paced, but I don't know if I'd call it a thriller, per se, or use Silence of the Lambs as a point of comparison/reference (the Kirkus blurb on the front does both).

In the Miso Soup is tense and intelligent and sad and contemplative. I had any easier time with the gore than I thought I would. It was pretty explicit, yes, but maybe seeing it through Kenji's eyes--he's a very passive narrator--allowed for a c
Ashita Thakur
Jun 30, 2015 Ashita Thakur rated it really liked it
"it was a darned peculiar kind of soup, the smell it had and everything, so I didn’t eat it, but it intrigued me. It had that funny brown color and smelled kind of like human sweat, but it also looked delicate and refined somehow. I came to this country hoping to find out what the people who eat that soup on a daily basis might be like."

I feel the same. Yes i do. Oh Japan. The land of all that is wonderful, exciting, creepy and gory.

The graphic violence in this is just plain gross and horrif
Beautifully written, unsettling, disturbing, and unforgettable. Loneliness is a major theme throughout In the Miso Soup. Loneliness of Japanese and American culture is looked at through the eyes of Kenji and Frank - a pair who form an odd, and jarring bond that pulls you into the story. Kenji takes Frank (an American tourist) on a guided tour through Tokyo's nightlife and sex industry, only for Kenji to begin to suspect Frank of murdering a high school student. As per usual with Ryu Murakami, th ...more
Jun 20, 2008 Sally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So scary, creepy-crawly flesh tingling, ickily real scary. I don't know anyone I would recommend this graphic of book to, but if you like, say, Sin City or gory chop 'em up flicks, this might be the book for you.
Be warned, you won't be able to put it down, until you see murders happen behind your eyelids when you aren't even reading .

Nov 10, 2014 Ana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2014, japan, gore
Too strange to try and describe, but if you like weird psychological insights into psychos with a bit of gore thrown in the mix, then you might like it.
Mar 07, 2013 Estelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book many years ago, back when I was living in France. Despite its content, it didn't stop me from moving to Tokyo.
"In the Miso Soup" is very graphic, violent, and at times downright scary. The kind of book that makes you want to take a shower after finishing it. That said, I absolutely loved it! The writing is excellent, and the description of Tokyo's red light district (Kabukicho) is still very vivid in my mind. But the real strength of the books lies in the relationshi
Sean Wilson
Is this book a meditative study on the human imagination? The longing for acknowledgement of one's existence? Whatever it is, In The Miso Soup is one of the most visceral and cerebral books you'll ever read. Ryū Murakami combines philosophical nihilism, existentialism, surrealism, disillusion and black comedy to craft an overwhelmingly disturbing and thoughtful novel.
Kenji is a tour guide of the night, normally taking Americans to the sex clubs within Tokyo. Frank, an overweight business man that appears to have only one thing on his mind wishes to take advantage of Kenji’s knowledge of the sex industry, hires him to guide him for three days. However Frank’s strange behaviour begins to make Kenji suspicious and he quickly suspects that his client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorising Tokyo. In the Miso Soup is a fast paced, philosophical piece o ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Jana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning I said that I expect a lot from this Japanese sex book. The truth is, until now, I've never experienced full blown tension attack while reading some book.

It is horribly disturbing, and my anxiety wasn't connected with sex. I would feel happy if I were shocked with dark and twisted sex scene of Tokyo. I would be lucky if it were that.

But the heart of this book is purely perverse and utterly sick. I don't have nerves and stomach for it.

Characters are just too lonely and there i
Greg Bates
Jan 16, 2013 Greg Bates rated it really liked it
Japan is a nation of extremes. Why does one of the richest nations on the planet have citizens who literally work themselves to death? Why do so many well-to-do Japanese teenagers turn to prostitution? How did Japan's intensely polite, buttoned-down society spawn one of the largest, most varied sex industries in the world? In the Miso Soup is a slim volume by Ryu Murakami that tries to grapple with the Big Questions, even as it presents a satisfying mystery. It concerns Kenji, a twenty-something ...more
This is a really interesting thriller. Not at all what I had expected, and the last third definitely saved this book from a lower score. Definitely not for the weak stomached because of extremely graphic violence. This is a book about a Japanese man guiding an American into the seedy underbelly of Japan's commercial district, Shinjuku, also known as Kabukicho and Murakami provides a much more cynical perspective on both Japanese and American cultures than you normally see in Japanese fiction. Mo ...more
Aug 16, 2011 Librivore rated it it was ok
There are few things more frustrating in a story than underdeveloped characters. This book provides two such examples: interesting characters that fail to develop; and characters hijacked by the author to serve as his (or, in this instance, her) voice.

The concept of the story is promising enough: an american sex tourist hires a young, but disenchanted, japanese guide to explore the night attractions of the city. Add a neglected girlfriend, a murder, a splash of mystery and a passable translation
Leo Robertson
Mar 18, 2013 Leo Robertson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewtastic
I write novels in my spare time- well, I've written one that's finished, and a pretty decent draft of a second one- you won't get any annoying updates from me though, there's plenty of that abound, and I'll be really careful to find the right audience and not bother anyone else...[1] Okay, it's been said somewhere, good [2].

What's my point though? Well... you can totally write about anything. I know you know this, but ANYTHING. Short stories about an alcoholic teacup. Microscopic space opera.

Jan 16, 2011 Lou rated it liked it
A Tokyo tour guide gets requested for a tour by an American and it seems it's one job he wishes he did not take up as the new year closely approaches.
The prose is ordinary, story picks up momentum halfway and theres few pages where things get gory but large part spent in seedy streets and bars of Tokyo. You also get to learn bit about Japanese culture. I felt the end was stopped short that really left me bit disappointed with the story.

“Miso soup?” “Yeah. I’m really interested in miso soup. I o
Based on some little knowledge I had about the author, I expected “In the Miso Soup” to be much more than an ordinary thriller or horror novel. And there was the attempt to be more than that, but the book still had too many weak elements to it.

The protagonist and narrator is a twenty-year-old tourist guide specialised in the Tokyo sex scene, who gets to spend three days (or nights) with his disturbing and disturbed American client.

The language is kept plain and colloquial, so that along with t
João Carlos

Ilustração de Yuko Shimizu - capa da edição italiana da Mondadorin

"Contém alguns Spoilers"

Kenji é um jovem japonês “especialista em visitas guiadas ao sexo” na noite de Tóquio. Nesse contexto profissional é contrato pelo norte-americano Frank, para que lhe mostre a vida nocturna da capital japonesa, especialmente a zona portuária de Kabuki-cho, povoada de bares e frequentada, essencialmente, por jovens estudantes liceais em busca de dinheiro e sexo e por adultos desesperados em busca de prazer e
Feb 16, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy psychological "thrillers"
Recommended to Kate by: Christa
Let me be honest. I had no idea what I was getting myself into with this book. I didn't really have any expectations going into it, which turned out to be a very great thing.

On the surface this book is about Kenji, a tour guide of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife. His customer, Frank, is an American tourist looking for a good time. However, after Kenji and Frank meet, the book takes many dark and psychological twists and turns that I don't really want to give away here.

I don't know if I can call this on
Mar 08, 2015 Jim rated it liked it
Offbeat and intriguing, this suspenseful story of Tokyo's sex trade district takes a disturbing turn about halfway through, though what has gone before is rather disturbing itself. The tale of a sexual tour guide who begins to believe his client is a serial killer erupts into a nightmare that at once staggers the imagination and beggars credibility. The view of Japan's sleazy sexual underworld is more interesting than the bizarre monster at the center of the book.
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Ryū Murakami (村上 龍) is a Japanese novelist and filmmaker. He is not related to Haruki Murakami or Takashi Murakami.

Murakami's first work, the short novel Almost Transparent Blue, written while he was still a student, deals with promiscuity and drug use among disaffected Japanese youth. Critically acclaimed as a new style of literature, it won the newcomer's literature prize in 1976 despite some ob
More about Ryū Murakami...

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“People who love horror films are people with boring lives... when a really scary movie is over, you're reassured to see that you're still alive and the world still exists as it did before. That's the real reason we have horror films - they act as shock absorbers - and if they disappeared altogether, I bet you'd see a big leap in the number of serial killers. After all, anyone stupid enough to get the idea of murdering people from a movie could get the same idea from watching the news.” 102 likes
“... The type of loneliness where you need to keep struggling to accept a situation is fundamentally different than the sort you know you'll get through if you just hang in there” 55 likes
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