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Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  10,255 Ratings  ·  752 Reviews
It was a clear spring day, Monday, March 20, 1995, when five members of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo conducted chemical warfare on the Tokyo subway system using sarin, a poison gas twenty-six times as deadly as cyanide. The unthinkable had happened, a major urban transit system had become the target of a terrorist attack.
In an attempt to discover why, Haruki Murakam
ebook, 384 pages
Published August 11th 2010 by Vintage (first published March 13th 1997)
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Community Reviews

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Dec 09, 2010 Alina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, japanese
Amazing, thoughtful compilation of interviews conducted by Murakami. While the accounts of the gas attack itself are both shocking and fascinating, it also gives invaluable insight into what it means to be Japanese and the life that is expected of you. In fact, when reading the rigid and all-prevailing work ethic of the commuters on their way to work on the doomed trains, the sense of entrapping routine makes you wonder how 'crazy' the interviewed Aum members are for wanting to escape it. A cul ...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
There was a terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway system carried out in 1995 by a religious cult called Aum. They released poison gas, called sarin, during rush hour on several different train lines, killing 13 people, and injuring hundreds of others.

This book contains interviews of people caught in the attack, as well as interviews of members of the Aum cult, although none of them were perpetrators of the attack.

As a reader from another country, I feel like I'm missing a lot. I read the book fe
Oct 08, 2013 Darwin8u rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"without a proper ego nobody can create a personal narrative, any more than you can drive a car without an engine, or cast a shadow without a real physical object. But once you've consigned your ego to someone else, where on earth do you go from there?"
- Haruki Murakami, Underground


Looking back 20 years to the Tokyo Gas Attack, it seems inevitable that Murakami would write about it. Writing about dark tunnels that bridge both the victims and the devout, that link a damp tongue of evil with the m
Mar 30, 2016 Matthias rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
I had to learn more about the Japanese as a form of consciousness. - Haruki Murakami

I've always known Murakami for his mystical, mythical stories. Following his characters is usually like taking dancing classes: the first steps seem quite sensible but soon you find yourself in an inextricable knot that you don't know how to get out of. His stories are from another realm, to such an extent that Murakami himself seemed way out there. I always pictured him as a black-clad dreamweaver, spinning his
Sep 27, 2010 AC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fascism, japan
This is actually two books. Part I (1-223), titled "Underground" (Andaguraundo) was published in 1997; Part II ("The Place that was Promised") was written and published separately the following year.

Part I consists of interviews with the victims (see updates; this section is too long and is tedious). Part II consists of interviews with members and former members of Aum Shinrikyo.

And this is where things get really weird....

The members of this cult -- who r
Words can be practically useless at times, but as a writer they're all I have.
A group of people killed another group of people. I could be talking about a number of things. A description of the present. An incident in history. A prediction of the future. The final result of brainwashing. The beginning of a new era. A cause. A conclusion. The means. The end. A resolution. An excuse. The threat executed by an oppressor. The exigency fulfilled by a nation. Culture clash. Revolution. Murder. Self-
Jan 14, 2010 Lobstergirl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in cults
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: the library shelf
The bestselling novelist Haruki Murakami gives a Studs Terkelish treatment to the Tokyo sarin gas attacks of 1995 which killed 12 and injured hundreds. There's a great deal about Terkel's methods to like (when Terkel uses them), but they fall flat here. I don't think the oral history treatment works well in this instance, in which every victim is in the same location (the subway system) and is subjected to the same assault; the approximately 30 victim accounts are extremely repetitive, which bec ...more
Aug 25, 2015 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Underground è la metropolitana, naturalmente — quella metropolitana che nel 1995 fu teatro di un orribile attentato da parte della setta religiosa denominata Aum. Ma è anche una metafora per le forze sotterranee che regolano la nostra esistenza — quel "sogno di qualcun altro" che siamo costretti a sognare e che un giorno potrebbe trasformarsi improvvisamente in un incubo.
La prima scelta di Murakami è stata quella di raccontare l'attentato tagliando quasi del tutto fuori coloro che lo hanno perp
Apr 19, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, pan-asian
The rain that fell on the city runs down the dark gutters and empties into the sea without even soaking the ground.
The sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway in 1995 were perpetrated by Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese religious cult, and attracted wide media attention. Aum emerged in 1984 when previously strict measures by the Japanese government against new religions were relaxed. During the post-war American occupation and in the years following, this laxness was an attempt to show that the new pol
Seth T.
Oct 18, 2010 Seth T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murakami's Underground was by turns devastating and intriguing. There were moments I wanted to abandon humanity in a wastebin behind an abortion clinic and others when I sat there dumbfounded, thinking Wow, humanity, you're like the most interesting people on earth. Love to hate to love to hate. Again and again.

That's what books about patent insanities do to me.

Underground chronicles the psychological aftermath of Aum Shinrikyo's 1995 deposit of Sarin nerve gas across several of the mass-transit
Huong-Giang Nguyen
Mình đang đọc phần đầu tiên của cuốn sách, khi Haruki tiến hành phỏng vấn các nạn nhân bị nhiễm chất độc sarin. Thật sự xúc động! Và cảm phục người Nhật sâu sắc tới tận cùng. Về cách họ hành xử trong tình huống ấy, cách họ nhìn nhận và đối diện với vết thương cả thể xác lẫn tinh thần của không chỉ bản thân họ, mà của cả người thân của họ.
Mình mới đọc được khoảng 15 câu chuyện của 15 người khác nhau, nhưng câu chuyện nào cũng đặc biệt xúc động. Bởi vì nó quá chân thật, chân thật như thể người ta

The Beginning: Two men were assigned to drop sarin gas on the Chiyda line: Ikuo Hayashi and Tomomitsu Niimi.

In ‘Underground’, Murakami interviews victims of the Tokyo gas attack. He asks them about their life and work, makes them describe in detail how they experienced the attack, what happened afterwards and how their life has been ever since.

It was a terrifying yet fascinating read. You could feel the claustrophobia and fear as people in the underground discovered that something was wrong, an
Thanh Hằng
Apr 22, 2012 Thanh Hằng rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Đọc Ngầm, tôi sợ. Tôi thấy mình cứ yếu đi dần dần với mỗi chân dung người hiện ra. Chưa có quyển sách nào của Murakami lại khiến tôi sợ đến vậy.

Thường sách của Murakami sẽ khiến tôi hơi khó hiểu chỗ này chỗ kia, bối rối và mệt mỏi truy tìm ý nghĩa một chút. Ngầm thì là sách phi hư cấu, nhưng lại khiến tôi sợ kinh khủng. Không phải nỗi sợ mơ hồ những điều không đoán định được như ma quỷ, mà vì những điều tăm tối nhất trong con người (cả con người tôi, nhất là con người tôi), vốn bị nén chặt ở tầ
On March 20, 1995 a Japanese religious cult, called Aum Shinrikyo released sarin gas onto five subway trains during the morning rush hour. Cult members entered trains near the front with two or three newspaper-wrapped packets of sarin, piercing the packets with sharpened umbrellas the members were able to get off the train with minimal injury due to the gas.

In Japan, this book was published as two: the first being interviews with sarin survivors that had been affected in some way, even just havi
I still remember the first time I came across this book at the local used-book store. I was about to check out with my purchases when I noticed a book with Murakami written on its spine behind the woman at the counter, so I asked her for it & quickly looked up the book on Goodreads. But I wasn't really keen on non-fiction back then, someone on my friends' list had given it a one-star rating & I being short on cash conspired together & I didn't buy it. Bad judgement on my part, now th ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Cărăşălu rated it really liked it
This a collection of interviews with the victims of the Tokyo subway gas attack, in the first part, and with some (ex)members of the cult that did carry out the attack. Although I did find the latter part more interesting, the first one is very revealing as well. Murakami sets out to show how the event was felt by those directly involved in it. What exactly happened that very morning? What did people do? Who reacted how? And the answers are very surprising, at times unbelievable. One of the most ...more
Feb 19, 2017 Cinnamon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
พอไมใชนิยายกใชเวลาอานนานโข เดือนครึงเชียวกวาจะจบ นับถือในความทุมเทของเฮียและทีมงานในการรวบรวมขอมูลและสัมภาษณผูประสบภัยในเหตุการณปลอยแกสซารินในรถไฟใตดินเมือครังนันมาก ๆ ดวยความทีเปนแนวสารคดีจึงไมไดมีความตืนเตนระทึกขวัญในแบบนิยาย ความนาสนใจอยูทีเหตุการณนันเกิดขึนจริง มีผูเสียชีวิต และไดรับบาดเจบมากมาย แลวยังมีผลกระทบสืบเนืองทังในดานรางกาย และจิตใจตามมา ทุกคนตางถายทอดเรืองราวในวันเกิดเหตุออกมาจากความทรงจำ และมุมมองของตัวเอง อานแลวรูสึกไดถึงอารมณหลากหลาย ความทุกขทนหมนเศรา โกรธแคนชิงชัง งุนงง ฯลฯ คนท ...more
Jan 15, 2017 Stacia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, 2017
This is not your typical non-fiction book for various reasons. The largest part of the book includes interviews with survivors of the attack or relatives of those who did not survive. Murakami describes his method of finding the interviewees, convincing them to talk (which would have been a challenge in 1990s Japanese society), meeting with them, & recording their words. I worked for Japanese companies for over ten years (so I worked with many Japanese co-workers) & the survivor sections ...more
Dec 28, 2011 Mag rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read it to get a better understanding of 1Q84. I wouldn’t say it’s essential reading for it, but it's very helpful to understanding the book’s themes and characters. Underground is a non-fiction account of Aum Shinrikyo’s sarin gas terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway in March, 1995. Aum Shinrikyo was a doomsday cult and the attack happened to fulfil its leader’s prophecy that a gas attack in Tokyo was to start the Third World War and lead to Armageddon. The attack killed 13 people (the last o ...more
Chelsea Szendi
This book proves two things I've long suspected about Murakami Haruki. One is that he'd be a lot more interesting if he'd deny his own ego every once in a while, and the second is that he is not very skilled at analysis. This book of Murakami's is nonfiction and almost entirely the compiled testimonies of survivors of the March 20, 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway.

At first the experiment is absolutely absorbing. In his prologue, Murakami promises to explore the kind of "double victimization
Miguel Lugo
Mar 04, 2017 Miguel Lugo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un libro salvaje y caotico que nos muestra a una sociedad que nos sorprende cada que conocemos algo nuevo de esta.

Las entrevistas pueden llegar a ser repetitivas ya que todos cuentan lo que sucedió pero Murakami indaga mas en el interior de la personas afectada y en su vida cotidiana, las entrevistas son amenas y esto nos hace ponernos en el lugar del entrevistado.

Murakami adentra al atentado con un epilogo y nos presenta las entrevistas que fueron organizadas conforme las lineas del metro afect
May 21, 2014 Pio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trust-and-honest
Một quyển sách rất bổ ích, nhưng mà tui hông thích bàn luận tôn giáo và những khái niệm trừu tượng trong này. Thấy nó rắc rối tợn :(
Thomas Hübner
Mar 24, 2015 Thomas Hübner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

“The date is Monday 20 March, 1995. It is a beautiful clear spring morning. There is still a brisk breeze and people are bundled up in coats. Yesterday was Sunday, tomorrow is the Spring Equinox, a national holiday. Sandwiched right in the middle of what should have been a long weekend, you’re probably thinking “I wish I didn’t have to go to work today.” No such luck. You got up at the normal time, wash, dress, breakfast, and head for the subway station. You b
Jee Koh
Jan 05, 2014 Jee Koh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm planning to visit Japan in August and so when I found Haruki Murakami's work of journalism Underground at Kramerbooks in D.C., I bought it immediately, for who can resist a book subtitled "The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche"?

The first, and bigger, part of the book consists of interviews with the victims of the gas attacks, and the family of those who died. These interviews are ordered according to the subway lines on which the Aum attack on March 20, 1995, a Monday, took place. Di
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Before reading "Underground," I had never read any non-fiction from Haruki Murakami. His fiction books are some of my favorites and if you know Murakami, you know that magical realism is part of so many of his fiction books so I was interested to see how his non-fiction was where there wouldn't be any magical realism.

This book is about the sarin gas attacks that happened in Tokyo in the mid-nineties. I vaguely remember when this happened but was quite young so I didn't really understand what had
Jan 19, 2015 Giedre rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Underground is Murakami's way of "figuring" out the 1995 Tokyo sarin gas attack. The way he decided to do this was by first interviewing some of the survivors and, in some cases, the relatives of the deceased, and second - just to give us a glimpse of the other side of the coin - interviewing some of the Aum cult followers. There was a brief Murakami piece - I struggle calling it an analysis - between the two sets of interviews. This brief interlude in the middle is, in my opinion, the weak
Knarik Avetisyan
A book of Murakami about Tokyo gas attack, that left only 12 people dead but 1000s were intoxicated.

The first part of the book includes a number of interviews of injured people, their memories and feelings about all of it.

The second part of the book includes the interviews with members and formers of the attack. I haven't read this book till the end as it was written in a very boring way. But i was able to make my mind about it and get that there was nothing special about this book, except the
Mi Camino Blanco
Mar 15, 2015 Mi Camino Blanco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
El 20 de marzo de 1995 la secta japonesa Aum llevó a cabo un atentado en el metro de Tokio, liberando gas sarín en cinco puntos de ese laberíntico trazado. El autor japonés Murakami se convierte en un mero intermediario en este libro para hacernos llegar la voz de algunos de los protagonistas de aquél día, víctimas afectadas en la primera parte y adeptos o ex – adeptos de la secta en la segunda. El mismo cuenta al principio que no hay más elaboración en los testimonios que la necesaria para hace ...more
Mar 27, 2012 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Katie
Did you know that there is an article on Wikipedia entitled, "List of people claimed to be Jesus"? I suppose I shouldn't be excessively surprised; Wikipedia is the Amazon of information, containing tons and tons and tons of stuff while simultaneously engendering mistrust or negative feelings. Personally, I don't think Amazon is the devil--especially since I just ordered, received, and used the new OPI Glitter-Off Base Coat (yes! This stuff is the best!) when Ulta didn't have it--but they do have ...more
Jun 17, 2014 Inês rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 20 de março de 1995 eu tinha 11 anos e é estranho que não me lembre de ver na televisão imagens do atentado em Tóquio. O nome Aum Shinrikyo também não me dizia nada, por isso este livro foi para mim, em vários aspetos, uma revelação. Conhecer os contornos de um ataque com gás sarin no metropolitano mais movimentado do mundo e tentar perceber melhor a mentalidade japonesa foram argumentos suficientes para me entusiasmar.
Esta edição junta dois livros que foram publicados no Japão em anos diferen
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #1 Haruki Murakami - Underground 1 3 Jan 23, 2014 08:39PM  
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Haruki Murakami (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'. He can be located on Facebook at:

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by Am
More about Haruki Murakami...

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“The rain that fell on the city runs down the dark gutters and empties into the sea without even soaking the ground” 19 likes
“If you lose your ego, you lose the thread of that narrative you call your Self. Humans, however, can't live very long without some sense of a continuing story. Such stories go beyond the limited rational system (or the systematic rationality) with which you surround yourself; they are crucial keys to sharing time-experience with others.

Now a narrative is a story, not a logic, nor ethics, nor philosophy. It is a dream you keep having, whether you realize it or not. Just as surely as you breathe, you go on ceaselessly dreaming your story. And in these stories you wear two faces. You are simultaneously subject and object. You are a whole and you are a part. You are real and you are shadow. "Storyteller" and at the same time "character". It is through such multilayering of roles in our stories that we heal the loneliness of being an isolated individual in the world.

Yet without a proper ego nobody can create a personal narrative, any more than you can drive a car without an engine, or cast a shadow without a real physical object. But once you've consigned your ego to someone else, where on earth do you go from there?

At this point you receive a new narrative from the person to whom you have entrusted your ego. You've handed over the real thing, so what comes back is a shadow. And once your ego has merged with another ego, your narrative will necessarily take on the narrative created by that ego.

Just what kind of narrative?

It needn't be anything particularly fancy, nothing complicated or refined. You don't need to have literary ambitions. In fact, the sketchier and simpler the better. Junk, a leftover rehash will do. Anyway, most people are tired of complex, multilayered scenarios-they are a potential letdown. It's precisely because people can't find any fixed point within their own multilayered schemes that they're tossing aside their own self-identity.”
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