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In the Miso Soup

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  18,123 ratings  ·  1,500 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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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  18,123 ratings  ·  1,500 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 01, 2013 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
May 28, 2015 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 c
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthias by: Sean Blake
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
Nov 16, 2009 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
Oct 23, 2010 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
Aug 13, 2015 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/tou

Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Steven Godin
Like a hot knife through butter this was a quick and easy read over a couple of nights that left me with a seriously uncomfortable and queasy feel, and what it lacked in length was certainly made up for by a foreboding atmosphere of neon noir dread. Set predominantly in the seedy backstreets of night time Tokyo it centers on twenty year old Kenji who works as a sex tour guide for tourists showing them the best strip joints, peep shows and love hotels on offer, for a few nights he is hired by an ...more
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2017-read
I love the jazzy, magical variations of Haruki Murakami's prose, but when punk rock king Ryū comes to town, I put on my leather jacket and come running to witness the mayhem - his portrayals of the underworld and the Japanese precariat are so visual and intense, and his ways to criticize the emptiness and alienation of society are so...well...BRUTAL. In this short novel, we meet Kenji, a young guy who works as a tour guide in Tokyo's red light district, offering his services to foreigners who ar ...more
Sometimes you read a book and it feels so uncannily like it was waiting for you, it's like you've read it before and loved it for years, like you're returning to an old favourite. I began reading In the Miso Soup the moment I received it in the post and extracted it from its envelope, and I just couldn't stop. With this book, I even experienced a genuine episode of that fabled cliche: almost missing my stop on the train because I was so completely absorbed in the story.

Kenji is a tour guide who
Mar 05, 2012 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
Edward Lorn
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This is an ugly book full of ugly things. Ryu Murakami had a story to tell and he wasn't going to flinch from the hard parts. Certain sections are unbelievable, but what he does get right he nails. I was affected by this on a deep level. I've long been desensitized to brutal violence, so it takes a special brand of horror to disturb me. Murakami did just that.

I cannot speak to how well written the novel is because I don't read Japanese, therefore I cannot give credit to Murakami as a writer. I
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This is probably the most mixed I've felt about any of the books we've read so far for the Year of Horror Book Club. I enjoyed the 1st and middle portions of the book (dear god the middle!!!), but the last portion left me feeling a bit empty. It's a strange, gory, little book, and I do think it's worth a quick read.

Full review here:
La Petite Américaine
Jul 14, 2008 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
Anthony Vacca
Sep 16, 2014 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
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Sleazy, overhyped and ineffectively dramatic. I felt like the violence and the long 'flashback' served no real purpose. This didn't lean either into philosophical and metaphorical area (many of the characterizations are lazy) nor into the graphic horror one (I felt like I could've blinked and missed the violent part; it reads exactly like what it is - a middle-aged man's weird sexual fantasy).

I do appreciate what Murakami tried to show with this novel and how many themes he incorporated, as well
Jan 31, 2009 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
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
In the Miso soup is a spit in the face on great American obsession of the east/Japan. There's this subtle angst all over the place which stays with you for a long time . This was creepy in all levels. That ear/hypnotism thing might be the creepiest, random-est thing I've ever read. If you're willing to explore Ryu Murakami/ Japanese transgressive fiction, this is where you start.
ETA: [Dieses Buch haben wir auch im Papierstau Podcast besprochen (Folge 87: Murakami vs. Murakami)] /ETA

My first Murakami (either one), and I'd say this was a good introduction to the work and world of Mr. Ryū M. This is a fast, addictive read. It sucked me in right from the start and never let got - the pacing was just perfect for this book.

We follow Kenji, a specialized tourist guide - he shows interested, curious or plain horny foreigners the variety of Tokyo's nightlife scene. His latest cu
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
Mar 07, 2013 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 Blake
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Emm C²
As much of a GIANT SPOILER as the blurb is, still it doesn't really prepare you for In the Miso Soup. Don't confuse this author with Haruki Murakami, or you may be in for a surprise. Their styles are very different, and Ryu Murakami's tends to be much more candid and violent.

Surreal and pitch-dark, this novella gets written off as being only about the gore, or even trashy, and it doesn't deserve that. Yes, the graphic scenes are intense (particularly the nauseating omiai pub scene near the end
Leo Robertson
Feb 04, 2012 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.

Greg Bates
Jan 14, 2013 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
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you cut out about 10 to 20% of this book, my review would probably be higher. In the Miso Soup is the disturbing, paranoid tale of Kenji, whose job is to show tourists looking for the kind of entertainment Tokyo's dirty back streets and sex trade provide. He's been hired by Frank to show him where to have a good time. Kenji is passive, unambitious and kind of annoying. Frank is a monster.

The book succeeds in creating a pervasive, inescapable sense of dread, as Kenji becomes more and more conv
Abbie | ab_reads
3.75 stars

This book is only for those of you with a strong stomach! Ryū Murakami’s fiction is definitely on the dark side, and I feel like I jumped in at the deep end with the first book I picked up by him. Usually I’m not a huge fan of really gory books, but this one also had a surprisingly philosophical element to it that I really liked!
Set in Tokyo, Kenji is a tour guide who shows tourists around the city’s red light district. But his latest client, an American named Frank, gives Kenji an o
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1990s, japanese, reviewed
Well, this is not what I expected it to be. I mean if you look at the plot description, it certainly gives you a pretty good clue of what to expect, and yet it absolutely fails to convey the type of novel you are getting into. Think philosophy novel, with a serial killer spin, which gives you both horrific violence and scenes of modernity examined in long conversation. In fact, if you examine the short 217 page count, I would say almost half of it is one really long conversation. It is a fascina ...more
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Which two books by Ryū Murakami would you recommend to someone who’s never read ANY of his books? 3 7 Jun 27, 2020 10:09AM  
The ending... 2 37 Nov 25, 2019 09:07AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please add this book 8 23 Oct 12, 2019 07:33AM  
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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

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