1Q84 1Q84 question


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Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives?
Anna Anna Mar 11, 2013 07:22AM
Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood. I'm still waiting to see if there is a purpose behind Tengo's pedophilic lust for Fuka-Eri, but I have a feeling it'll simply be gratuitous. His plots just always seem to rely on a male's intense lust for some overly attractive female. Nothing original or unique about that. #tiredtrope :/



Moot (last edited Aug 01, 2014 10:08PM ) Aug 01, 2014 10:04PM   16 votes
Anna / I'm a male, an East-asian (a South Korean, more specifically) with relatively good understanding of Japanse Culture and History, and have read most of major novels by Haruki Murakami (Some in original Japanese).

And, I'm one of those who agree with you, thinking that Haruki's works are saturated with male-centric, childish sexual fantacies and lusts, which I often find problematic (sometiems even unethical).

Furthermore, I can assure you that those are not really rare in Japan and Korea who shares your view on Haruki's novels, including both general reads like you and me, and professional literary critics. In other words, haruki novels' tendency of showing hostitlity towards female general, and male-centuric sexual fantacies with objectification of famale character is one of frequently occuring criticism charged at his works here, Japan and Korea.


Jazmine (last edited Oct 26, 2013 02:09PM ) Oct 26, 2013 01:54PM   8 votes
It's just you, and apparently a handful of other prudes.

Seriously, did we read the same book? The protagonist is a woman that kills men who have abused women. The only questionable sex acts were committed by a cult leader (perhaps one of the more realistic aspects of the book?). You must have a very low tolerance for sex and/or sexual fantasy in fiction, and that would be your problem, not a problem with the writer.


My take on the sex scenes was completely different. The sex scenes, to me, we're not about sex, so I didn't really think of them as being good or bad as sex scenes. I don't think he wrote them with pornography in mind. I think he wrote them to advance certain aspects of the plot and to make us uncomfortable and then to question why we're uncomfortable. In particular, the scenes describing the leader's paralysis when he was engaging in sex with the minors from his Church. He had no control over this, which introduces the question, should he be blamed? Should Aomame kill him for her original reasons at all? We're disgusted by how his acts are originally characterized. How does this new information change things.

Tengo is attracted to Fuka Eri, but when the sex scene occurs, he's also paralyzed. But this sex scene is more about the transmission of his semen to Aomame through Fuka Eri through some sort of worm hole. And is Fuka Eri even human? I think we're supposed to question that. So, what is the meaning of this sexual act? It's really hard to say. It certainly isn't intended to turn us on.


David (last edited Jun 09, 2017 10:19AM ) Jun 09, 2017 10:17AM   1 vote
For what it's worth, in this era where literary novels are supposedly dying, or dead -- or something -- Murakami's work seems to me to be a breath of fresh air. It is always quintessentially psychological, deals with the struggle we all have with anomie, and is filled with weirdness and mystery in ways that no other storytelling medium is capable of (maybe Twin Peaks?). I loved 1Q84 and feel it's one of the finest books I've read in years.

As far as the sex stuff is concerned (here in the post 50 Shades era) I found the writing provocative, sensual, and always interesting. Murakami's sex is certainly charged, but it's also generally about a lot more than sex. I wonder if people's problems stem from being so enmeshed in the psychology of things and the open-ended mysteries he presents. Certainly the reader's mind is opened up and in a dream state where so much is possible.

Maybe it's just the male gaze and that usually well described erect penis Haruki manages. Not sure what folks expect. It's the 21st century and there's porn about two clicks from here right now. 1Q84 may be wild, but it's not pornographic. And, honestly, if that sex is boring or distasteful, what do you want?


I very much enjoyed 1Q84 with its complex and intertwined story lines and creation of the two-moon world. There was more sex than I needed to read, but it did not detract from the story. The only other Murakami book I've read is Kafka on the Shore. I enjoyed it but no where near as much as 1Q84. I can see see the little people popping out of that dead goat and building the air crystallis.


What's intriguing about 1Q84 is that for what I think is the first time, Murakami uses a woman (Aomame) as his primary focus and POV, though I suppose you could argue that Tengo gets equal billing with her. But of the two, this female character (the assassin) is a wonderfully complex creation, far more so than the guy who shares the spotlight with her. I do think that if the novel had been published in the US as it was in Japan - in three sequentially released volumes instead of an 800-page doorstop - it would gained impact and that was after all how HM conceived of the work.


deleted member Mar 30, 2013 09:11AM   1 vote
IQ84 has a female protagonist, try that?

Or you could read some Kathy Acker...oh wait, her characters do the same thing...


Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."
It's not just you. This is my 4th Murakami novel. I'm about half way through. I like his books quite a bit, but his depiction of women and his breast obsession is really grating.


@op, i think the japanese are a bit more skeptical of H.M. than his adoring fan club, even though they too buy millions of his books. quite a few have told me, "i don't actually like him, but he's irresistible."

@thew, the national age of consent in Japan is 13, but each prefecture has a higher number, usually around 16.


Yes! I’m about 200 pages into IQ84, and it’s not even the sex scene that bothers me. The women are just described so badly. There are so many descriptions of their breasts and otherwise sexual descriptions of them. It happens so frequently that it’s just distracting at this point, and I am only a fraction of the way through the book. I’m not offended by it; it’s just distracting and annoying. I know she has breasts! Can he please stop describing them over and over again?! While it seems like he is good at coming up with interesting female characters, it just seems like he’s not very good at describing them.


I about 60 pages of 1Q84 I didn't learn anything interesting and met the worst description of love-making I have ever read, so I had to quit reading.


Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...." I disagree with the "lust" aspect of your comment. He never explicitly states that he lusts for her and it is also never explicitly shown that he lusts for her.


I know you are being hounded for this but you should understand something else. Murakami writes his fiction in a way that satisfies some of his own curiosities, in an interview he once said, "Think of my main characters as twins separated at birth, similar, but entirely different" or something like that.

He is exploring his own thoughts and ideas in his fiction, which is why Toru from Norwegian Wood and Toru from The Wind Up Bird Chronicle are similar in some ways. It is all about what goes on in his mind.

If you don't like the sexual nature of his novels, quit reading them.


Abhipsa (last edited Apr 23, 2017 08:19AM ) Apr 23, 2017 08:17AM   0 votes
Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."

The point that Murakami is trying to establish is that Tengo's attraction to Fuka-Eri is bringing him a realisation that there was something missing inside of him. Tengo finds Fuka-eri aesthetically pretty, this isn't pedophilloic as he has no proper desire as he did for Aomame. Even during the sex scene he couldn't climax until he closed his eyes and thought about Aomame, not Fuka-eri. He is as attracted to Fuka-eri as you would be to an aesthetically pleasing work of art. Furthermore Tengo did not want to have sex with Fuka-eri, this is not a creepy older guy with a fetish for teenage girls but someone who's being dragged through a series of strange events. At least that was my interpretation.


Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."

I got so tired of it that I couldn't finish the book!


MR (last edited Dec 11, 2017 02:15PM ) Dec 11, 2017 02:13PM   0 votes
Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."

I think you are over-doing the male centrist thing. I've read his entire works, I'm 50+ male, have kids who are approaching 30 and I've been married to a Japanese lady for nearly 30 years. I think Murakami has, to a degree, a kind of obsession with sexual relationships but I wouldn't go so far to say it's all male fantasy. He deals with homosexuality a fair bit between men and men and women and women and I wouldn't say Tengo's interest in Fuka-Eri is in anyway perverse, sexist or predatory. Nor would I be inclined to suggest that his protagonists reflect his own views on sexuality. Novelists have licence to portray their characters' sexual predilections anyway they like. Whatever your take on Murakami, he will remain a key literary figure for a good time to come.


If the psychology of an author or their characters disturbs you, you might be getting an opportunity to learn something about yourself. Stopping at reactive reactions to narratives at "this is bad/evil/gross" and running away is a good sign that a nerve has been struck, and you could do some exploration with yourself. Some of Murakami's sex scenes are weird, but I respect that sexuality is a complicated concept and experience for many people across cultures and even within cultures. As someone said, 13 is the legal age in Japan and as weird and wrong I think that is, I try to maintain a position of cultural relativism to learn as much as I can from other ways of being and knowing. I would be interested to read some women and queer Japanese writers to see what kinds of weird fantasies come out of those identities.


Yes! I'm in the middle of it now, and came on here specifically to find out if others had the same reaction to the scenes as I did. I'm all for sex scenes in novels, especially when they're well-written and central to the narrative. But several of the scenes in 1Q84 have jarred me out of my reading flow because they felt so incongruous, unnecessary, and simply bizzare.


1) in japan the legal age of consent is 13, so not only is this not paedophilia, it is legal and maybe even normal in japanese society

2) sexuality is a very real thing, and exploring it is not unusual in literature. in fact it is a major theme in most literature across the board

3) murakami is writing from the point of view of a japanese man. so yes, his narratives are "male-centric"


short answer to channel question: no

He is a male and writes what he knows.
I do not remember anything that counts as pedophilia. Yes he has younger women and older men but not in anything sexual.
The actual pairing may have an age difference but not beyond reasonable.

Bottom line is that many are not about sex and several are more about love. Then again I have more than a few titles to read, and so far will read.


Thanks for these comments. I just finished Wind Up Bird Chronicle a few weeks ago and I thought it was a really different and fun read, but I wasn't sure what to think about all the strange sexual scenes. I want to read more of his books, now I know a little more about what to expect in them. I like to think they serve a certain purpose for each narrative. I'll have to think about it as I continue. Also, I have a question. Which book do you think I should read next? Should I go ahead and try to conquer IQ or go back to an earlier work first? thanks


His stores are dream-like. Almost everything in them is fundamentally based on dreams. Dreams (and his stories) addressed aspects of the minds that are frequently repressed, such as sexual attraction, especially "inappropriate" sexual attractions.


The premise seems valid. I'm not sure it's terribly surprising that his stories are male-focused, since most authors tend to be autobiographical in many respects. About the only book I've ever read where a man wrote well about women or a woman wrote well about men was Gilead by Marilynne Robinson which brilliant captured the male voice, in my opinion, despite being written by a female. It's sort of like pointing out that football and hockey players tend to suffer more injuries than writers and dentists. It's probably true but I don't think I'll stop watching football or hockey anytime soon.


Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."

It's a reflection of real life. Why do you think its a trope? Pretty common to the male experience.


"Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives?" - count me in. God, I wanted to stop reading it so badly. I finished it hoping there would be more to it. He could have written it in 500 pages or less.


Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."

It's just you (and I say this as a woman).


Agree. At about 1/3 way through I decided the sex was too much and stopped reading, though the rest of the story was great and part of my wishes I had continued reading.


I don't see how the question is relevant to 1Q84, given the central characters. I did not find the sex scenes troubling in Kafka on the Shore either. I can only speculate on how little they will trouble for other Murakami books, which I very much intend to read.

I know it is a matter of some personal taste, but I would prefer to discuss particular books in a discussion thread. They are difficult enough to process without going past a given work and attacking the author directly on a general basis.


Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."

YES. That was literally all I could think while reading this book. I love most of his works, but this one just... ugh. I thought it was too ambitious and that he lost his way. I've read them all, and this was the first one I almost didn't finish.


A quarter way through the book and there isn't enough story to support the weight of the tedious descriptions of sexual encounters. A 5:1 ratio would be tolerable but this is about 3:1, making the sex scenes so frequent that they're tiresome. This many lengthy passages about food preparation or taxidermy would be equally boring but no one would argue that quiche or glass eyes make the work edgy.


Maybe some of Murakami's stories are a totally pathetic historical example of the phallocentric, maybe his stories are simply based out of the library he's been provided, maybe there's no difference, maybe that's the point.


Definitely not just you... It have been annoying me so much too... I actually found your comment because I googled something like "haruki murakami hipersexualize young girls". Reading the other comments I thought: I really couldn't care less if it's legal in Japan, so many atrocities are still legal in so many countries..! When you read one book you think: ok, this is very inappropriate but, it's just one story. But then you see it happening in almost all of his books.. It's very disturbing.. It's like a fixation, it's just not normal, or right. And I feel so bad writting this because I love his books so much (except for these gross parts of course). Sorry I just had to vent.. (also sorry about my English, I'm not a native speaker).


Rachel (last edited Jul 08, 2017 06:38PM ) Jul 08, 2017 06:36PM   0 votes
It's so tiring as a woman to read these books. I like his magical worlds and descriptions (to an extent anyway), but literally EVERY SINGLE ONE of his female characters is sexualized in some way, and some of them ARE very young girls. I don't care what "the male experience," is, it's not okay for an older man to be viewing young girls in a sexual way. And what about the kind of incestuous sex in Kafka? Not to mention most of the women in The Wind Up Bird Chronicle were naked in 3/4 of all the scenes. And I guess he has some kink for the woman initiating it? And the rape of Creta Kano as a major plot device for her character?
I'm so tired of Murakami. His imagination is great, but the ridiculous sexualization of all his female characters makes his books dry and not worth reading in my opinion. I'm so sick of old, perverted men thinking that they know women.


Not just you. I didn't know the author was a man (the name sounded feminine, my bad) and I was taken aback with the description of the female bodies. It very much seemed like a male narrative and exclusively a male point of view (ugh the obsession with breasts- seriously that's NOT the central point of a woman's existence), and I had to look the author up at some point and it all made sense.


deleted member Mar 30, 2013 09:08AM   0 votes
Actually, no. But I do get sick of undergrads overusing adjectives and hating on Murakami's genius.


John (last edited Dec 26, 2014 01:15AM ) Dec 26, 2014 01:14AM   0 votes
Thank-you, Dsa, for your helpful comments. A lot of the comments on Murakami's writing by obviously North American women totally missed the mark. Please, God, don't let corrupt and hypocritical American culture spread further in the world than it already has! Yes, Murakami's sex scenes are usually gratuitous, and yes, his books are amoral. Both of those traits are typically Japanese–i.e. typical of both Japanese males and females. All of you need to live in Japan for 45 years and speak and read Japanese perfectly before you comment. Your comments are based largely on translations, which are often better than the original–particularly in the case of Gabriel's brilliant Kafka, where he does things in English that are impossible in Japanese. Bravo Gabriel!

U 25x33
plant John, of course we have the right to comment upon Murakami's work, regardless of where we have lived for the past 45 years. To imply that we don't is ...more
Jan 21, 2018 03:21PM

It is my only complaint about Murakami's books and his writing in general. He is terrible at writing sex scenes, and the pedophilic overtones are very creepy. Also he has these "magic blow-job" scenes in several books where a male character finds enlightenment in a dream or a well or something with the "magic blow job" by a female character. I don't know whether this is just his tic or whether this is supposed to reflect on male treatment of women in Japanese culture? It may be both.


Tanya (last edited Nov 15, 2015 08:55AM ) Nov 15, 2015 08:54AM   0 votes
Anna wrote: "does anyone else tire of..."

Yes, Anna.

I got just over halfway through the book, just past the point where a girl who hasn't begun menstruating "rapes" a paralyzed man twice her age, and couldn't read another word.

1Q84 was my first Murakami book and I sensed an obsessive hypersexual fixation from the very first chapter right through until that scene. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I don't wish to give Murakami a second try.


T.D. (last edited Mar 24, 2013 11:14PM ) Mar 24, 2013 09:37PM   0 votes
Just to clarify: "lusting" after a teenager (Fuka-Eri) is NOT paedophilia. In Murakami's books, the ingenues to whom you are referring are not young children, but teenagers of 16+ years. In modern society, we have set an ethical and legal standard for appropriate age of consent, which I fully support, especially when it comes to adult-minor relationships. The difference between a person attracted to a teenager, who has all the same secondary sexual characteristics as any adult, and a pre-pubescent child (in whom the paedophile is exclusively interested) is profound. There is no comparison here. Plenty of perfectly healthy men look at teenage girls and are attracted to them, although they do not necessarily act on that attraction. Having worked for years in this field, I get annoyed by the public labelling any man who gets interested in a 16 or 17 year old as a paedophile, which they most certainly are not; that is not to say that it is a good idea to act on urges such as these. Also, let's remember that it used to be quite normal and socially acceptable for young women of good family to marry much older men who offered them wealth and stability.


I agree with you. I'm 50 pages into the Wind Up Bird Chronicle and I'm not going to read any farther. I like that he comments on the absurdity of modernity by exploring the mundane through classic philosophical themes, but it's clear this book will be male-centric and misogynist as demonstrated by its light hearted way of dealing with a rape of a character in the first 50 pages.


The same rule applies to Kafka on the Shore, btw, where the protagonist is a 15-year-old boy. That relationship is not paedopilia, either, though many readers might find it socially distasteful and certainly it is illegal in many countries (not sure about Japan).


Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."

Anna wrote: "Is it just me or does anyone else tire of Haruki Murakami's hypersexualized, male-centrist narratives? Other than that, I adore his writing. I'm currently reading 1Q84 and have read Norwegian Wood...."
If being attracted to 17 year old girls with beautiful breasts is 'pedophillic', all the men(and some women) should be put behind bars. Pick up the dictionary sometimes while reading, it would certainly be much lighter than the tome that is 1Q84.


His novels have always toed the line on pedaphilia themes but recently he has crossed those lines with Kafka on the shore and 1Q84. Old man in strange relationship with teen is Murakami trope. Cats and pasta are other tired tropes that he uses.

I can't remember the trainers name but I completely thought that she had been drugged in the orgy scene. but it was never really brought up. A lot of people hate the way that he writes women. I think he must not know too many.

U 25x33
MR A Er, Budd. It's actually spelt like this - paedophilia or pedophilia. I wouldn't say this forms a theme in any of his books, and I've read his entire p ...more
Dec 11, 2017 02:33PM

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