Kyoto Through Novels: An Interview with Tomihiko Morimi
Hello everyone, have you ever heard of the writer Tomihiko Morimi? He is one of many famous writers with connections to Kyoto, and he also published many novels related to Kyoto. But international students may not be very familiar with these Japanese novels.
For this article , international students studying in Kyoto had the opportunity to interview Mr. Morimi . One day in July, in the middle of summer, they took a walk with Mr. Morimi from Shimogamo to Kyoto University, same locations where the novel is set. In this article, Mr. Lee Hung-en, an international student who participated in the interview, introduces Mr. Morimi's work.
Mr. Morimi and Kyoto
Tomihiko Morimi is a Japanese writer who writes fantasy novels, and his works are very popular, especially among university students. In my opinion, the reason for this is that there are many stories in which the main characters are university students.
The first time I encountered Mr. Morimi’s novels was when I was studying Japanese at a Japanese language school in Tokyo. I became a fan of Mr. Morimi after reading a book recommended to me by a friend. One of the reasons why I decided to continue my studies in Kyoto after studying in Tokyo was the presence of Mr. Morimi’s novel.
Mr. Morimi spent his school days in Kyoto. Because of this, many of his books are set in Kyoto and they revolve around university life. His stories are made up fantasies, but they can feel very familiar to the readers because they are interwoven with Mr. Morimi’s actual experiences in university.
I am currently attending university in Kyoto, and there are moments when I come across places and street corners that appear in Mr. Morimi’s novels, which makes me excited. Of course, I have also visited the actual settings of his novels. If you are interested in Kyoto, I highly recommend you read his novels. And when you come to visit Kyoto one day, I would like you to witness the views with your own eyes. Of course, it’s also not too late for those who are already studying in Kyoto to read his novels. Let’s enjoy his novels and student life in Kyoto together!
My favorite Morimi novels
There are many representative works of Mr. Morimi, but I will introduce my two personal favorites. The first book is called , and the other one is The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. What these two works have in common is that they both tell the story of a university student in Kyoto, and they both focus on student life.
The main character of The Tatami Galaxy is a male student in his third year at a university in Kyoto. We all have pondered on questions such as, “What if I’d made a different choice at that time in my life…?,” right? What would happen to our future by changing our past? In this work, such a story unfolds in four parallel worlds.
The content of The Tatami Galaxy is unrealistically messy, and I feel that it is far from my own experiences. However, I think it is a novel that makes you realize that it is worth enjoying student life to the fullest, but it’s also important to push hard, even as you are influenced by those around you.
The Night is Short, Walk on Girl is a story about a black-haired young girl attending university in Kyoto and about an upperclassman who falls in love with her. In short, the story revolves around university life and love, which are inseparable themes for university students. Set in places such as Pontocho and Shimogamo Shrine, the changing relationship between the two is written from Mr. Morimi’s unique worldview It’s fantasy, but is it somehow more possible because it’s set in Kyoto, where folkloric events like the parades of traditional spirits and demons, too, seem more possible?
For me, The Night is Short, Walk on Girl feels like a true university student romance, and the sadness of love depicted in it resembled the experiences that I had up until now. I would personally recommend this novel to those who have never read Mr. Morimi’s work before.
Many of Mr. Morimi’s works have received movie and anime adaptations. Probably many people have seen animes such as The Eccentric Family and Penguin Highway without knowing that they were originally written by Mr. Morimi. I would highly recommend watching these anime to those who are not so keen on reading but would like to experience Mr. Morimi’s work!