Review: Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love by Haruki Murakami

Murakami T: The T-Shirts I Love

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The international literary icon opens his eclectic closet: Here are photographs of Murakami’s extensive and personal T-shirt collection, accompanied by essays that reveal a side of the writer rarely seen by the public.

Considered the world’s most popular cult novelist (The Guardian), Haruki Murakami has written books that have galvanized millions around the world. Many of his fans know about his 10,000-vinyl-record collection, and his obsession with running, but few have heard about a more intimate, and perhaps more unique, passion: his T-shirt-collecting habit.

In Murakami T, the famously reclusive novelist shows us his T-shirts–including gems from the Springsteen on Broadway show in NYC, to the Beach Boys concert in Honolulu, to the shirt that inspired the beloved short story Tony Takitani. Accompanied by short, frank essays that have been translated into English for the first time, these photographs reveal much about Murakami’s multifaceted and wonderfully eccentric persona.

Haruki Murakami unpacks his T-shirt collection, Life & Culture - THE  BUSINESS TIMES


All of the impressions I get from Haruki Murakami and his writings is that he lives a quiet but consistent life. He writes and runs and collects vinyl, and he does the same things almost every day. One of the other things that he enjoys is finding t-shirts. Over the years he has amassed a huge collection, some of them promotional t-shirts publishers have sent him, some of them are from marathons he has run, but many of them are from second hand stores because he likes to look at t-shirts and buy them. When he travels, he says that he does not really pack many clothes because he likes to pick up new t-shirts during his travels, thus the reason why he has boxes of t-shirts packed away. 

He was asked to write small essays about his collection a few years ago, to be published in a Japanese men’s magazine called Popeye, he went through his collection and realized there are themes, there are shirts he will not wear, and there are shirts that mean more than others. These essays are translated and collected with the photographs of many of his t-shirts. 

This seems like it could be the weirdest of Murakami books or even one of the most boring. The truth is that it is exactly the calm, quiet, silly book that many of us need right now. With the stress of the holidays, families, jobs, and the world in general, reading an easy book about t-shirts feels a deep breath of air. I enjoyed this because it just makes me feel good to look through his t-shirt collection and what the shirts mean to him. I also find it funny because he is very honest about some of the shirts, like how he would never wear his collection of whiskey shirts because he does not want to be perceived as a drunk, and how he likes car shirts, but realistically what is the point of a car t-shirt? These essays are easy to read but most importantly they make me feel kind of like the world does not have to be as complicated as I make it. 

Some might think that this is for a Murakami fan more than a new reader, and I will agree with that wholeheartedly. There are many better books in his oeuvre, even other memoirs he has written that are better, but this is definitely a look into the world where Haruki Murakami lives. 

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