A similar scene played out at drinking establishments across Japan when the latest Nobel Prize winner was announced on Oct. 13.

At the Rakuyo folk music bar in Tokyo’s Shinbashi district, bewildered customers nearly spilled their drinks asking anyone within earshot: “What? He won the prize for literature?”

American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was named recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, an award many Japanese thought would finally go to novelist Haruki Murakami.

And while Murakami has a huge army of die-hard fans in this country, Dylan also has a strong following, as evident by the whoops of joy, celebrations and Dylan-related sales events at bookshops and music stores following his unexpected victory.

Dylan fans have gathered at Polka Dots, dubbed the Bob Dylan bar, in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district on the day of the literature prize announcement for the past four or five years on the off-chance the “the Bard” would be named.

“I was caught completely off-guard for the possibility that Dylan would win the Nobel Prize this year,” said Tokyo Bob, manager of the bar. “Dylan’s lyrics, voice and rhythm form a trinity. I hope his Nobel Prize win will be a trigger that spreads the greatness of his music.”

Takayuki Mizushima, a 33-year-old regular at the bar, rushed to Polka Dots from his home in Niiza, Saitama Prefecture, after hearing the announcement.

“I’ve always been encouraged by Dylan, who has continued changing even after he turned 70 years old,” Mizushima said in the bar, where the walls are filled with Dylan record covers and pictures. “I hope Dylan’s Nobel Prize award will stir interest in his music among younger generations.”

Kinokuniya Bookstore set up special display corners at its flagship Shinjuku store and Shibuya outlet in Tokyo for a book titled “The Lyrics,” which features the words to all of Dylan’s songs.

The book usually sits in a warehouse because of its price tag: 35,000 yen ($337).

“If possible, we would like to run a book fair displaying relevant books on Dylan to coincide with his Nobel Prize win,” a Kinokuniya official said. “However, quite a lot of those books are no longer available because they went out of print.”

The morning after the prize was announced, fans flocked to music stores in Tokyo to pick up Dylan CDs. Immediately after Tower Records’ Shibuya store opened on Oct. 14, customers crowded the “Bob Dylan Corner” that was set up the previous night.

Many Japanese musicians said Dylan has been a huge influence and source of inspiration.

“I wonder what I would have become if Bob Dylan didn’t exist at a certain period of my life,” singer-songwriter Takuro Yoshida said. “I feel that I could become who I am now only because of Dylan’s presence.”

Ryoko Moriyama, a Japanese folk and jazz singer, described Dylan as a “significant figure both as a musician and thinker who has the power to alter the state of consciousness of the times.”

“Everyone in our generation must have felt blown by the wind generated by him,” Moriyama said.

Shigeru Izumiya, a Japanese singer-songwriter, was also delighted to learn that Dylan had won but said the announcement brought about a sense of “awkwardness.”

“I feel something strange,” he said, smiling. “Let’s celebrate and enjoy the award, including this feeling of awkwardness.”