Photo/IllutrationHaruki Murakami, right, attends his first news conference in Japan in 37 years alongside Waseda University President Kaoru Kamata. (Mariko Nakamura)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Internationally acclaimed writer Haruki Murakami will donate his book drafts, documents and even his huge record collection to Waseda University in Tokyo, his alma mater, which plans to house the trove in a special facility.

Appearing at his first news conference in Japan in 37 years, the reclusive author said on Nov. 4 that he hoped the facility would serve as a forum for the international exchange of literature and culture.

"I personally have been helped by my translation work and developed through an exchange of languages," Murakami said at the Tokyo news conference. "I might have fallen into a state of asphyxiation if I had remained only within the realm of Japanese literature."

Waseda officials said the tentative name of the facility, to be constructed on campus, is "Murakami Library." They plan to turn it into a research center where scholars from Japan and abroad can delve into Murakami's materials.

Murakami, 69, said he began thinking about making the donation from about four or five years ago.

"Documents have piled up over the close to 40 years that I have written as a novelist," he said. "The floor of my home has become so warped that I can no longer keep all the documents there."

He said discussions had been held with Waseda officials since March, and that an agreement had been reached on the donation of the trove as well as about 20,000 record albums.

"I have no children so I also felt it would be problematic if the materials became scattered after I am gone," he said.

Murakami, who graduated from Waseda in 1975, will donate letters and manuscripts as well as reviews of his works. He will also donate his own collection of books along with the records.

However, because he still listens to some of those records, the handing over will be done gradually starting from the next fiscal year.

With Murakami's works having been translated into about 50 languages, many foreign scholars have become interested in Japanese literature through their initial encounter with his novels.

"In the future, I would also like to establish a scholarship as well as hold seminars and record concerts at the facility," Murakami said. "I want to be actively involved in that process."

The last time Murakami appeared at a news conference in Japan was in 1981 when he participated in one for the movie production of one of his earliest works "Hear the Wind Sing," which was directed by Kazuki Omori.

At his latest news conference, Murakami appeared relaxed and even told a joke at his own expense.

"There was an initial plan to call the facility the 'Murakami Memorial Hall,' but I turned it down because I am not dead yet," he said.

Murakami also revealed some of his secrets to his writing.

While he at first used Japanese manuscript paper, Murakami explained that he turned to notebooks for "Norwegian Wood" when he was writing it in Europe.

Since his 1988 novel "Dance, Dance, Dance," Murakami has done all his writing on computers.

"For some works, I have stored the various drafts on different USB devices as one way of intentionally having a record, but I don't really want to show those to others," he said.

Murakami also reflected on his student days at Waseda more than 40 years ago, admitting that he was not very diligent because he did not regularly attend lectures.

"I frequently went to the Theater Museum (on campus) and read old 'scenarios,' " Murakami said. "When I didn't have the money to watch movies at a theater, I imagined how I would make a movie. I think that experience helped me a bit when I became a writer.

"I believe there is a need for any university campus to have a place where students can stop for a detour."