The Waseda International House of Literature (The Haruki Murakami Library)Waseda University

About US

Greetings from the Director of the Waseda International House of Literature

Director TOEDA Hirokazu (Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences )

The Waseda International House of Literature (WIHL) is scheduled to open on October 1, 2021. The founding body, officially established by the university in May 2019, set the official name of the facility. However, the actual starting point of the entire endeavor was in 2018, when Haruki Murakami decided to generously entrust and donate his valuable materials to Waseda, his alma mater. That is why the facility is commonly referred to as the Haruki Murakami Library. Now, after three years of preparation, we are confidently approaching the opening.

In July 2019, shortly after the establishment of the founding body of WIHL, we began the process of receiving and organizing materials we received from Haruki Murakami. In October 2019, the international symposium Haruki Murakami and International Literature was held at the Masaru Ibuka Auditorium in the Waseda University International Conference Center. The symposium was well-attended and received considerable positive press in various newspapers. I believe that as the kick-off event for WIHL, the symposium had a far-reaching impact.

We set to work imagining steady progress toward the opening of WIHL in 2020, but it turned out to be the year when the spread of the novel coronavirus deeply affected the entire world. We continued the work of receiving entrusted and donated materials, but as the preparations were unfolding, we found ourselves abandoning the plan for the 2020 international symposium, where we had been intending to present the vision of the facility. Most importantly, we decided to postpone the opening, scheduled for April 2021, until the fall of the same year, as we naturally gave top priority to the health and safety of the visitors and the people involved in the operation of the facility.

We decided to renovate Building 4 on the Waseda Campus to create the home for WIHL. The design of the new incarnation of the building was conceived and executed by Kengo Kuma, a world-renowned architect and university professor at Waseda University. The construction work began in 2020 and was completed in March 2021, whereupon we moved on to the reception of materials and the installation of the facilities and decorative elements around and within the building. As the work progressed, the architectural concepts and creation of WIHL was reported warmly and enthusiastically across many media outlets.

On April 1st, the first day of the 2021 academic year, the university officially set WIHL’s opening date, October 1, and Haruki Murakami was presented the Waseda University Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts. On that day, he gave a speech at the 2021 undergraduate and graduate school entrance ceremony of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Culture, Media and Society, held in the Waseda University Arena. His encouraging and visionary speech touched the hearts of the new students and received wide media coverage. He explained the message behind WIHL’s motto, “Explore Your Story, Speak Your Heart” —a message embodying the aim of the facility.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude for the impressive support we received for the establishment of the facility. We are encouraged by everyone’s high expectations of activities here. From the beginning of the fundraising drive, which began in October 2019, we have received donations from many people. We are also grateful for the warm support for the Haruki Murakami Library Opening Commemorative Student Support Fundraising Campaign, launched to support the activities of students returning to campus from remote study to take on practical challenges, including the volunteer-based operation of the cafe attached to the building.

In November 2019, Tadashi Yanai, Chairman, President and CEO of FAST RETAILING, donated the full cost of the renovation of Building 4, totaling 1.2 billion yen. The Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities is closely related to the operation of the facility. Tadashi Yanai has a deep understanding of Waseda University’s Japanese culture research, and our related work with the University of California, which has been supported by his donations since 2014.

Haruki Murakami said at the 2018 press conference covering the establishment of WIHL, “I hope this library will become a place of open international exchange for literature and culture.” As the name implies, we would like to create an international house of literature at Waseda University, with the involvement of all, taking up the work of realizing Haruki Murakami’s hopes for the facility. We are now immersed in preparations for the opening of WIHL, facilitating the display of books, planning special exhibitions, and arranging various symposia. Once again, we humbly thank everyone involved for their wonderful support.

Never forgetting the perils of the spread of COVID-19, we would like to welcome you to the Waseda International House of Literature this fall.

Director TOEDA Hirokazu (Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences )

Associate Director SAKAKIBARA Richi (Professor, School of International Liberal Studies )

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